MiG-29s and all MiG-21 fighter jets will be grounded by 2027: Report

According to Press Trust of India, the Indian Air Force also intends to begin the phase-out of its three squadrons of MiG-29 fighter jets during the next five years (2027).


One of the final four MiG-21 fighter squadrons is scheduled to withdraw from duty in September, according to persons familiar with the development. The Indian Air Force, or IAF, has established a three-year timeframe to phase out the remaining four squadrons.

According to Press Trust of India, the Indian Air Force also intends to begin the phase-out of its three squadrons of MiG-29 fighter jets during the next five years (2027).

At the same time, they emphasised that the plan was unrelated to the most recent MiG-21 crash, which occurred in Rajasthan’s Barmer on Thursday night, and was instead part of the IAF’s modernization drive.


The two jet’s pilots, Wing Commander M. Rana and Flight Lieutenant Advitiya Bal, perished in the accident, which once more brought attention to the fleet’s ageing equipment.

According to those acquainted with the situation, all four MiG-21 squadrons are expected to be retired by 2025.

On September 30, the No. 51 squadron, headquartered in Srinagar, will receive a number plate. A squadron’s number plate marks the retirement of that squadron, which typically consists of 17–20 aircraft.

The squadron, sometimes referred to as “Swordarms,” participated in “Effort Safed Sagar” during the Kargil conflict in 1999 and in the operation to thwart Pakistan’s retaliatory attack on February 27, 2019, a day after India’s airstrike in the neighbouring country’s Balakot.

In the course of the aerial battle, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, a member of the No. 51 Squadron, shot down an adversarial aircraft. Later, he received the Vir Chakra award from the previous president, Ram Nath Kovind.

Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman has been promoted.

The IAF now has 50 MiG-29 versions and about 70 MiG-21 aircraft.

“We are also planning to retire the MiG-29 fleet and the process will start in next five years,” an official said.

The IAF relied heavily on MiG-21s for a very long time. The plane, however, has recently had an extremely bad safety record.

In 1963, the IAF received its first fleet of the MiG version, and over the ensuing decades, India acquired approximately 700 MiG-variants.

The Defence ministry signed a 48,000 crore agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in February of last year for the purchase of 83 Tejas fighter aircraft to assist the IAF in replacing its ageing fighter fleet. Additionally, the IAF is currently purchasing 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA).

Despite all the anticipated acquisitions, a senior official stated that the IAF will not be able to attain the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons in the upcoming 10-15 years because a sizable number of aircraft are being phased out.

In order to considerably improve its air power capacity, India is also engaged in an ambitious USD 5 billion project to create a fifth-generation medium-weight deep penetration fighter jet.

42 defence personnel were died in incidents involving aeroplanes and helicopters of the three services in the previous five years, stated Ajay Bhat, Minister of State for Defence, in March when speaking in the Rajya Sabha. In the past five years, there have been 45 air mishaps, of which 29 involved IAF platforms.