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MiG-23 Rakshak / Vijay

MiG-23 MF, NATO codenamed Flogger-B and also known by her Indian nomenclature - Rakshak [Defender or Protector], is a swing-wing interceptor capable of delivering an array of missiles, bombs and guided weapons. The MiG 23 aircraft was inducted in Indian Air Force in the year 1980. The MiG-23 MF was one of the first IAF fighters to be equipped with R-23 R and R-23T BVR (Beyond Visual Range) Air-to-Air missiles. It can also carry 96 Rockets or 1.5 tonnes of bombs of 100, 250 or 500 Kg calibers. The fighter aircraft has a top speed of 2.35 Mach i.e. approximately 2,500 Kmph.

The last two MiG-23 squadrons, purchased three decades earlier, were inactivated in 2006, a year before their planned retirement as part of an accelerated phase-out of old aircraft with unreliable engines. The swing-wing supersonic aircraft, MiG 23, is possibly one of the most effective weapons in the Air Force inventory.This variant, many assert, is perhaps one of the most powerful single-engine fighter aircraft in the world. DRDO developed a number of EW systems with considerable success. These include Ajanta, Coin, Vikram and Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) for MiG-23 and MiG-27 aircraft, which have been delivered to the Services.

Air Force Station, Ojhar witnessed the passing-out of its 200th overhauled MiG 23 aircraft in July 2001 in the presence of Air Marshal KS Chaturvedi AOC-in-C, Maintenance Command. Air Marshal KS Chaturvedi handed over the aircraft to Wg Cdr DV Khot, Commanding Officer, 221 Squadron. This depot was designated as the overhaul agency for all variants of MiG 23. Since commencement of MiG 23 overhaul line in 1987, the depot had been achieving its production tasks regularly.

The brake parachute is used on MiG-23 aircrafts as a brake in addition to the main mechanical brakes during emergency landing or on short wet runway. This brake parachute system ensures required reduction of landing run at speed not exceeding 250 kmph when system is released. Recommended aircraft speed at which the parachute should be jettisoned at the end of decelerating run - 30 knots.

By 2003 a gradual phasing out of the MiG-23 was fleet is being carried out keeping in view factors like technical and calendar life, maintainability and replacement. In some years the accident rate of Mig-23 aircraft has been the highest in the IAF fleet. In some years the accident rate of MiG-23 aircraft had been higher than MiG-21 aircraft.

One MiG-23 (Trainer) aircraft of Indian Air Force crashed near Air Force Station Hashimara on 17 Nov 2008. The aircraft had got airborne from Hashimara air base and was on a routine training-flying mission. The pilots ejected safely. There is no reported damage to civil property and no individual was injured or killed as a result of air crash. An inquiry has been ordered to investigate the reasons for the accident.

The MiG-23BN aircraft of Indian Air Force retired 06 March 2009 after 28 years of glorious service. A befitting farewell in the form of a 'phasing out ceremony' to the MiG-23 BN aircraft, which were bought from the erstwhile Soviet Union to counter Pakistan's then newly acquired F-16 jets, was held at its last home, at Air Force Station Halwara. The ceremony was presided over by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major. Wg Cdr YJ Joshi and Sqn Ldr TR Sahu of 221 Sqn flew the aircraft on its last flight. The Air Force Station Halwara had become home to No.221 Squadron ever since they converted to MiG-23 BN in February 1982. 27 years on, No.221 Squadron is lone Squadron with MiG-23 BN on its inventory.



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