General Studies IIISecurity

MIG 21 Aircraft


Tejas is not being inducted as a replacement of MIG-21 fighter aircraft, but as a part of modernisation of IAF, Say Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Ajay Bhatt in a written reply to Shri Brijlal in Rajya Sabha

About MIG 21

  • The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 21  is a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union.
  • MiG is a product of Soviet Union which entered in to the service in 1959.
  • Its nicknames include: “balalaika”, because its planform resembles the stringed musical instrument 
  • Approximately 60 countries on four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations six decades after its maiden flight.
  • It made aviation records, becoming the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history, the most-produced combat aircraft since the Korean War and previously the longest production run of a combat aircraft (now exceeded by both the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon).
  • India inducted the MiG-21 in 1963 and got full technology transfer and rights to license-build the aircraft in the country.
  • Russia stopped producing the aircraft in 1985, while India continued operating the upgraded variants.

What is MiG 21 Bison?

The MiG-21 Bison, one of India’s six fighter jets, is of Russian origin. It is a single engine, single seater multirole fighter aircraft. It has a maximum speed of 2,230 km/hr and carries one 23mm twin-barrel cannon with four R-60 close combat missiles. It is described as the “back-bone” of the IAF.

This version of the MiG 21 — the last in a series of at least 15 variants — was flown for the first time in 1976. The MiG-21 Bison is described as an all-weather, multi-role fighter. It was inducted in the Indian Air Force in the early 1980s. India reportedly has 100 odd aircraft in its fleet.

MiG21 variants have been flown by nearly 40 countries. The former USSR began manufacturing these aircraft in the last 1950s. It still has a reputation as the world’s best fighter jet, with some 11,000 aircraft produced. Each has a life of up to 30 years.

Incidentally, a year ago, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi created history by becoming the first Indian woman pilot of the IAF to complete a solo flight in a MiG-21 Bison. Chaturvedi was from the first batch of three women officers who were commissioned as fighter pilots in the IAF in June 2016.

The Flying Coffin:

It is observed that the plane has been plagued with serious maintenance problems. From 1970 to 2013 at least 14 MiG’s have been crashed. These crashes are not only due to engine problem but also due to weather conditions.

The Indian Air Force due to lack of budgetary cuts is not able to purchase newer aircraft and has to make do with refitting new technology in an older machine. Due to these crashes, the plane has earned the name ‘Flying Coffin’ and ‘widowmaker’.

MIG 21 Design:

The aircraft has a delta wing which permits it to take turns without any rapid loss of speed. It has an operational range of 1210 Km, Flying speed of Mach 2 (2175 Km/h) and a surface ceiling of 17.8 Kms which makes it one of the best aircraft in its 3rd generation league.

India – Pakistan 2019 Skirmish:

After the Pulwama attack, the Indian govt has scaled up its military activity and adopted its “Offensive Defence” strategy. In retaliation to 26 Feb attack of the Indian Air Force where they conducting air strikes at Balakot, the Pakistan Air Force on 27 Feb planned to attack Indian Military bases with USA’s F-16 Aircraft. The Indian Air Force was ready with its interceptors and shot down one of the F-16s. Though the Indian MiG-21 piloted by Wing Cdr Abhinandan was also shot down but the global reaction was majorly focused on the fact that how did the Indian Pilot achieve this feat let’s look at the specification of the two aircrafts:

MiG 21 Aircraft vs F-16 Aircraft:

SpecificationMig-21 BisonF-16
Nick NameFish BedFighting Falcon
Generation3rd Generation4th Generation
Range1210 Km4220 km
MissilesR-73, R-77AIM-7, AIM 120 AMRAAM
Speed2175 Km/h2400 Km/h
Combat Radius370 Km547 Km

MIG 21 Aircraft Upgrades:

The MiG 21 also went under significant up gradation in 2006 with Multi-mode Radar, Better avionics & communication systems to give an edge over other aircraft. It was then renamed ‘MiG -21 Bison’. It was also fitted with R-73 Archer short range and R-77 medium-range anti-aircraft missile. It was also equipped with Helmet mounted displays which assisted the pilot while engaging in a dogfight.

Source: PIB

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