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MiG-21 fighter jets to fly into history

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IAF MiG-21 fighter jet. A file photo

NEW DELHI/KOLKATA (PTI): One of the first variants of India's  MiG 21 combat aircraft, which dealt severe blows to Pakistan Air Force in the 1971 war, will fly into the annals of history on Wednesday.

The aircraft will undertake its last ceremonial flight at a phasing out ceremony at the air force station in Kalaikunda, West Bengal, in the presence of Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, Chief of the Air Staff.

"The deafening roar of the MiG-21 FL afterburner, an iconic delta-wing fighter aircraft that heralded the 'supersonic era' in IAF will no longer be heard after December 11, 2013, the day it is set to fly into the annals of military aviation history," an IAF release said here.

Four MiG-21 FL aircraft flown by pilots from the Operational Conversion Unit, the last abode of the venerable jets, will fly a 'box formation' as Browne will take the salute at the ceremonial parade to bid them adieu.

Formations of MiG-27 ML and Sukhoi-30MKI will also fly past the parade square in reverence to the legend of a fighter jet that remains the most widely exploited platform in IAF history and also witnessed action in the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971.

Being limited in numbers, the MiG-21s played a restricted role in the 1965 war but played a crucial role in the 1971 war giving IAF the air superiority over vital points and areas in the western theatre, the release said.

In the first-ever supersonic air combat that ensued over the sub-continent in 1971, an Indian Mig-21 FL claimed a PAF F-104 Starfighter with its internal twin-barrelled guns alone and by the end of hostilities the IAF Mig-21s had claimed 4 Pakistani F-104s, 2 F-6s, one each F-86 Sabre and Lockheed C-130 Hercules, it said.

The pin-point accurate attack on the Governor's House in Dhaka by IAF pilots flying the MiG-21s proved to be a turning point in the war forcing the adversary to negotiate an eventual surrender, it said. The aircraft were also fielded in the Kargil war.

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