Indian Air Force to phase out its entire fleet of MiG-21 aircraft by 2025
New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to withdraw a squadron of MiG-21 Bison aircraft by September 30. Thereafter, only three squadrons of the aircraft will remain in service, which will be phased out by 2025.
“The 51st Squadron based at Srinagar airport will be registered on September 30… Thereafter, each year one squadron will be fitted with a registration plate,” sources said.
51 Squadron is famous for thwarting Pakistan’s air attack on India on February 27, 2019 and shooting down an F-16 by an aircraft piloted by Wing Commander (now Group Captain) Abhinandan Varthaman.
Sources said this is the only instance where a MiG-21 aircraft shot down an F-16 in air-to-air combat.
The IAF is replacing MiG-21 fighter jets with more capable aircraft like the Su-30 and indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA).
Over the past 20 months, 6 MiG-21 aircraft have crashed in accidents in which five pilots have lost their lives. On Thursday evening, a MiG-21 Type 69 Trainer plane crashed in Barmer, Rajasthan, killing both pilots.
The MiG-21 was supposed to be discontinued long ago, but the delay in induction of the LCA Tejas aircraft forced the IAF to continue flying these aircraft.
According to officials, the IAF performs thorough pre-flight checks of these aircraft and all safety aspects are taken care of before the pilot takes off.
Officials said the registered squadron would soon be reactivated with more capable aircraft in the near future.