IAF to phase out three more MiG Squadrons

The Indian Air Force is slated to phase out three of its ageing MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons,  furtherdepleting the squadron strength.

They include two non-upgraded squadrons of MiG-27 at Halwara and Kalaikunda and another squadron of MiG-21. Each squadron comprises 18-20 planes.

The IAF has a sanctioned strength of 42 fighter squadrons, but a large number of them are outdated MiGs that were inducted in the 1960s and 1970s. Only the upgraded MiG-21 BISONS are slated to fly till 2025. All MiGs are slated to retire between 2014 and 2025.

Though the progress on buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France is unknown, the Air Force is likely to receive another squadron of the heavier Su-30 MKI this year.

India contracted 272 Su-30MKI from Russia for license production at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. So far more than 200 platforms were inducted to the IAF, which have positioned them at Pune, Bareilly, Tezpur, Chabua, Halwara and Jodhpur and planned to set up a new Su-30 MKI squadron at Sirsa in Haryana.

Other fighters that the IAF operates include Mirage-2000, Jaguars, and two squadrons of upgraded MiG-27. The indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft is still not part of the IAF’s operational squadrons, more than 30 years after the research work began on the indigenous fighter.

Senior Air Force officials hope that the government will quickly wrap up the ongoing negotiations for 36 Rafale jets with France.

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