Bringing an end to the 'swing-wing' fighters in the Indian Air Force (IAF), MiG-27 strike aircraft roared through the skies for the last time, today. The last squadron of seven aircraft based out of Air force station, Jodhpur flew their final sortie. Codenamed 'Bahadur' in India, MiG-27 has had an impeccable track record in its almost four decades of glorious service to the nation. 'Bahadur' served the country for around decades after its induction during the 1980s. Notably, it was in Jodhpur where MiG-27 started serving the IAF after its induction. MiG-27 was a dedicated ground attack aircraft and became the main strike aircraft of IAF. During the time of its induction, it had the most powerful single-engine in the world. The aircraft served seven operational squadrons and other combat training and tactics-evaluation establishments.

IAF's No.222 Squadron at Hasimara Air Base before its de-commission in 2017Credit:Twitter

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said, "These aircraft have made an immense contribution to the nation, both during peace and war. The fleet earned its glory in the historic Kargil conflict when it delivered rockets & bombs with accuracy on enemy positions. The fleet also took an active part in Op-Parakram." It further added, "The Squadron is now slated to be number plated on 31 March 2020 with 27 December 2019 being its last flying day thereby making the swing-wing fleet a part of IAF's glorious past."

Delivered a knockout punch during Kargil war

Although MiG-27 took part in different war exercises across the globe, it would be remembered for its role in the Kargil war of 1999. Loaded with sophisticated avionics and weapon computers, it played a significant role in the war by dropping bombs, rockets, precision munitions guided by TV/laser and also fired air-to-air missiles for self-defence.

MiG-27 of the IAF at Air force station, JodhpurCredit:Twitter, IAF official handle

Notably, the IAF has already decommissioned its older variant MiG-27 ML in December 2017 when the aircraft roared over Air force station Hashimara for the last time. State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured 165 of these aircraft and assessing the requirement for its upgrade, HAL also upgraded some of these aircraft to MiG-27 UPG with enhanced combat capability and extended service life. Now with the de-commissioning of MiG-27, the number of operating squadrons of the IAF stands at 28 which is two-third of what is required. Interestingly, the IAF requires at least 42 squadrons to fight the two-front war.  

MiG-27 of the Indian Air ForceCredit: Reuters

Swing Wing fighters

Swing wing is a simpler term used for a variable-sweep wing airplane wing that may be swept back and then returned to its original straight position during flight. The variable geometry wing or swing-wing allows the pilot to change the wing sweep angle while flying as per the mission requirements to achieve optimum flying characteristics. Multiple aircraft in the past have been manufactured with swing-wings including US-made Grumman F-14 Tomcat, Russian made Su-24 and MiG-27 and UK made Tornado F3.