Sirsa (Har): A MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force on Friday crashed in a field near here shortly after takeoff, but the pilot ejected safely.

The plane was on a routine training sortie when it crashed at Mania village, about 40 km from here, police and air force officials said.

"The aircraft had taken off from the Sirsa air base for a routine training sortie and crashed a little while after getting airborne," an IAF spokesperson said in Delhi.

He said that the air force has ordered a court of inquiry to ascertain the reasons leading to the mishap.

The accident left a large crater in the field. Senior army, police and district officials have reached the crash site.

This is the seventh mishap involving IAF's fighter aircraft this year and the sixth involving a MiG-21 series plane.

In view of the increasing number of accidents involving the MiG-21 aircraft type, the IAF has decided to phase them out by 2017. The force is also planning to allow only experienced pilots to fly such planes from next year.

Of the total 976 MiG-21s inducted in the service since 1960s, over half of them have been lost in air crashes.