New Delhi, Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief ACM BS Dhanoa on Tuesday said that the non-upgraded version of Russian-origin fighter jet MiG-21 will be phased out in December this year. “The MiG 21 MF has completed 44 years and it will be phased out by December. Hopefully, I will fly the last sortie in September subject to visibility, ACM Dhanoa told reporters here.
For MiG being into service for over four decades, the IAF Chief appreciated the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and said, “The obsolete management done by the HAL and the BRD (Base Repair Depot) are praiseworthy. Over 95 per cent of components required in overhauling is being made in India only. The Russians are not flying MiG but we are flying because we have the overhaul facilities.”
“This is the reason we conduct seminars and give them our requirements and ask if you can make for us we will buy from you and not import from other countries,” he said on reducing the dependency on imports of defence components. The MiG-21 had entered into service in 1973-74. The Air Force chief had commanded the 17 squadron (flying Type 96) during the Kargil operations.
The shooting down of an F-16 by an IAF MiG-21 was praised as a major achievement. The MiG-21 flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman had shot down the F-16 which was part of a large package of Pakistan Air Force fighters trying to cross the border in Jammu and Kashmir to drop bombs at military installations in retaliation of the IAF’s bombing on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.
The MiG-21 flown by Wing Commander Varthaman was a modernised variant of the fighter, called the MiG-21 Bison. India is the world’s second-largest arms importer, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The country accounts for 9.5 per cent of the global total and is only behind Saudi Arabia.