IAF to phase out MiG-27, MiG-21

Two years after it grounded the MiG-27 fleet following a fatal crash, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to phase out the accident-prone fighters by 2016.

At the same time, the non-upgraded version of MiG-21 fighter aircraft will also be phased out by March 2018. The IAF hopes to induct a large number of the medium multi-role combat aircraft, which it will buy in the first phase and the indigenous light combat aircraft as the new platforms of choice.

“Plans to phase out equipment approaching redundancy are in place. Non-upgraded MiG-27 and MiG-21 are being phased out progressively by March 2016 and 2018 respectively,” Defence Minister A K Antony said at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting here on Monday.The MiG-27s were inducted in the 1980s but upgraded later. It had a relatively clean safety record till 2010 when there were four MiG-27 crashes, including a fatal one. Every plane in the fleet was grounded and inspected following the accident.The government has, however, decided to say goodbye to the ageing fighter, which is currently being used only by India, Sri Lanka and Kazak air forces.

India purchased a total of 872 MiG aircraft of various types between 1966 and 1980 and till April 2012 as many as 482 MiG accidents took place since 1971-72. A total of 171 pilots, 39 civilians, 8 service personnel and one air crew lost their lives in those accidents.

Asked how many non-upgraded version of MiG-27 and MiG-21 IAF has under its fold, the IAF spokesperson said he could not provide any figure offhand and required to check records at the IAF headquarters. Antony has also asked the IAF to complete its pending court of inquiries at the earliest, specially the category-I accidents. Category-I accidents are those in which the aircraft is damaged beyond economical repair, or is missing, or the cost of repair — excluding damage to aero-engines — exceeds 50 per cent of the total cost.

A joint committee comprising representatives of the Defence Ministry, IAF, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, DRDO and the director-general air quality assurance had been constituted to monitor the implementation of court of inquiry recommendations, Antony informed the House committee.

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