India Deploys Upgraded MiG-29 Fighter Jets Squadron at Srinagar to Tackle Threats From Pakistan, China

110


India on 12 August has deployed MiG-29 fighter aircraft in Srinagar replacing the MiG-21 fighter jets at the base to tackle threats from both the Pakistani and Chinese front, news agency ANI has stated 

The Tridents squadron, also known as the ‘Defender of the North’ has replaced the MiG-21 squadron at the Srinagar air base which has traditionally been responsible for taking care of the threat from border nations.

The MiG-29s were moved to the Srinagar air base in January this year and have flown extensively in the Kashmir valley along with the Ladakh sector where they would be one of the first to respond in case of any air space violation attempts by the Chinese.

The MiG-29s were also the 1st aircraft to have been deployed in the Ladakh sector for tacking the threat from the Chinese side after the Galwan clash of 2020 and have thwarted multiple such attempts since then.

While speaking to news agency ANI, Indian Air Force pilot Squadron Leader Vipul Sharma, said, “Srinagar lies in the centre of Kashmir valley and its elevation is higher than plains. It is strategically better to place an aircraft with a higher weight-to-thrust ratio and less response time due to proximity to the border and is equipped with better avionics and long-range missiles. The MiG-29 fulfils all these criteria due to which we are capable of taking in the enemies on both fronts.”

Another pilot Squadron Leader Shivam Rana said the upgraded aircraft can operate at night with night vision goggles and has a longer range due to air-to-air refuelling capability. “We have also included the air-to-ground armament which was not there earlier. The biggest capability of the aircraft are the pilots which are handpicked by the Indian Air Force to serve on these aircraft,” he added.

MiG-29 vs MiG-21

-The MiG 29s have multiple advantages over the MiG-21s which were able to successfully defend the area of their responsibility in the Kashmir valley for many years and also managed to strike down an F-16 in 2019 post Balakot air strikes on Pakistani terrorist camps on their mainland.

-The MiG-29 has been equipped with very long-range air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground weaponry after the upgrades.

-The upgraded MiG-29 aircraft can operate at night with night vision goggles and has a longer range due to air-to-air refuelling capability.

-It has also been armed with lethal weaponry making use of the emergency procurement powers given to armed forces by the government.

-Earlier in May, Indian Air Force (IAF) had grounded the entire fleet of MiG-21 fighter aircraft till the checks were carried out and investigations into the reasons behind the crash over Rajasthan where three people lost their lives in the crash when a MiG-21 Bison aircraft airborne from the Suratgarh air base crashed over Hanumangarh in a village on May 8.

-Later in July, it was also reported that India will ground all its Soviet-era Russian fighter jets, the MiG-21, by 2025.

-In the last 20 months, 6 MiG-21s have been lost in crashes in which five pilots have lost their lives. Once formed the backbone of the IAF fleet, the MiG-21 is a Soviet-era single-engine multirole fighter/ground attack aircraft.

Source: Live Mint