India to stop using MiG-21Bis in 2019
The Indian Air Force will be operating its fleet of about 120 MiG-21Bis fighters until 2019, that is, two years later than they were originally scheduled to be decommissioned, said Norman Anil Kumar Browne, Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
The decision by the Indian Air Force is due to the delay in the commissioning of India’s own HAL Tejas LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) and the purchase of 126 French Rafale fighters.
The Indian Ministry of Defence had previously announced that the MiG-21Bis would be decommissioned in 2017; however, there was an almost three-year delay in the achievement of initial combat readiness by the HAL Tejas LCA (until late 2013). Further, the deal for Rafale fighters has stalled, and the official contract is yet to be finalised.
According to Browne, India has purchased 874 MiG-21 fighters of various modifications since 1964. Of the total, 264 fighters are still operational. The MiG-21Bis’ Super Kopyo multimode radar system and French-made Totem 221G ring-laser gyro aiming-navigation system are enough for the Indian Air Force to continue using the MiG-21Bis up until 2019.
Meanwhile, three out of the 69 Indian MiG-29B/S fighters have been modernised in Russia as part of a $964 million contract signed in 2009. Three more fighters will be delivered to India in late 2013.
The remaining 63 MiG-29 fighters will be modernised at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) premises in Nashik and the 11th aircraft repair plant of the Indian Air Force in 2015–2016. These planes will be equipped with the new Klimov RD-33MK engine, the Zhuk-ME phased array radar produced by Fazotron-NIIR and the Vympel R-77 beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile.
Source: VPK News - 23 May 2013
Photo: The Indian Air Force MiG-21Bis Fighter Aircrafts are seen during the Air Force Day Parade Rehearsal at Palam Aiir Base in New Delhi. (Photo by Sandeep Saxena - thehindu.com)