All Russian origin MiG 21 and MiG 27 fighter aircraft in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be decommissioned in phased manner by 2024, according to the Defense Ministry.
“The MiG-21 and MiG-27 UPG (Upgraded) aircraft of the Indian Air Force will be phased out on completion of their Total Calendar Life or Total Technical Life by 2024," Sunday Guardian quoted Ministry of Defense as stating Saturday.
The accident-prone fighters have been dubbed as “flying coffins” by some defence experts as they have been living way past their lives.
According to the MoD, over 400 MiG-21s have crashed since the 1970s and many of them were due to technical snags.
The jets had been purchased from Russia in the 1960s. During 1980s, IAF introduced the Tejas programme to replace the ageing jets. But due to delays, India decided to extend the Total Technical Life (TTL) of its MiG-21s by upgrading their turbofan engines, radars, avionics, etc.
The IAF presently has 31 flight squadrons as against its requirement of 42. With the phasing out of the MiG 21s, the air force will be left with only 15-16 flight squadrons.