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MiG-21 Bison, Sukhoi Su-30MKI to Rafale: Key Additions That Underline IAF's Air Prowess

A Rafale jet at Ambala Air Force station. (Image credit: ANI Twitter)

A Rafale jet at Ambala Air Force station. (Image credit: ANI Twitter)

From buying the MIG-21 Bison way back in 1961 to finally getting the multirole combat fighter Rafale in 2020, the Indian Air Force has become a force to reckon with.

  • PTI New Delhi
  • Last Updated: August 2, 2020, 9:46 AM IST
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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 ₹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 Infrared 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 single-seater air defence and multi-role fighter of French origin powered by a single-engine.

It can attain a 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.

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 up to 4,000 kg of another armament externally.

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 a 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 along with 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) along with 4750 kg of external stores (bombs/fuel).

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 backbone 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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