India to phase out MiG-21 fighter jets by 2025: report

An Indian Air Force personnel arranges ammunition in front of a MIG-21 fighter jet at DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow on February 5, 2020. — Reuters/Pawan Kumar/File photo

India will phase out all its Soviet-era Russian fighter jets, the MiG-21, by 2025, a newspaper reported on Saturday, after two officers died in a crash, the number of deaths caused by the failure of the single-engine jet. The latest in the series. .

gave Times of India Indian Air Force officials were quoted on condition of anonymity as saying that the retirement of the MiG-21s is long overdue but must be replaced before they are grounded.

The report did not specify which part of India’s fighter jet capability would be affected. gave Vion The Air Force has about 70 MiG-21 aircraft, the news outlet said. The Air Force and Ministry of Defense have been buying aircraft from Western manufacturers in recent years.

A senior Defense Ministry official declined to confirm or deny this. Times of India Report, tell Reuters Only that the MiG-21’s future was under discussion, as the war in Ukraine made it increasingly difficult to obtain spare parts from Russia.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The MiG-21, dubbed the “flying coffin” by the Indian press, has been the country’s main fighter jet since its introduction in 1963 but has been plagued by accidents in later years.

The jets have been an important security asset in India’s military infrastructure, for example being used to attack neighboring Pakistan after a suspected suicide attack in the occupied Kashmir region in 2019.

The crash of an Air Force MiG-21 Bison in the desert state of Rajasthan on Thursday took the number of MiG-21 accidents since last year to six, killing five personnel, according to official figures and a source. have been killed.

In 2012, then Defense Minister AK Antony told Parliament that more than half of India’s 872 MiG-21s had crashed in the last four decades.