IAF bids farewell to MiG-27, fighter jet takes final sortie in Jodhpur

An MiG-27 aircraft prepares for a sortie during the de-induction ceremony of MiG-27 aircrafts at the Air Force Station, Jodhpur. PTI

It was an emotional moment for the airmen of the Indian Air Force as the iconic MiG-27, which played an important role during the 1999 Kargil war, roared through the skies for the last time on Friday after serving the force for over three decades.

The swing-wing fighter had been the backbone of ground-attack fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and was decommissioned at a grand ceremony held at the Jodhpur Air Base.

The base had the last fleet of seven MiG-27 attached to Squadron No 29, also known as the 'Scorpions', which had its last sortie on Friday.

The IAF also tweeted poetic lines as it bid adieu to its squadron.

"#AdieuMiG27 Her targets met. Her promises kept. And all her duties done,

On she goes. All haloed and pretty. Into the setting sun. Indian Air Force salutes the mighty MiG 27 for its yeoman service to the Nation," it tweeted.

Air Marshal S K Ghotia, the air officer commanding-in-chief, South Western Air Command, presided over the wind-down ceremony at the base.

"It is not a happy moment that one of our potent aircraft MiG-27 was being phased out today," he said, adding that this jet had been at the frontline of the IAF fleet since 1985 and proved its worth in Kargil conflict.

IAF spokesperson Anupam Banerjee, who has phenomenal hours of flying experience of this legendry aircraft, described the moment as very emotional and tear-eyed.

The last fleet of the MiG-27 was escort-landed by the Sukhoi Su-30, followed by the traditional water cannon salute, officials said.

To mark this historic occasion, a team of Surya Kiran aircraft put on an air show with an acrobatic display in various formations.

"The upgraded variant of this last swing-wing fleet has been the pride of IAF strike fleet since 2006. All other variants, such as MiG-23 BN and MiG-23 MF and the pure MiG-27 have already retired from IAF," the defence ministry said on Thursday.

"The fleet earned its glory in the historic Kargil conflict when it delivered rockets and bombs with accuracy on enemy positions. The fleet also took active part in Operation Parakram," the ministry said.

The upgraded version of MiG-27, because of its survivability, has participated in numerous national and international exercises.

The Squadron was raised on March 10, 1958, at the Air Force Station Halwara with Ouragan (Toofani) aircraft.

"Over the years, the Squadron has been equipped with numerous types of fighters such as MiG-21 Type 77, MiG-21 Type 96, MiG-27 ML and MiG-27 upgrade," the ministry said.

The Squadron is now slated to be number plated on March 31, 2020.

The aircraft, for their role during the 1999 Kargil War, earned the moniker 'Bahadur' from IAF pilots.

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