Indian Air Force to retire Abhinandan Varthaman's MiG-21 squadron on September 30: Report
The historic episode beyond the enemy lines took place a day after the Indian Air Force annihilated a terror facility in Pakistan's Balakot when IAF's Mirage-2000s bombed the region in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on February 26, 2019.
The Indian Air Force is all set to retire one of its four remaining squadrons of the ageing MiG-21 fighter jets on September 30. This comes three-and-a-half years after the IAF scripted a historic episode of bravery beyond enemy lines.
Wing Commander (now Group Captain) Abhinandan Varthaman, who was awarded Vir Chakra for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 combat aircraft during a dogfight over the Line of Control on February 27, 2019, was part of the squadron at the time.
The historic episode beyond the enemy lines took place a day after the Indian Air Force annihilated a terror facility in Pakistan's Balakot when IAF's Mirage-2000s bombed the region in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on February 26, 2019. The attack was in retaliation to the Pulwama suicide attack in Kashmir in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed on February 14.
According to officials, the other three MiG-21 squadrons will be phased out by 2025.
In recent years, several MiG-21s have crashed, with the accidents turning the spotlight on India's longest-serving fighter plane, its safety record and IAF's plans to replace the ageing jets with newer models in the coming years.
The air force got its first single-engine MiG-21 in 1963, and it went on to induct 874 variants of the Soviet-origin supersonic fighters to bolster its combat potential.
According to reports, over 400 MiG-21s have been involved in accidents over the past six decades, killing around 200 pilots.
More MiG-21s have crashed than any other fighter jets because they formed the bulk of the combat aircraft in the IAF's inventory for a long time. The air force had to keep its MiG-21 fleet flying longer than it would have liked because of delays in the induction of new aircraft.
IAF is inducting different variants of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft to replace the MiG-21s.