A decommissioned MIG-21 supersonic fighter aircraft now stands parked outside a Dhaba on a highway in Haryana.
According to The Indian Express, the aircraft has been displayed in front of ‘Maharaja Dhaba’ on Rohtak-Delhi highway.
The decommissioned aircraft retain the complete body, but the engine is removed.
“It attracts a lot of people. They stop their cars here especially to get selfies clicked with the aircraft in the background,” says Kamal Sodhi, manager of the dhaba, while speaking to The Indian Express. The hotel management had brought the fighter aircraft even before inauguration of the eatery in 2019.
According to Sodhi, the aircraft was purchased during an auction held in Pathankot in Punjab. “It was brought here in a trailer-truck after being dismantled into a few pieces. Otherwise it would have created problems in the normal movement of the traffic. It was reassemble at the dhaba site,” says Sodhi.
IAF officers say that a decommissioned aircraft sold as scrap is not expected to be in complete shape and form as is the one displayed at the dhaba.
This aircraft seemingly looks complete though the undercarriage appears to have been put with some local modification.
“There is a long waiting list of educational institutions and training institutions that have applied for decommissioned fighter aircraft for putting it up on display. Only badly damaged aircraft are meant to be sold as scrap in parts and not as a whole. Tenders are floated for this exercise,” said Air Marshal M Matheswaran (retd), a former Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and a former fighter pilot himself.
A supersonic fighter jet and interceptor aircraft, MiG-21 was designed by the erstwhile Soviet Union, which began its manufacturing in the 1950s. It still has a reputation as one of the world’s best fighter jet. India reportedly has 100-odd upgraded MIG-21 aircraft in its fleet.