The Indian Air Force is to phase out the remaining four MiG-21 fighter squadrons by 2021 and three squadrons of MiG-29 fighter jets by 2025.
The Indian Air Force or IAF has drawn up a three-year timeline to phase out the remaining four MiG-21 fighter squadrons with one of them set to retire from service in September, people familiar with the development said.
The Indian Air Force also plans to start the phasing out of the three squadrons of MiG-29 fighter jets in the next five years (2027), they told Press Trust of India.
Currently, the IAF has around 70 MiG-21 aircraft and 50 MiG-29 variants.
“We are also planning to retire the MiG-29 fleet and the process will start in the next five years,” an official said.
MiG-21s were the mainstay of the IAF for a long time. However, the aircraft has had a very poor safety record of late.
The first fleet of the MiG variant was inducted into the IAF in 1963 and India procured over 700 MiG variants in the subsequent decades.
To help the IAF replace its ageing fighter fleet, the Defence ministry in February last year sealed a ₹ 48,000 crore deal with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for the procurement of 83 Tejas fighter aircraft. The IAF is also in the process of procuring 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA).
A senior official said the IAF will not be able to reach the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons in the next 10-15 years notwithstanding all the planned acquisitions as a significant number of aircraft are being phased out.