Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Krishna Menon and the MIG 21: First Russian Fighter Jet for IAF

Role of Krishna Menon
 The MIG 21 has been the backbone of the Indian Air Force for almost 5 decades. During this period the MIG 21 and its variants have done yeoman service for the IAF and have to say the least done well. Credit for the induction of the MIG must go to Krishna Menon the defense Minister of India. In 1961 he took a monumental decision to go in for the Soviet plane in preference to comparative Western fighters. The deal was swung by the Russians as they offered to give technical knowhow to manufacture the plane. Accordingly two MIG plants came up in India at Nashik and Koraput and these plants manufactured over 600 planes for the Indian Air Force. the bulk of the IAF squadrons were equipped with the MIG 21.

MIG 21 Vrs F-104
 The MIG was a Mach 2 supersonic interceptor with a delta wing and single engine. But its endurance was only 45 minutes and hence great care was undertaken in planning missions with this aircraft. The MIG first saw action in the 1965 war. But its real forte emerged in the 1971 war when it proved the better fighter than the Pakistan Air Force F104 star fighter. The Star fighter was a gift of the US to Pakistan. The MIG 21 was also used in the 1999 Kargil conflict when one plane was also lost to a stinger missile. Its last kill was the Atalntiq Naval plane which was shot down in the Kutch.

 The plane over the years has done excellent service for the Indian Air force. The MIG 21 is a supersonic interceptor that has an air-conditioned canopy. It also carries missiles.
The IAF has however lost over a 100 MIGs in accidents and ground attacks over the years. This does appear an inordinate large number as 83 pilots have also died. But people feel that these accidents are not a reflection on the plane and to prove it the earlier Chief Air Marshal Tyagi regularly flew it.

 The MIG 21 is now going into the sunset and the upgraded version is slated to be phased put by 2017. But the era of the MIG and the history of the IAF are linked for ever and can never be erased. The MiG 21 remained the backbone of the IAF fleet for almost 5 decades.