The Indian Air force is still flying 44-year-old MiG-21 fighter jets when no one even drives cars that old, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa trolled his own organization today.
“We are still flying MiG-21 which is 44 years old but nobody driving cars of that vintage,” Air Chief Dhanoa said with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh by his side.
The Air Chief also hinted that the basic version of the Russian fighter jet would be phased out this year. “Hopefully, I will fly the last sortie in September, subject to visibility,” he said.
The aircraft had been in service for 4 decades because of the overhauling using Indian-made components. “Over 95 percent of components required in overhauling is made in India. The Russians are not flying the MiG but we are because we have overhaul facilities,” said Air Chief BS Dhanoa.
The MiG-21 joined the Indian Air Force in 1973-74.
Questions have been raised about the performance of four-decade-old fighter jets that remain the core of Indian airforce and came into limelight after a recent engagement at the Line of Control, in which Pakistan used F-17 fighter jets against Indian fighter planes that commit a violation of Pakistan’s airspace, bringing down one Mig 21. Pakistan’s response to Indian aggression on February 27 will be remembered as “Operation Swift Retort”.
The Pakistan Airforce’s Squadron leader Hassan Siddiqui successfully downed the Indian MiG-21, operated by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, recalling the memory of 7 September 1965 when Air Commodore Muhammad Mahmood Alam SJ downed nine Indian Air Force aircraft during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, including five Hawker Hunter aircraft on one sortie.
The jet used by “failed Indian hero” Wing Commander Abhinandan, the pilot captured by Pakistan, was an upgraded variant called the MiG-21 Bison. 100 plus MiG-21 planes were locally upgraded in 2006 to MiG-21 Bison.
Indian Military and Airforce are known for using outdated and rusted equipment. The MiG-21 planes also crashed several times over the years and India has lost more than half of its MiG-21 combat fleet of around 900 aircraft.