New Delhi: One of the extremely potent air-to-ground strike aircraft that IAF has ever operated is Mikoyan MiG 27. The flight will pass into history tomorrow after serving with the Air Force for 38 long years. The fighter jets, which played a crucial role for the IAF in the Kargil War, were inducted in 1981. The last Squadron of MiG 27 — 29 Scorpios — is based in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur.
Over a momentous mark, all MiG 27 fighter aircraft in the squadron will take their last flight on December 27 from the air force station, and after that, they will be phased out of the 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 group of MiG 27 in the country. Recently, I was fortunate enough to witness these mighty birds in action at the mega exercise — EX-Vayu Shakti-2019. They involved 140 fighter jets and attack helicopters in a firepower demonstration held close to Pakistan’s border at Pokhran in Rajasthan.
As a genuinely dependable asset of IAF, the MiG 27s were capable of carrying a large variety of armament loads comprising of bombs, rockets and front guns. As a swing-wing aircraft, Bahadurs (MiG 27) were capable of operating 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 weighing 11,500 kg. Besides, in an advantageous position with a variable geometry wing, each Bahadur allowed its pilot to change the wing-sweep angle while flying according to mission requirements to achieve optimum flying characteristics.
While imbibing more on the aircraft and the winding down occasion tomorrow, a senior air force official expressed, “It’s the last time that MiG-23/MiG-27 class variable-sweep (Swing Wing) Russian origin aircraft will take on to the Indian sky tomorrow. After almost four decades of excellent service to the nation, it does call for an appropriate reporting for these aircraft. It is what I 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. With excellent forward visibility and all-around view, the planes could drop bombs, fire rockets, or precision ammunition guided by TV/laser. It also utilises air-to-air missiles for self-defence, 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 declining, 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.