The Indian Air Force (IAF) bade farewell to MiG-27 ML, codenamed 'Bahadur' in India, as it oared over Hasimara Air Force base in Bengal on Thursday for the last time.
The Mikoyan MiG-27 is a variable-geometry ground-attack aircraft, originally built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union and later license-produced in India by Hindustan Aeronautics as the Bahadur.
MiG-27 has had an impeccable track record in its more than three decades of glorious service to the nation, a PTI report quoted a Defence spokesperson as saying.
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.
MiG-27 ML had proved its worth in various operations, including in Kargil and earned rich accolades in numerous international exercises held in India.
Some issues with this aircraft had made headlines, especially after the Kargil conflict. There were several crashes which were later attributed to certain defects in the R 29 engines of the aircraft.
Notable crashes of MiG-27 ML 'Bahadur':
- On May 27, 1999, during the Kargil War, one Indian MiG-27 was lost together with a MiG-21 while supporting an Indian ground offensive in the Kashmir region.
- Since 2001, the Indian Air Force has lost more than 12 MiG-27s to crashes.
- In mid-February 2010, India grounded its entire fleet of over 150 of the aircraft after a MiG-27 crashed on 16 February 2010 in Siliguri, West Bengal. The crash was attributed to defects in the R 29 engines of the aircraft, suspected to have occurred during the overhauling of the aircraft by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- Another Mig-27 crashed in the Barmer area on January 27, 2015.
- On June 13, 2016, a MiG-27 (TU 657) on a training mission crashed in a residential area near Jodhpur Airforce Base in Rajasthan damaging two houses and injuring three civilians while the pilots ejected safely. The aircraft appears to be an Indian upgraded variant of MiG-27.