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IAF prepares to phase out MiG-23s

A MiG 23. IAF image

NEW DELHI (BNS): The Indian Air Force (IAF) will bid an emotional goodbye to a Soviet-era MiG-23 combat jet which occupied a unique place in its battle strategies for years.

The MiG-23, acquired more than three decades ago, will fly for the last time at forward base in Halwara on March 6 after which the squadron ceases to exist closing a symbolic chapter in the history of IAF.

The air superiority jet occupied a unique position for its distinct capabilities. It was one of the few swing wing combat jets. The platform of the aircraft could be modified in the middle of the flight according to the speed. The wings sweep back at high speeds and return to normal when flying slowly.

Considered to be a third generation aircraft, the IAF has only one remaining squadron of MiG-23. It was inducted primarily to counter the threat posed by Pakistan’s F-16 jets acquired from the US. Most of the aircraft have already been phased out.

The officials said that the role had been taken over by new combat jets like Su-30 MKIs. IAF will continue to have MiG-27s, developed on the MiG-23 platform. The MiG-27s have recently been upgraded with a new cockpit having all the modern features.

Some of the former IAF officers have vivid memories of the aircraft and they claimed that it introduced new high speed flying in IAF and the weapon delivery system was very unique. It was much ahead of the others.

The last remaining squadron of MiG-23 was based in Adampur, another forward base. The Halwara Air Base has the ground attack version of the MiG-23s. The unique swing role technology gave it an edge over others in its category.

The IAF officials said the force has gradually moved to flying fourth generation fighter. India has taken a giant leap in its combat jet strategies and has already planned to develop a fifth generation fighter. There would be a credible mix of fourth and fifth generation fighters in the coming years, officials said.

The IAF would be a formidable force in the coming years as there would be a number of new platforms which are the best in the world.

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