The Indian Air Force’s last-remaining MiG-27 supersonic attack bombers are set to whoosh into the air for the last time before being phased out amid the country’s major rearmament program, reports say.
The jets will conduct their final flight from the Jodhpur Air Base in the northwestern Rajasthan State, bordering Pakistan, on December 27 before officially retiring three days later, Indian media said, citing sources. The base is the home to the No. 29 Squadron, known as ‘Scorpions’, the only Indian Air Force (IAF) unit that still uses MiG-27s.
Also known by its NATO reported name Flogger, the MiG-27 was designed by the Soviet Union in the Cold War and entered service in the early 1970s. The IAF got the plane a decade later. It was state-of-the-art aircraft of its time, becoming the backbone of the nation’s attack bomber fleet. The jet proved to be lethal all-round, as it could destroy ground targets with rockets and bombs, as well as fire air-to-air missiles if attacked by an enemy’s interceptors.
The aircraft earned the name ‘Bahadur’ (Valiant), while its pilots proudly call themselves ‘Swing Wingers’ because the plane’s wings can be swept back and returned to the original position mid-air to improve flying capabilities.
India’s MiG-27s last saw action in 1999 during Operation Safed Sagar (Operation White Sea) against Pakistani troops and irregular forces in Kashmir in the brief but bloody Kargil War. The planes primarily bombed supply lines in the mountains and, according to some reports, aimed to trigger landslides and avalanches.
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Due to the jets’ old age, New Delhi has been phasing them out in favor of the French-made Dassault Rafale all-purpose fighter aircraft. Incidents, involving the MiG-27s have also become more frequent. One plane crashed in April, and another one in February. The pilots ejected to safety in both cases.
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