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MiG-21 Fighter Jets and India

  • Published
    29th Jul, 2022
Context

The MiG-21 trainer, which had taken off from the rom the Uttarlai airbase, crashed near Bhimda village in Rajasthan. MiG-21 Fighter was developed by the Soviet Union and India being its largest user should focus on its limited uses.

Background
  • India is the largest operator of MiG-21s. In 1961, the Indian Air Force (IAF) opted to purchase the MiG-21 over several other Western competitors.
  • As part of the deal, the Soviet Union offered India full transfer of technology and rights for local assembly.
  • In 1964, the MiG-21 became the first supersonic fighter jet to enter service with the IAF.
  • Due to limited induction numbers and lack of pilot training, the IAF MiG-21 played a limited role in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
  • However, the IAF gained valuable experience while operating the MiG-21 for defensive sorties during the war.
  • Since 1963, India has introduced more than 1,200 MiG fighters into its air force.
  • As of 2019, 113 MiG-21s are known to be in operation in the IAF.

What is Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG-21)?

  • The Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG-21) is a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union.
  • Approximately 60 countries across four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations six decades after its maiden flight.
  • It became the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history, the most-produced combat aircraft since the Korean War.

Design Specifications:                                                                                                                                                           

  • Speed: Mach 2.05 at altitude; Mach 1.05 at sea level.
  • Initial Climb Rate: 58,000 ft/min.
  • Range: 585 nm.
  • Service Ceiling: 57,400 ft.
  • Wingspan: 23.46 ft.
  • Length: 40.29 ft.
  • Height: 13.46 ft.

What is the issue with MiG-21 jets?

However, the plane has been plagued by safety problems.

  • Lack of Maintenance: Since 1970 more than 170 Indian pilots and 40 civilians have been killed in MiG-21 accidents. At least 14 MiG-21s have crashed between 2010 and 2013.
  • Poor maintenance and quality of replacement parts has been considered to be a factor in this phenomenon
  • Design issues: When in afterburner, the engine operates very close to its surge line and the ingestion of even a small bird can lead to an engine surge/seizure and flame out.
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