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IAF bids adieu to MiG-21 T-96 and MiG-27ML

DH News Service, New Delhi, Dec 29 2017, 23:21 IST
MiG-21

MiG-21

The Indian Air Force on Friday bid adieu to two of its old Russian-origin MiG fighter aircraft, one of which was flown by the Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa in its swansong flight.

At the Nal airbase in Rajasthan, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa flew the last sortie of the Hawkeyes, 108 Squadron, bringing a glorious end to the reign of the MiG-21 T-96 aircraft, flown by the squadron.

This comes days after former IAF chief Fali Homi Major flew the last sortie of the Mi-8 helicopter in Bengaluru before the choppers stopped flying.

"It is in the IAF tradition to have the senior-most pilot fly the oldest machine while bidding adieu," said an IAF official.

The 108 Squadron is being 'number-plated', which means it would remain dormant for the time being and would be re-formed to produce new aircraft.

In Hashimara in West Bengal, the last MiG-27 ML roared for the last time in its farewell flight.

Named Bahadur, the swing-wing MiG-27 ML has the single most powerful engine in the world with a variable geometry wing that allows a pilot to change the wing sweep angle while flying as per the mission requirements.

The aircraft, which was flown by the 22 Squadron, is also being number-plated.

Though the MLs have retired, they are not the last swing-wing aircraft in service. Some of the MiG-27s were upgraded to MiG-27 UPG, which will continue to fly.

The MiG-27 UPGs are based in Jodhpur.

Out of its sanctioned strength of 42 fighter squadrons, IAF currently has only 33 squadrons.

But as many as 14 squadrons of the MiG 21, MiG 27 and MiG 29 are due for de-induction in the next 10 years, which will reduce the strength to 19 squadrons by 2027.

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