Cold War Era

India to gift three airworthy MiG-21s to Russia

The MiG-21s are in flight-worthy condition and will get new registration numbers and may be adopted for vintage flight

The Hindu is reporting that India plans to donate three MiG-21s to Russia when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits New Delhi on Oct. 4 for an official visit.

“Three MiG-21s are scheduled to be handed over to Russians based on a request from their Defence Minister to our Defence Minister. They comprise one Type 75 aircraft and two Type 77 aircraft,” an official source said.

The aircraft (one MiG-21bis and two MiG-21FLs) are in airworthy condition and will get new registration numbers and may be adopted for vintage flight.

Russia will bear the costs for transporting them back home.

The MiG-21 is one of the world’s most famous jet fighters. This Soviet-made aircraft first flew in 1955, and more than 50 countries have used various versions. Western forces code-named the MiG-21 “Fishbed,” and some versions have flown well into the 21st century. The USSR built more than 10,000 MiG-21s before ending production in 1985.

In the Vietnam War, the MiG-21 was a dangerous adversary. Fast as U.S. jets, it was more agile than the F-4 Phantom, its main opponent. Although American forces lost about 50 aircraft to North Vietnamese MiG-21s, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) shot down 68 MiG-21s in air combat.

India inducted the MiG-21 in 1963 and got full technology transfer and rights to license-build the aircraft in the country. It is the first supersonic fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The IAF still has about 120 Fishbeds in service which will all be phased out of service by 2021-22.

Photo credit: Sheeju at English Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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