The entire MiG -21 squadron to be retired by 2025: IAF

Tags: Defence

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has announced that it is retiring its 51 Squadron consisting of MiG 21 Bison aircraft based in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir by September 2022.

After this, only three squadrons of the MIG 21 Bison planes would be left in service and would be phased out by the year 2025.

The Indian Air Force plans to retire one squadron each of these planes per year and the last one will be phased out in 2025.


Squadron 51 :

  • The squadron 51 which is also known as ‘Sword Arm’ became famous after it thwarted the Pakistan Air Force attack on India on 27, February 2019 after the IAF bombed terrorist site in Balakote, Pakistan.
  • Wing Commander (now Group Captain) Abhinandan Varthaman, who was awarded Vir Chakra for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 during a dogfight over the Line of Control on February 27, 2019, was in the No. 51 squadron then. 
  • It is the only instance in the world where a Mig-21 plane has shot down F-16 planes.

MiG 21 and its high crash rates :

  • MiG stands for Mikoyan and Gurevich and i, is the Russian word for and.
  • They were two Soviet engineers who designed the MiG series of fighter jets for the Soviet Union.
  • India inducted MiG-21 fighters in 1963 and it inducted a total 874 planes.
  •  More than 400 MiG-21s have been involved in accidents that have claimed the lives of around 200 pilots during the last six decades.
  • One of the main reasons for the high rates of crashes is that it is the largest number of planes in the IAF.  
  • The IAF has been forced to fly Mig-21 despite the fact that it has outlived its age. The government of India has failed to buy an adequate number of planes to replace existing MiG -21 planes.
  • Now the government plans to replace the MiG-21 plane with the various versions of the indigenously developed Tejas fighter Aircraft.

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