Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack

Tupolev “Heaviest bomber” – Blackjack

The Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack is heaviest and most powerful combat bomber aircraft of all time. This strategic bomber was built to a programme which began in 1967 when DA (long- range aviation) Gen-Col Reshetnikov studied the Sukhoi T-4MS (so-called ‘200’) and Myasishchev M- 20. VVS chief Kutakhov assigned Sukhoi smaller aircraft, but the excel­lence of the M-20 led to its adoption, after modification as the M-18, with a horizontal tail instead of a canard. With so big a project CAHI’s top men, Byushgens and Svishchyev, led the aerodynamic backing. It was finally decided only Tupolev was big enough to tackle the job. […]

Vietnamese MiG-21

Vietnamese MiG-21 – The creation of an Air Force Research Committee on 9th March 1949 laid the foundations of the Khöng Quart Nhan Dan Viet Nam (Vietnamese People’s Army Air Force, VPAF). Its first unit, 919 Transport Regiment was created on 9th May 1949, and in 1963 the VPAF was merged with the Air Defence Forces to become Phong Khong – Khöng Quan Nhan Dan Viet Nam (Combined Air Force and Air Defence Force). The initial fighter regiment (Trung doan, FR) was created on 3rd February 1964 as 921 FR ‘Sao Do’ having flown from China where its personnel had been in training with their MiG-17s. A second fighter regiment, 923 FR ‘Yen The’, was formed on 7th September 1964. […]


A surprising number of MiG-21 s of various types were presented to the USAF, no doubt in the hope, if not expectation of favours in return. Many of MiG-21 USAF never actually operated in the USA but were broken down and examined in minute detail. The USAF put a thick veil of secrecy over the proceedings and has not officially released any information on tests carried out after 1969.

In the 1960s about a dozen MiG-21 F-13 (izdeliye 74) fighters were presented to the USAF. The details are a closely guarded secret but it is well known from non-US sources that six Algerian Air Force MiG-21 F-13 fighters landed in error at an airfield recently seized by the Israeli army in the Six-Day War while en route to join the Egyptian Air Force; they were vectored to land there by air traffic controllers, who had not been kept up to date with the Israeli advance. Four of these aircraft found their way to the USA. […]

Syrian MiG-21

The Syrian Arab Air Force was established in the early 1950s and its first Syrian MiG-21 F-13 (izdeliye 74) fighters arrived around 1962-63. Between 1958 and 1961 Syria was, with Egypt, a constituent of the United Arab Republic (UAR) but their ways were now diverging, leaving as their only common cause a shared enmity with Israel. The first of 40 or 45 MiG-21 F-13s was delivered to Syria in 1965 and they were to equip three squadrons – Nos 8, 10 and 11. Serials starting with 1301 were applied. Even before the start of the Six-Day War six MiG-21 F-13s were lost (presumably mostly this type) on 7th April 1967 in a clash with Israeli Mirage III CJs over the Golan Heights. The Six-Day War followed a pre­emptive Israeli air strike on 5th June 1967. […]

Romanian MiG-21

Delivery of MiG-21 PF (izdeliye 76) began in 1965. The Romanian AF gave the Romanian MiG-21 PF the local designation MIG-21 RFM (radar fortaj modernizat, radar/afterburner/mod­ernised) and on arrival equipped 86 RdeV at Borcea-Feteeti and 91 RdeV at Deveselu. The survivors were finally withdrawn from service and grounded in the early 1990s and all put into storage by 1999.

First deliveries of the MiG-21 PFM (izdeliye 94A) arrived in Romania in 1966, subsequently a total of 29 were in service before they were joined by 23 MiG-21 PFM (izdeliye 94N), each of which was capable of carrying a tactical nuclear bomb. […]

Polish MiG-21

Polish MiG- 21 s carried red serials, the first one or two digits indicating the production batch number and the final two the number of the aircraft in the batch. As can be seen from the serials, the fighters delivered to Poland were from the 12th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd production batches at Gor’kiy and from the 8th at Moscow. The first nine MiG-21 F-13s delivered went directly to the training facility at Modlin (CSL – Centrum Szkolenia Lotniczego), followed on 11 th January 1963 by the despatch of four to 62 PLM (Puk Lotnictwa Mysliwskiego – Fighter Regiment) at Poznari-Krzesiny, six to 1 PLM ‘Warszawa’ (Warsaw) at Mirisk-Mazowiecki near Warsaw on 14th January 1963 and the final six on 18th January 1963 to 11 PLM (later redesignated 9 PLM) at Dobrzno. […]

