Two years ago MiG-27 pilot Anshuman Mainkar gave us a thrilling interview about flying this Soviet hot-rod. With the news that the type has now retired from IAF service we asked Mainkur to reflect on this significant event.
The MiG-27 has now retired from the IAF, how does that feel for you?
“Not only has the MiG-27 retired, but also the #Flogger saga in the IAF has drawn to a close. Inducted during the early 1980s, during a modernisation cycle that also included other platforms, these variants served with many units, delivering sterling service to the nation.
State of the art for their times in terms of BVR capability (even when the relative nascency of the MF is considered compared to the later MLD, et al variants) and nav/attack suite for the BN/ML (including the unique laser range-finder/designator), the aircraft in spite of legacy (under refinement since the early 60s, and giving way to next-gen platforms of the age – Su-27/MiG-29, et al) were taken through the paces well by pioneers who studied the package well and designed SOPs that became the gold standard for operations specifically suited to the IAF.
With this in context, I feel extremely privileged to have flown a remarkable platform, and having learnt from a great set of mentors and tutors who taught me the nuances of flying but also of life. And while it is with a tinge of sadness that I enjoyed the festivities of the winding down ceremony, I am happy that the culture, bonding and associations with the machines and the men and women who cared and nurtured it in the IAF will remain with me for eternity.
Speaking of the MiG 27 in particular, it was the last of the variants to be inducted and de-inducted, and it played.”
What was the aircraft’s greatest moments in IAF service?
“They were ample moments – technology/weapon integration, firing competitions, operations, etc. A few that people will relate to would definitely include its involvement in Kargil, when it (along with the BN), were tasked heavily, performing admirably given the nature of terrain and targets.
It must be mentioned that the pioneers had envisaged much in advance the requirement of a Kargil-like deployment/employment, and therefore the fleet was well-equipped and trained for the hostilities that were thrust upon them. That they were ready, raring and prepared was a product of the fleet stalwart vision and initiative.”
Now the aircraft has retired can you share anything you could not have shared before?
“A popular pilot quip was a wish to begin the syllabus on the fighter first – (even without dual trips, a testimony to the comfort and aesthetic of the jet), and then convert on to the trainer (which in many terms was a different aircraft).”
How many active ’27 pilots were there at the point of retirement – what will they do now?
“A squadron worth, plus a few more – not current, but in various staff/piloting appointments across the Air Force. There isn’t a fleet for them to come back to, but they sure are a valuable asset for the Air Force. I’m sure they’ll get their due, and the Air Force will find them worthy appointments/responsibilities to pursue.”
How did it compare to the Jaguar?
“As far as mud-sweepers go, the Jaguar took its role too seriously. It hesitated to take off, and as a popular saying goes, it only took off because of the Earth’s curvature. But that was on a lighter note, the Flogger fleet and Jaguar boys sure loved a good roast!
During it’s heyday, the MiG-27 avionics suite – autopilot/nav/attack/recovery systems were truly fantastic, better than the initial Jaguars. The Jaguar has matured well in Indian service, though. Being the only dedicated striker in IAF service, it has done well for itself, and its bag of tricks will stand it in good stead for some time to come.”
What will happen to the airframes? What would you like to happen?
“Gate guardians, mostly, adorning prominent locations across many cities, including its own bases. Ideal candidate too, takes up less space with max sweep :)”
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