The Indian Air Force will retire its last four Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21FL Fishbed fighter aircraft on 11 December 2013, the Times of India reported.
Pilots of the Operational Conversion Unit will do a fly-past of Kalaikunda Air Station in West Bengal, joined by formations of MiG-27MLs and Sukhoi Su-30MKIs. India hails the aircraft as one of its corner stones during the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971. Amongst the confirmed IAF MiG-21 kills of Pakistan Air Force aircraft during the 1971 war are four Lockheed F-104A Starfighters, two Shenyang F-6s, one North American/Canadair F-86 Sabre and a Pakistan Navy Breguet Br.1150 Atlantique.
The fighter known for its loud bang when the afterburner is engaged has been the most extensively used combat platform in the history of the Indian Air Force. Despite the goodbye to the FL-type, about 125 MiG-21s of the Bison standard remain. The last couple of years they got the somewhat unflattering nickname Flying Coffin. Especially after upgrades and maintenance executing by the indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) the aircraft was relatively a lot involved in incidents and accidents, sometimes with the loss of life of the crew.
Despite that fact Indian Air Force pilots have to wait until 2019 when the last MiG-21 Bisons are planned to be phased out. HAL’s locally developed Tejas multi-role fighter will replace the MiG-21. The Indian Air Force has plans to buy up to 200 single-seat and 20 double-seat Tejas, that is built largely around a delta wing.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger