New Delhi, December 11, 2013
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, during the phase out ceremony of Mig-21 FL at Air Force Station Kalaikunda on December 11, 2013.
Three MiG-27 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) performed the Trishul Break Manoeuvre as a salute to the MiG-21 Type 77 aircraft that was towed out and into the hangar for the last time at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal today.
With this, the Kalaikunda based Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) bid a final farewell to its oldest workhorse.
Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, Chief of the Air Staff, who was present on the occasion of phasing out MiG 21, Type -77, said the event marked a watershed moment in the history of the IAF, with the end of nearly five decades of remarkable service rendered by the iconic fighter aircraft.
"The induction of first batch of six MiG-21s way back in March-April 1963 heralded the arrival of IAF in the 's upersonic era’. Its unprecedented combat versatility afforded the IAF great amount of operational flexibility. Over the years, this delta wing marvel slowly evolved into the combat backbone of the IAF and close to 1000 fighters (which include all variants) have served in the IAF till date. In 1980-90s, the MiG-21s constituted nearly 60% of our combat fleet strength," he said.
Air Chief Marshal Browne said it was no wonder, therefore, that five generations of the IAF's combat pilots, including himself, who had cut their teeth on this fighter, swore by its unmatched prowess.
"As a matter of fact around 80% of the presently serving fighter aircrew in the IAF have flown the T-77 aircraft and 90% have flown one of the MiG variants at some time or the other in their flying career," he said.
He said the T-77 fleet had been flying on an average around 9000 hours per year.
"Today, while we operate the Su 30s and are looking forward to inducting the Rafale MMRCA, MiG-21 fighters (all variants) continue to proudly contribute to the IAF’s operational strength," he said.
"I salute your spirit of service and of countless other air warriors who brave daily challenges of operating and maintaining this fighter in the highest operational conditions in our various stations across the Air Force," he told the IAF personnel present.
"The T-77 may have flown its last sortie today, but its imprint on the ‘Operational DNA’ of the IAF will continue for a long time. Gradually the other variants of the MiG-21 would also retire from service with Bison continuing for more than a decade or so.
"We are indeed proud of the five decades of professional association with MiG-21 and are grateful for its invaluable contribution to the IAF over the years. I am sure that from this day onwards the MiG-21 T-77 will proudly go down in history as one of the finest combat aircraft which has served the IAF over the years," he added.
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