Israel MiG-21

Israel MiG-21 – Undoubtedly a number of MiG-21s of several different subtypes fell into Israeli hands in the series of wars with Egypt, Syria and Iraq in the 1960s and l970s.The most famous is the MiG-21 F-13 serialled 007. There were actually two different aircraft so serialled: the first was the aforementioned Iraqi Air Force ‘534’ surrendered to the Israelis by Captain Munir Redfa, who defected on 16th August 1966, landing at Hatzor AB. The fighter was thoroughly tested by the Israeli Defence Force/Air Force (IDF/AF, or Heyl Ha’Avir) before being shipped over to America […]

Iraq MiG-21

The first Iraq MiG-21 F-13 (izdeliye 74) arrived in Iraq in 1963 and ultimately 35 were delivered; known serials are in the range 519-538. The most famous of these was 534 flown by Captain Munir Redfa who defected on 16th August 1966 from el Arish airbase, Egypt, to Hatzor, Israel. It was reserialled 007 by its new owners, who shipped it to the USA. Another aircraft carrying the serial 007 replaced it in the Israeli Air Force Museum.

Survivors were withdrawn from service around 1988. […]

Iran MiG-21

The Iran MiG-21 – The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) was formed from the Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that ousted Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. During and after the war with Iraq, which raged from September 1980 to August 1988, Iran tried to rebuild its stock of aircraft and in 1989 purchased 12 MiG-21 PFs and a number of MiG-21 UMs from East Germany but the aircraft were impounded at the repair plant in Dresden and none were delivered. (Some sources suggest 2 arrived in Iran but this is doubtful.) Photos exist of a MiG-21 PF and a MiG-21 UM wearing green/tan desert camouflage but no insignia whatsoever. […]

Indian MiG-21

The Indian MiG-21 was the first combat aircraft of non-Western origin in the IAF (Indian Air Force) inventory and its choice marked a watershed in the procurement of aircraft for the IAF. An agreement concluded in August 1962 provided for the Indian purchase of twelve MiG-21 s and Soviet technical assis­tance in establishing licence production of the type in India. A group of eight IAF pilots arrived at Frunze, the capital of the Kyrghyz SSR (now Bishkek), on 9th October 1962 to take a three- month conversion training course at the nearby Loogovaya AB, transitioning to the MiG-21 via theUTI MiG-15 and MiG-17. […]

Hungarian MiG-21

The Hungarian MiG-21 – Hungary was the first Warsaw Pact country to receive the new MiG-21F-13. The HuAF had an establishment of three fighter regiments (ezred) of which two usually had two squadrons (szazad) and the third three squadrons.

 The first twelve MiG-21F-13 (izdeliye 74) fighters arrived in 1961, followed by 68 more. They were intended to equip the regiments based first at Papa, then Kecskemet and finally Taszar. All three regiments had been formed in November 1958 on the basis of the Kikepzo ezred (Training Centre). HuAF serials were normally red and usually coincided with the last three or four digits of the construction number, with the occasional exception to confuse a potential enemy. […]

German MiG-21

East German MiG 21 – Ultimately equipping in various guises six JG and two Taktische Aufklärungsfliegerstaffel (Tactical Air Reconnaissance Squadron, TAPS), the MiG-21 played a major role in the EGAF (East Germany Air Force) right up to the reunification of East and West Germany on 3rd October 1990. At that point, although 50 MiG-21 s had been withdrawn from EGAF service in 1989 as part of a friendly gesture by all Warsaw Pact countries, 251 MiG-21 s of seven differ­ent versions were transferred to the unified Luftwaffe. Not accepted as a standard type, the MiG-21s were rapidly phased out of Luftwaffe service. […]

Finland MiG-21

Finland MiG 21 Fishbed – On 6th March 1918, three months after Finland’s declaration of independence, the Finnish Air Force (Suomen llmavoimat) was created when Count Eric von Rosen donated a Morane Saulnier Type D parasol monoplane built by Thulin. The aircraft carried the Count’s blue swastika as a good luck charm and this was adopted by the Finnish Air Force as its national insignia until changed in 1945 for blue and white roundels. […]

Egyptian MiG-21

Egyptian MiG 21 – The first MiG-21 F-13 (izdeliye 74) fighters arrived in June and July 1962 and equipped one Fighter Brigade, equivalent to a US Fighter Wing, comprising three squadrons. Another 80 were ordered in 1963 and followed in 1964 by 40 MiG-21 U (izdeliye 66) trainers and 40 MiG-21 PF (izdeliye 76) interceptors. The latter were sent to the Brigade that received the first supply of MiG-21 F-13s, which were passed on to replace MiG-17s and MiG-19s in other regiments. In 1965 there was a reorganisation of the Egyptian Air Force; the brigades and squadrons were renumbered and by the outbreak of the Six-Day War on 6th June 1967, the EAF had received 235 MiG-21 fighters and 40 trainers. […]

