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MiG-27 Bahadur

The MIG-27 and Jaguar aircraft are designed to strike at the enemy with speed and precision. They are designed to carry heavy armament load to the tune of six tons and fly over long distances. Flown by a single pilot they have accurate navigation and weapon delivery systems. The MiG-27ML fighter bomber manufactured in 1982 became an export version of the MiG-27M. The aircraft was developed upon the Indian order.

This swing wing fighter of Russian origin was inducted into the IAF in the late 1980's. This dedicated ground attack aircraft has been one of the main strike aircraft of the IAF. With its sophisticated avionics and weapon computers, it is capable of delivering a variety of loads in different modes of attack. A very stable weapons platform with good forward visibility and all around view, it can carry precision munitions guided by TV/laser and also A4Ms for self defence.

Nowadays, it is manufactured at the Nasik Division of HAL and is dubbed "Bahadur" (Brave). A small batch of 10 MiG-27MLs and the prefabricated parts for India (over 80 sets) were also manufactured in Irkutsk. On January 11, 1986 the first Indian MiG-27 was completed using the Irkutsk parts, and in 1988, the Indian-made "Bahadur" aircraft production started.

The MiG-23 met the requirement for a Tactical Air Strike Aircraft (TASA). With the various development programs to enhance the operational performance of the HF-24 Marut by HAL abandoned for one reason or the other, the Government of India concluded an agreement with the Soviet Union for the MiG-23 variable-sweep fighter. Four squadrons, then flying the HF-24 and Sukhoi Su-7 were re-equipped with the MiG-23BN and induction into IAF service of this swing-wing fighter. Nos. 10 and 220 Squadrons were shortly operational on the new type and Nos. 31 and 221 followed to add a considerable measure of potency to the offensive air support formations of the IAF.

The dedicated strike derivative, selected for licence production by HAL, was the MiG-27M which shared the overall configuration of the MiG-23BN but was optimised for low-level, high-speed performance. The last Sukhoi Su-7 Squadron (No.222) became the first MiG-27M unit and the Ajeet light fighter squadrons were gradually re-equipped with the MiG-27ML, No.9 being followed by Nos.18,22 and lately, No.2.

MiG-27 contributed to 10% of all fatal air crashes from April 1996 to May 2001. This could be because of the role assigned to MiG-27, which is basically a ground attack aircraft.

By 2003 overhaul facilities for MiG-23, MiG-27 and MiG-29 have been set up in India, but not for MiG-25. MiG-23 and MiG-29 aircraft are being overhauled at 11 Base Repair Depot, Nasik since 1988 and 1997 respectively. For MiG-25 aircraft overhaul facilities have not been set up in India as their inventory is very low. Hence, setting up overhaul facilities is uneconomical. For MiG-27 aircraft, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has established overhaul facilities. As estimated by Air Headquarters and HAL foreign exchange to the tune of Rs. 986.84 crore had been saved by overhauling these aircraft in India.

The MiG-27's completed a two-year long avionics upgrade in 2004 conducted by a Bangalore-based unit of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and carried out onsite at HAL's Nasik facility. It was originally believed that the Russians or the Israelis would win the contract. However, indigenous projects tend to be cheaper because countries are not dependent on foreign suppliers and therefore not on a weak footing during price negotiations.

The upgrade of the 120 Soviet-origin MiG-27 fighter bomber aircraft, which began in 2002, was successfully completed in 2009, giving the aircraft better navigational technology and a pilot friendly cockpit. The project was initiated in the year 2002 through a tripartite memorandum of understanding between Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) under the aegis of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) Nasik and the Indian Air Force. The upgraded MiG-27 aircraft is equipped with Inertial Navigation and Global Positioning System (INGPS) providing accurate navigation. Advanced avionics on the aircraft has been interfaced on MIL-STD-1553B Dual Redundant Bus. To enable weapon aiming, accurate ranging sensors such as Laser Designator Pod (LDP) and Laser Ranger and Marked Target Seeker (LRMTS) are integrated. A digital map generator has been integrated to improve situational awareness. The digital video recording system provides mission analysis and debrief support.

A formidable strike aircraft, MiG-27 ML had an impeccable track record in its more than three decades of glorious service to the nation. Time and again she has proved her worth in various operations including Kargil and earned rich accoladesin numerous international exercises held in India. Though the last MLs retire, they are not the last swing wing aircraft in service as few of them got a midlife avionics upgrade and continue to serve the nation. They are called MiG-27 UPG and were based in Jodhpur.

December 28, 2017 witnessed the last MiG-27 ML aircraft roar over Hasimara Air Force base as the Indian Air Force bid adieu to this legacy fleet in a function to mark the last flying. As of 2017 a total of 10 Squadrons of Indian Air Force (IAF) equipped with MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft were scheduled to retire by 2024 on completion of their Total Technical Life.

The Indian Air Force's last remaining squadron of upgraded MiG-27UPGs will make its final flight from Jodhpur Air Base in Rajasthan, northwestern India, in late December, IndiaToday reported. The planes, belonging to 29 Scorpio Squadron, would make their last flight at an official ceremony on 27 December 2019.

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Page last modified: 07-11-2019 18:56:05 ZULU