World’s last mig-23 bn finally grounded


Staff member

Halwara March 7:

At 10.35 today morning, the world’s last MiG 23 BN was switched off by its pilot, Wing Commander Yogesh Joshi, who, after alighting from the plane, handed over the plane’s log book and pilot’s note to his Chief.

A befitting farewell in the form of a phasing-out ceremony was accorded to the 221 Squadron at this Air Force station. The MiG 23 BN were bid adios after 28 years of glorious service rendered to the Indian Air Force. The ceremony was presided over by Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, who termed this moment as, “Having witnessed this solemn ceremony where we formally retire one of our very formidable assets, one is overwhelmed by an indescribable feeling and pride tinged with sadness.”

The Air Force station, Halwara, has been home to the 221 Squadron since 1982 and the lone squadron with the MiG-23 BN on its inventory. It is from here that the MIG -23 BN have participated in Operation Safed Sagar launched in 1999 after IAF reconnaissance Canberra was hit by a stinger shoulder-fired missile. During the Kargil war, these planes were used to recapture Tiger Hill from invaders. Having flown more than 1,54,000 hours in the IAF, the MiG-23 BN remained a formidable weapon platform till its last flight.

The phasing-out ceremony held today displayed the glory of this plane, known for its most powerful single-engine fighter with a revolutionary design with a variable swing sweep and air intake and a very complex weapon delivery system that was fairly advanced for its times. As the Air Chief Marshal put it, “These planes gave the IAF a tremendous boost in its capability and we had to get used to the tremendous roar of its R-29 engine. They also played havoc with the surfaces of our runways.” At today’s show, while the pilots displayed a majestic flying formation, the plane’s ability to fly as low as 150 metres from the ground had the audience clapping for the plane.

Interacting with the media after the ceremony, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major remarked, “We are always prepared for any kind of challenge.” The Air Chief was replying to a query on preparedness of the IAF in present times. When asked which planes will be replacing the MiGs, the Chief said, “We are considering planes like SU-30 MKI, but the final decision is yet to be taken.” When asked about how the IAF plans to plug the gap before the new planes are inducted, the Chief said, “We have 34 squadrons and it is not about the quantity of planes, but the combative edge that we have.”