Indian Air Force (IAF) decommissions Mikoyan-Gurevich 27 (MiG-27), the fighter aircraft that played a stellar role during the Kargil war with Pakistan 20 years ago, on Friday when the last squadron of seven planes roared through the skies for the last time.
The fighter aircraft took to the skies one last time at the Jodhpur airbase where the only IAF squadron that operates the MiG-27 is based.
The MiG-27, code-named 'Bahadur' in India, has had an impeccable track record in its more than three decades of glorious service to the nation.
"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," the Ministry of Defence said.
The upgraded MiG-27, because of its survivability, has also participated in numerous national and international exercises.
The formidable strike aircraft of Russian origin has the single most powerful engine in the world and variable geometry wing which allows the pilot to change the wing sweep angle while flying as per the mission requirements to achieve optimum flying characteristics.
The Number 29 Squadron is the only unit in the IAF operating the MiG-27 upgrades, the Defence Minister said. The squadron was raised on March 10, 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 2019 being its last flying day thereby making the swing wing fleet a part of IAF's glorious past," MoD said.
"Veteran air warriors along with serving air warriors are taking part in the ceremony. Air Marshal SK Ghotia VSM, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief South Western Air Command are presiding over the wind-down ceremony," the defence ministry said.
This swing-wing fighter bomber was inducted into the IAF fleet in the late 1980s. Being a dedicated ground-attack aircraft, it was one of the main strike aircraft of the IAF.
"With its sophisticated avionics and weapon computers, it is capable of delivering a variety of loads in different modes of attack with immense precision," the ministry said.
The pilots proudly call themselves 'Swing Wingers' and have always vouched for the aircraft's precise weapon delivery and rapid acceleration.
"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.