NEW DELHI — India is taking action to retire its entire Soviet fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-29 fighter jets. By 2025, the Indian Air Force should ground four MiG-21 squadrons. By 2027, three MiG-29 squadrons are planned to be grounded reports this online defence portal.
The Indian media commented that the leadership of the Air Force of India or the IAF has prepared respectively a three and five-year plan for the implementation of the tasks. Already this September, the first MiG-21 squadron will be grounded and retired.
The Soviet MiG-21s of the IAF is not in good condition. Obsolete and now almost impossible to maintain, New Delhi will try to reduce its dependence on Soviet/Russian fighters. Indian experts say the decision to retire the MiG-21 has nothing to do with the plane that crashed this Thursday (July 28) in Barmer, Rajasthan.
An Indian MiG-21 squadron consists of 17-20 aircraft. However, the performance of these aircraft is very poor. Otherwise, it was the MiG-21 that was the mainstay of the Indian Air Force for a long time. This aircraft has a rich military history in the IAF inventory. It saw combat action during the Kargil conflict in 1999, as well as the operation to repel Pakistan’s retaliation on February 27, 2019. As part of the IAF, the MiG-21 has shot down more than one or two enemy fighters.
“We are also planning to decommission the MiG-29 fleet and the process will begin in the next five years,” said an Indian defence ministry official.
India is in the process of completely revamping its fighter-borne air combat capabilities. Apart from already producing its own model HAL TEJAS MK-1 and MK-2, New Delhi has made some impressive purchases in this field in the last two years. 36 new Dassault Rafale fighter jets are now guarding Indian skies. Military experts predict that the F/A-18 Super Hornet will displace the MiG-29 from India’s aircraft carriers. India continues to produce under license the excellent performing Sukhoi Su-30MKI.
Last but not least, New Delhi is preparing to equip its armed forces with a fifth-generation fighter jet that is currently under development. The project is worth 5 billion US dollars to develop a medium-heavy fighter with deep penetration. India has high hopes that this combat aircraft will significantly strengthen the air power of the Asian country.