The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to phase out the remaining four squadrons of the Soviet-era MiG-21 fighter aircraft within a three-year time frame, with one of them likely to retire from service in September this year, according to reports.
The air force plans to retire all four MiG-21 squadrons by 2025. Currently, the IAF has around 70 MiG-21 aircraft and 50 MiG-29 variants.
Apart from that, plans are also afoot to retire the MiG-29 fleet, with the officials drawing up a timeline to phase out in the next five years.
Notably, the decision comes days after two IAF pilots died after MiG-21 fighter aircraft they were flying crashed in western Rajasthan’s Barmer district on Thursday. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
The MiG-21 is India’s longest-serving fighter plane. However, the aircraft has had a very poor safety record of late.
The aircraft was designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (OKB) of the erstwhile Soviet Union, and it made its maiden flight on 16 June, 1955.