Indian Air Force to Retire MiG-27 Combat Aircraft This Year

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will formally retire its last remaining squadron of MiG-27 combat aircraft during a ceremony at the Jodhpur Air Force Station in Rajasthan on Dec. 31, according to local reports.

The jets, which are the only remaining variable-sweep wing (swing-wing) aircraft in the IAF service, will reportedly conduct their last flight on Dec. 27.

The MIG-27 aircraft are currently only operated by the IAF’s No. 29 Squadron “Scorpions”, based at the Jodhpur AFS, following the decommissioning of MIG-27M/MLs assigned to the No. 222 Squadron “Tigersharks” and No. 22 Squadron “Swifts” at Hasimara Air Force Station in 2017.

The MiG-27 was inducted into IAF service in 1984. At the time of induction, the aircraft was the most powerful single-engine aircraft in the world. Over the next three and a half decades, the aircraft served in seven operational squadrons and other combat training and tactics-evaluation establishments.

The aircraft served as the mainstay of IAF’s ground attack and tactical close air support (CAS) capability throughout much of the 90s and 2000s. The jets played a crucial role in the Kargil War dropping bombs, rockets, and precision-guided munitions.

The IAF MiG-27 fleet was plagued by accidents during the last few years, with India losing over a dozen jets in crashes. In March this year, a MiG-27 aircraft crashed in Sirohi district about 120 km south of Jodhpur after taking off from Uttarlai Air Force Station for a routine sortie.

Much of the IAF MiG-27 jets (165 out of around 210) were license-produced in India by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the Bahadur (Valiant). All the currently operational MiG-27s are in the MiG-27UPG standard following the upgrade by HAL starting 2004 and the retiring of remaining M and ML variants a few years ago.

As with the MiG-21 “Fishbed”, India is also among the last nations to operate the MiG-27. The remaining MIG-21bis aircraft are scheduled to be retired by 2021–2022.

The Mikoyan MiG-27 (NATO reporting name: Flogger-D/J) is a Soviet variable-geometry ground-attack aircraft, originally built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) design bureau. The aircraft is based on the MiG-23 fighter aircraft but optimized for air-to-ground attack missions.

Unlike the MiG-23, the MiG-27 did not have widespread use outside Russia, as most countries opted for the MiG-23BN and Sukhoi Su-22 instead. The aircraft remains in active service with the Indian and Kazakh Air Forces in the ground attack role. All Russian, Ukrainian, and Sri Lankan MiG-27s have been retired.

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