MIG-21 to Rafale: Key additions to India's air prowess over the years

India on Wednesday received its first batch of new multirole combat fighter aircraft in nearly two decades with the arrival of five Rafale jets
From opting for the Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau-made MiG 21 in 1961 to receiving the first batch of five French-manufactured Rafale multi-role combat jets on Wednesday, India has come a long way in boosting its air-strike prowess.

Some of the key fighter jet acquisitions over the years and the combat capabilities they possess that made India's airmen a force to reckon with are:

Rafale jets:

India on Wednesday received its first batch of new multirole combat fighter aircraft in nearly two decades with the arrival of five Rafale jets, giving the country's air power a strategic edge.

The NDA government inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal in September 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system are the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.

The IAF is also procuring new generation medium-range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets.

SU-30 MKI:

Inducted in 2002, the Russian advanced fighter jets are the primary air-to-air and air-to-ground strike machines. It is a twin seater twin engine multirole fighter of Russian origin which carries One X 30mm GSH gun along with 8000 kg external armament.

It is capable of carrying a variety of medium-range guided air to air missiles with active or semi-active radar or Infra red homing close range missiles. It has a max speed of 2500 km/hr (Mach 2.35).

Mirage-2000:

The Mirage-2000, one of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) most versatile and deadliest aircraft, was first commissioned in 1985. The Mirage-2000 is developed by Dassault Aviation. It is a single seater air defence and multi-role fighter of French origin powered by a single engine.

It can attain max speed of 2495 km/hr(Mach 2.3). It carries two 30 mm integral cannons and two matra super 530D medium-range and two R-550 magic II close combat missiles on external stations.

An Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jet lands on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway during an IAF drill. Photo: PTI

MiG-27:

The Soviet-sourced ground-attack aircraft was designed by Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau and was manufactured by HAL under a license agreement. It is a single engine, single seater tactical strike fighter aircraft of Russian origin having a maximum speed of 1700 km/hr (Mach 1.6). It carries one 23 mm six-barrel rotary integral cannon and can carry upto 4,000 kg of other armament externally.

An MiG-27 aircraft prepares for a sortie at the Air Force Station, Jodhpur. PTI

MiG-29:

Another Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau produced MiG was introduced in the 1970s to counter US' F-Series planes like F-15 and F-16. It was commissioned in IAF in 1985. The MiG29 forms the second line of defence after the Sukhoi Su-30MKI.

It is a twin engine, single seater air superiority fighter aircraft which is capable of attaining maximum speed of 2,445 km per hour (Mach-2.3). It has a combat ceiling of 17 km. It carries a 30 mm cannon alongwith four R-60 close combat and two R-27 R medium range radar guided missiles.

Jaguar:

The SEPECAT Jaguar is a fighter jet developed together by British Royal Air Force and French Air Force. It is a twin-engine, single seater deep penetration strike aircraft of Anglo-French origin which has a maximum speed of 1350 km /hr (Mach 1.3). It has two 30mm guns and can carry two R-350 Magic CCMs (overwing) alongwith 4750 kg of external stores (bombs/fuel).

Source: Wikimedia commons

MiG-21 Bison:

In 1961, the IAF opted for the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau-made MIG 21. The single engine, single seater multirole fighter/ground attack aircraft of Russian origin forms the back-bone of the IAF. It has a max speed of 2230 km/hr (Mach 2.1) and carries one 23mm twin barrel cannon with four R-60 close combat missiles.



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