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IAF to phase out MiG 21 FL variants on Dec 11

A four aircraft 'Box Formation' flown by Mig-21 FL during a rehearsal ahead of the phasing-out of the iconic fighter jets. An MoD photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): The iconic Mig-21 FL fighter jet, one of the first variants of the MiG 21 combat aircraft, which dealt severe blows to Pakistan Air Force in the 1971 war, will be phased out from the IAF on Wednesday.

"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.

On the occasion, four MiG-21 FL aircraft flown by pilots from the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) in the northeast will fly a 'box formation'. IAF chief N A K Browne will salute at the ceremonial parade to bid them adieu.

The aircraft will be accompanied by the formations of MiG-27 ML and the Sukhoi-30 MKI will also join the MiG 21 FLs in the flypast.

These fighter jets remain the most widely exploited platform in IAF history and also saw 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.

The pin-point accurate attack on the Governor's House at Dhaka by IAF pilots flying the MiG-21s proved a turning point in the war, forcing the adversary to negotiate an eventual surrender, the official statement said.

The aircraft were also fielded in the Kargil war.

With the phasing out of the MiG-21 FL, an era of relentless performance, precision deliverance and intimidating performance will also come to an end, the release said.


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