Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 1
The Air Force’s MiG-27 strike aircraft would fly into the sunset on the last day of this year, bringing to an end the era of ‘swing-wing’ fighters in the IAF.
IAF sources said the fleet is formally being retired on December 31 and a ceremony is being organised at the Jodhpur airbase, where the last remaining MiG-27 outfit, No.29 Squadron, also called Scorpions, is based. Besides squadron officers, other IAF serving and retired personnel who have been associated with the aircraft are expected to attend the event.
Nicknamed Bahadur in India, the Soviet origin MiG-27 was inducted into the IAF in 1984 and over the years served seven operational squadrons and other combat training and tactics-evaluation establishments. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) built 165 of these aircraft and in 2004, HAL began upgrading some of these aircraft, christened MiG-27 UPG, to enhance their combat capability and extend their service life.
Armed with rockets, bombs and air-to-surface missiles, the aircraft formed an important element of the IAF’s ground attack and tactical close support capability. They had last seen active combat in the sub-continent during the 1999 Kargil conflict when these were used, with limited effect though, to launch aerial attacks on enemy positions along the Line of Control.
While the upgraded version continued in service, the IAF began retiring the earlier ‘M’ and ‘ML’ variants a few years ago. The last ML versions were decommissioned in 2017 at the Hashimara airbase in North-East. Over the past few years the fleet, due to its age, was facing a serious serviceability problem. Like the MiG-21, India is among the last nations to operate the MiG-27. The remaining MiG-21s are expected to serve for another about four years.
No swing-wing jet in iaf’s inventory
- The IAF’s tryst with swing-wing aircraft began in 1981 with the MiG-23, which came in two versions the ‘BN’ for ground attack and the ‘MF’ for air defence
- The MiG-23s were decommissioned in 2009 from the Halwara airbase in Punjab. With the MiG-27 also retiring, there will be no more swing-wing aircraft
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