UPDATED 19 April 2016 | In an interesting turn of events Ukraine has now said it would love to buy the 12 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbeds back that were recently refurbished and modernized in Odesa, Ukraine.
Update 19 April | Sources in Croatia now claim that several MiG-21s delivered by Ukraine are not the same aircraft Croatia thought it purchased earlier. Identification plates apparently show the aircraft to be five years older than the jets originally offered by Kiev.
The move from Kiev comes after Croatian radio reported an investigation into the finances behind the deal of 14 million euros. Some say fraud and bribing took place, since the Ukrainian offer was 5 million euros cheaper than of the cheapest other bidder.
“We are at war, so it is good to have great aircraft,” an Ukrainian official was quoted referring to the conflict in the east of the country with pro-Russian rebel forces supported by the regular Russian military.
Sending back the MiG-21s seems no option for Croatia however. The dozen Fishbeds flying from Zagreb/Pleso Airbase are the only fast combat asset the Balkan country has and are essential. Not only for the country’s air defence and combat air support to ground forces, but also to fulfill commitments to NATO of which Croatia has been a member since 2009.
Fancy a MiG or a Russian made Mil Mi helicopter? A Yak-18 trainer aircraft perhaps? Get ‘m while you can in Albania, where fourty former military aircraft are to be auctioned off on 22 February. They include ten MiG-19s, six MiG-21s, six Yak-18s and four Mi-4 helicopters.
The auction has already drawn interest from potential buyers worldwide, the Albanian ministry of defense in Tirana claims. They should not expect the aircraft to be in great shape, though. Albania is known to have stored a large amount of military jets for many years. Most famous is the storage at Kuçovë airbase, where dozens of jets are line up in open air.
The aircraft concerned are Russian made or Chinese copies of Russian designs. During the Cold War, Albania was able to field over a 140 fighter jets. Currently, helicopters form the country’s only airborne military capability.
Tirana expects the auction to haul in close to half a million USD. Parties interested are said to be private collectors and several museums.
On paper the Indian Air Force has roughly 700 fighter and strike jets, but in reality slightly only about half are operational raising concern about how effective the military of the 2nd largest population in the world is being protected.
The average aircraft availability measured over the entire year is about 50 to 55 percent, Defence officials have admitted towards the parliamentary committee on defence matters. About 20 percent of those jets are simply grounded because of the lack of spare parts, but Indian Air Force sources say that concerns mostly the older Soviet-era jets like the approx. 120 MiG-21 Bisons, 80 MiG-27 Bahadurs and 130 to 135 SEPECAT Shamshers (Jaguars).
The government watchdog authority also slashed the reputation of the Air Force’s three Ilyushin/Beriev A-50 AWACS aircraft. Lack of trained aircrew, lack of bases to operate from, lack of funds and resources for the aircraft maintenance have seriously hampered the effectiveness of the airborne radar and intelligence gathering platforms.
The Croatian Air Force this week celebrated the return of its MiG-21 Fishbed fleet to full strength following a major overhaul and upgrade program in Ukraine. The final aircraft was delivered on 16 July. Croatia now operates a total of twelve MiG-21s
The modernization program started two years ago with the signing of a contract worth 17.5 million EUR. It involved the overhaul and upgrade of seven Croatian MiG-21s and the purchase of five Ukrainian MiGs. The war in eastern Ukraine caused delays in the program, setting back last week’s final delivery by close to a year.
All Croatian MiG-21s were on show this week during a combined ceremony, exercise and airshow at Pleso airbase outside the Croatian capital of Zagreb.
The Indian Air Force will retire three more squadrons of 18 aircraft each this year. The units are equipped with either the aging Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 or the MiG-27, defence sources told media in India.
Meanwhile the top brass is hoping to quickly field another unit of Sukhoi Su-30 multi-role fighters, while the strength is going down quickly. With a wished-for strength of 42 squadrons, the Indian Air Force might go down to 32 or 33 in 2015.
Hopes are high for the indigenous developed Tejas, but the light combat jet is not expected before 2019. In the mean time the Indian Air Force needs to do what it can to fulfill its tasks with an aging fleet.