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'Bahadur' MiG-27 Takes to Skies One Last Time: Here's What Happens to Decommissioned Fighter Jets

After decommissioning, the avionics, communication devices, radars and other critical equipment are removed from the fighter jets and the airframe is given away to schools, colleges, aerospace museum and municipalities.

Shreya Dhoundial | CNN-News18

Updated:December 27, 2019, 4:57 PM IST
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'Bahadur' MiG-27 Takes to Skies One Last Time: Here's What Happens to Decommissioned Fighter Jets
File photo of an MIG-27 fighter aircraft . (Image: Twitter)

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) fighter aircraft MiG-27, the “ace attacker” during the 1999 Kargil war, took to the skies for the last time on Friday. The squadron of seven MIG-27s had its last sorties from Jodhpur Air Base after having served the IAF for four decades. The fighter jets had played a lethal role during the Kargil War, earning it the moniker 'Bahadur' (or brave).

Now that the MIG-27 has “retired”, where does it go? Where do decommissioned fighter jets end up? Unlike naval warships, air force fighters don't end up in the scrap-yard.

After decommissioning, the avionics, communication devices, radars and other critical equipment are removed from the fighter jets and the airframe is given away to schools, colleges, aerospace museums and municipalities.

The Air Headquarter gets hundreds of requests for old planes each year. These are processed by the IAF and only once they are satisfied that the institution is capable of maintaining the glory of the plane is it given away.

There are more than 550 retired aircraft of various vintage scattered across the country. You can spot a MIG-23 outside the Delhi Airport, a GNAT on the lawns of the Raj Bhavan in Aizawl, a MIG-23 BN at Aligarh Muslim University, and a MIG-21 M at St Joseph's College in Allahabad.

A large number of old fighters are used by the IAF for its own training at institutions across the country. The planes that end up here retain their avionics and equipment.

But the really lucky fighters get a service extension as decoys during times of war. Some of the MIG-27 fighters that were decommissioned on Friday will be used as decoys across air bases in the Western Air Command.

It is also a tradition to present the decommissioned aircraft to allied countries. In 2014, the IAF gifted a Vintage Dakota aircraft to the Bangladesh Air Force on their request. The Dakota had played a crucial role in the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

In the United States, most commercial and military aircraft end up in Arizona, California and New Mexico as their dry desert conditions prevent the retirees from rusting.

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