One of the extremely potent air to ground strike aircraft that IAF has ever operated is – Mikoyan-Gurevich-27 alias (MiG-27) to pass into history tomorrow after serving with the air warriors for 38 long years. The fighter jet, which played a crucial role for the IAF in the Kargil War, was inducted in the Indian Air Force in 1981. The last Squadron of MiG 27 – ’29 Scorpios’ is based in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur, India.
Over a momentous mark, all the MiG 27 fighter aircraft in the Squadron will take their last flight tomorrow from AFS and thereafter will be phased out of Indian Air Force. Three years ago, two squadrons of MiG 27 were phased out in Bengal’s Hashimara and Squadron 29 is the last remaining Squadron of MiG 27 in the country. In my recent past, I was fortunate enough to witness these mighty birds in action at the mega exercise, EX-Vayu Shakti-2019 which involved 140 fighter jets and attack helicopters, in a firepower demonstration that was held close to the border with Pakistan at Pokhran in Rajasthan.
As a truly dependable asset of IAF, the MiG 27s were capable to carry a large variety of armament loads comprising of bombs, rockets and front guns. As a swing-wing aircraft, Bahadurs (MiG 27) were capable to operate over a wide range of speed spectrum with a max speed of 1.77 Mach. The formidable strike aircraft has the single most powerful engine in the world. As a power source Bahadurs are fitted with one Tumansky R29B-300 turbojet engine weighs 11,500 kg.And, in an advantage position with variable geometry wing each Bahadur(s) allowed its pilot to change the wing sweep angle while flying as per the mission requirements to achieve optimum flying characteristics.
Whilst imbibing more on the aircraft and the winding down occasion tomorrow, in the sideline of my conversation, a senior air force official expressed, “It’s one last time that MiG-23/MiG-27 class variable sweep (Swing Wing) Russian origin aircraft will take on to the Indian sky tomorrow. Almost, after four decades of glorious service to nation, it does call for an appropriate reporting for these aircraft what I personally feel as a proud ‘Bahadur’ pilot myself.”
Sophisticated avionics and weapon computers always enabled the capability of delivering a variety of loads in different modes of attack with immense precision for the MiG 27s.
Good forward visibility and all-around view, the planes could drop bombs, or fire rockets, precision ammunition guided by TV/laser and also air-to-air missiles for self defence, thus making it a lethal and a potent weapon platform for IAF. Its pilots proudly call themselves `Swing Wingers` and have always vouched for the aircraft`s precise weapon delivery and rapid acceleration.
The operational life of the aircraft was on a descend followed by many technical snags as reported across the country. However, tomorrow having arrived at the AFS Jodhpur many of us will be waiting with great anticipation for the MiG-27 ( Bahadurs ) to assemble and disappear thundering into the heights as their last remaining airworthy example.
(The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications)