IAF's "lethal" fighter aircraft Mig 27, which proved to be "ace attacker" during the 1999 Kargil war and earned nickname of 'Bahadur' from pilots, roared through the skies for one last time on Friday after serving the IAF for over three decades.
The swing-wing fighter has been the backbone of ground-attack fleet of the Air Force for several decades and the IAF bid adieu to its squadron of seven aircraft from Jodhpur Air Base.
"The upgraded variant of this last swing-wing fleet has been the pride of IAF strike fleet since 2006. All other variants, such as MiG-23 BN and MiG-23 MF and the pure MiG-27 have already retired from IAF," the defence ministry said on Thursday.
"The fleet earned its glory in the historic Kargil conflict when it delivered rockets and bombs with accuracy on enemy positions. The fleet also took active part in Operation Parakram," the ministry said.
A New Delhi-based IAF officer said the Jodhpur-based squadron of MiG 27 is the last one not only in India but the entire world.
"After decommissioning of MiG 27's last squadron from Jodhpur air base, the aircraft will pass into history not only in India but in the entire world. No other country operates MiG 27 now," said the officer, requesting anonymity.
Jodhpur had two squadrons of MiG 27, of which one had been decommissioned earlier this year, he said. This is the only squadron left now known as Scorpion 29 comprising seven upgraded MiG 27 at Jodhpur Air Base, he added. Before this, two squadrons of MiG 27 had been decommissioned from Hashimara air base in West Bengal.
The Number 29 Squadron is the only unit in the IAF operating the MiG-27 upgrades, it said in a statement. The upgraded version, because of its survivability, has participated in numerous national and international exercises.
The Squadron was raised on 10 March, 1958, at Air Force Station Halwara with Ouragan (Toofani) aircraft. "Over the years, the Squadron has been equipped with numerous types of fighters such as MiG-21 Type 77, MiG-21 Type 96, MiG-27 ML and MiG-27 upgrade," the ministry said.
The Squadron is now slated to be number plated on 31 March, 2020, with 27 December being its last flying day, thereby making the swing-wing fleet a part of IAF's glorious history. Various functions have been planned for the de-induction ceremony at Air Force Station, Jodhpur.
The IAF also tweeted about MiG-27's last sortie on Friday.
"#AdieuMiG27 Indian Air Force bids farewell to the mighty MiG-27 tomorrow. The aircraft will be decommissioned in a grand ceremony to be held at Air Force Station Jodhpur on 27 Dec 19.
"This formidable ground attack fighter aircraft has served the Nation for over three decades. Inducted in 1985, MiG-27 has been the mainstay of IAF's ground attack capability. It has participated in all major #IAF operations and has played a stellar role in the 1999 Kargil War," the IAF said in a series of tweets.
The lethal aircraft, for their role during the 1999 Kargil War, earned the moniker 'Bahadur' from IAF pilots.
"Veteran air warriors along with serving air warriors in large numbers are taking part in the ceremony. Air Marshal SK Ghotia VSM, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief South Western Air Command would be presiding over the wind down ceremony," the defence ministry said.
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Updated Date: Dec 27, 2019 10:42:40 IST