MiG-21s well past their retirement age: Here's why IAF needs new jets

As aircraft age, the number of failures due to the ageing of their functional equipment or system components grows

MiG 21, indian air force, iaf
MiG-21 aircraft. Photo source: Wikipedia

The MiG-21 Bison that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was flying when he was downed by a Pakistan Air Force F-16 was well past its retirement age, and kept alive with repeated upgrades and service life extensions, experts have told IndiaSpend. The accident-prone Russian-made MiGs--482 of which were lost to accidents between 1971 and April 2012, averaging nearly 12 a year--were first inducted into the Indian Air Force in the mid-1960s. These were to retire by the mid-1990s, but were upgraded to Bison standard, even as successive variants were inducted until the ...