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.
Indian Air Chief Marshal chief Browne is openly in a brawl with the Indian minister of Defence and HAL aircraft company over the basic trainers for the Indian Air Force. Browne demands HAL to build 106 Swiss designed PC-7s under license and drop the indigenous Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40).
According to the Business Standard much is about the costs of the new HTT-40 compared to the proven Pilatus PC-7 Mark II. The Indian Air Force is already procuring 75 of these Swiss primary training aircraft, while the HTT-40 is supposed to have its maiden flight in 2015 at the earliest.
With both the Indian Defence minister and the HAL leadership refusing to give in to the air boss’s demands, Air Chief Marshal Browne doesn’t want to give up either quoted by the Business Standard that it will be easier for the air force to maintain and operate one proven basic trainer aircraft.
Of the 75 ordered PC-7s 18 have already been delivered and flying in IAF colours. Final delivery is planned for mid-2015. By the end of August, the still small IAF PC-7 fleet has already logged 3000 flight hours with almost 5600 landings.
Despite the challenges of adverse weather conditions due to the onslaught of monsoons, the first solo flights were successfully completed within the initial three weeks of flight training. The PC-7s fly from the airstrip of the Air Force Academy at Dundigal. The first Indian Air Force Basic Training course using the Pilatus PC-7 MkII aircraft, commenced on the 1st of July 2013, is well underway with more than 80 students.
The Indian Navy received its first of 17 ordered BAE Systems Hawk Mk 132 on September 23, 2013. Therby India has become the third naval operator of the advanced training aircraft, after the Fleet Air Arm of the British Royal Navy and the US Navy with its own derivative McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) T-45 Goshawk. The Indian Air Force also has 40 of the new Hawks on order with the British manufacturer. The Indian Hawks are assembled in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).