The Indian Air Force (IAF) has retired one of the three remaining squadrons of older MiG-21 fighters. The aircraft will gradually be replaced with an indigenous LCA (LCA) Mk-1A aircrafts Officials who are who are aware of the situation told reporters on Tuesday.
The most recent MiG-21 Bisons that are scheduled to be retired are part of the No. 4 Squadron, which is based in Uttarlai within Rajasthan. It was disbanded within a year of when the IAF eliminated the Bisons of Srinagar’s No. 51 Squadron. The No. 4 Squadron has been operating the MiG-21 since 1966, and is currently being upgraded using an upgraded Sukhoi-30 MKI plane, a spokesperson for the official announced on Tuesday.
The Wing Chief (now the Group Captain) Abhinandan Varthaman, who was awarded the Vir Chakra for taking down an Pakistani F-16 in an encounter over the Line of Control on February 27 the 27th of February, 2019. He was a member of the No. 51 squadron at the time. The dogfight occurred one day after the IAF attacked a terror base in Pakistan’s Balakot as a reaction on the Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir where forty Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed.
Two squadrons, located on Bikaner in Bikaner and Suratgarh in Rajasthan will be eliminated in 2025. Each squadron will have 16-18 fighter planes.
“Marking the conclusion of an time that began in the year 2000, this MiG-21 Bison aircraft were seen for the last time over the sky of Uttarlai in the Barmer district in Rajasthan. It was the MiG-21 Bison flew alongside the Su-30 MKI to commemorate the anniversary,” the spokesperson of the Gandhinagar-based South Western Air Command wrote on X on Monday. The Bison is the most advanced IAF MiG-21 variant.
Many MiG-21s have been involved in crashes in recent times The crashes have turned the spotlight back on India’s longest-serving fighter jet as well as its safety record. the IAF’s plans to replace older aircraft with modern ones in the near future.
The air force received their first uni-engine MiG-21 in 1963. Later, it was later able to add 874 of the Soviet-designed supersonic aircraft to increase their combat capability. Nearly 400 MiG-21s were involved in crashes that have resulted in the deaths of more than 200 pilots over the past sixty years.
More MiG-21s have been involved in crashes more than other fighter aircrafts due to them being the largest of fighters within the inventory of the IAF for a long period of time as well as the military was forced to maintain its MiG-21 fleet in service more than what it might like due to delays when it came to the introduction into service of brand new airplanes.
The LCA Mk-1As which will replace MiG-21s will be commissioned by the IAF from next year.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is able to construct 16 LCA Mk-1As per year in Bengaluru and a brand new production line being built in Nashik will allow the company to grow production to 24 jets.
One Mk-1A is scheduled to be handed over to the IAF by the end of February in 2024 and the final of the 83 to be ordered by 2027-28.
In the early months of the month of October IAF head Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari announced plans to purchase additional LCA Mk-1As.
Source: Hindustan Times