Czech MiG-21

The Czech MiG-21 – Deliveries of the MiG-21 F-13 (izdeliye 74) to the Warsaw Pact countries started in 1961, but Czechoslovakia was exceptional in that it was permitted to manufacture the new fighter under licence. The Mikoyan OKB worked very closely with the Aero Vodochody National Corporation, which built 194 MiG-21 F-13s under the local designation S-106.  All Czechoslovakia Air Force (CzAF) examples were locally built. At the end of the 1960s the designation S-106 was dropped and the Czech-built fighters were henceforth referred to as MiG-21 F-13s. […]

Cuban MiG-21

Cuban MiG 21 Fishbed – The first MiG-21 F-13 fighters to arrive in Cuba in 1962 belonged to the 213th IAP, PVO, USSR. This regiment, when based at Kubinka as the 32nd GvIAP, was the first in the USSR to receive the MiG-21 F-13, becoming operational in 1961. Its designation was changed and it was secretly moved in June 1962 to a Baltic port and, together with its 40 fighters and six UTI MiG-15 trainers, transhipped to Cuba, arriving in September and taking up residence at Santa Clara. As a sensible precaution after the Cuban Missile Crisis started on 22nd October, its aircraft were prudently dispersed to San Antonio de los Baños, Santa Clara and Camagüey at the end of October. At first the fighters carried no national insignia but after a potentially perilous confrontation with two Lockheed F-104C Starfighters of the USAF’s 479th Tactical Fighter Wing, FAR insignia were hastily added. […]

North Korean MiG-21

North Korean MiG-21 Fishbed – After the country was liberated from the Japanese, the North was quickly brought into the communist sphere of influence whilst the South looked to the USA for assistance. On 25th June 1950 the North Korean army invaded the South, which, with help from the United Nations, finally repelled the invaders and an uneasy truce was agreed in 1953, which is still holding. The Korean People’s Army Air Force (KPAAF) was separated from the Army in 1948. The USSR provided aid until 1991, from which time aircraft and other goods were charged at the market price and paid for in hard currency. […]

Serbian MiG-21

The Serbian MiG-21 – the Yugoslav Air Force (Later Serbian AF) and Air Defence Force (YuAF, or JRV i PVO – Jugoslovensko Ratno Vazduhoplovstvo i Protiv-vazdusna Odbrana) was formed on 5th January 1945 as part of the army. These two constituent parts of the YuAF were united under a single and independent entity in July 1959. In 1986, the YuAF was organised into three Regional Corps, each containing all branches of the military; the aviation element comprised one fighter regi­ment and an Aviation Brigade, which contained amongst other units two fighter-bomber and one reconnaissance squadron. This conformation continued until 25th June 1991, when first Slovenia and, shortly afterwards, Croatia declared their independence. […]

Croatian MiG-21

Croatian MiG 21 – State Defender

Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991. Several Independent Air Units (Samostalni zrakoplovni vod, SZV) with a total of 41 aircraft operated to support local units (HV) of the National Guard (Zbor Narodne Garde, ZNG) fighting the Yugoslav army. After the Yugoslav army withdrew from most of Croatia in 1992 the Croatian Air Force (CroAF) or Hrvatsko ratno zrakoplovstvo i protuzračna obrana (HRZ i PZO) was formed. The only fighter aircraft used so far by the CroAF is the MiG-21 bis (izdeliye 75A and 75B) supported by MiG-21 UM (izdeliye 69) trainers converted to the ground attack role. […]

Bulgarian MiG-21

Bulgarian MiG 21 Fishbed

In September 1963 the Bulgarian PVOiWS (Air Defence Force and Air Force) took delivery of 12 MiG-21 F-13s. The new aircraft were taken from the 10th and 11th batches of production at Moscow zavod 30 ‘ZnamyaTruda’, which in 1962 had introduced a production line for export customers; the factory at Gor’kiy having switched to building a later model, the IVIiG-21 PF, for the Soviet Air Force. The MiG-21 F-13s were all initially based at Graf Ignatievo AB, Burgas, with 2 Iztrebitelna Avioeskadrila (IAE – Fighter Squadron) of the 19 Iztrebitelen Aviopolk (IAP – Fighter Regiment), that is, 2/19 IAE. […]

Tupolev Tu-126

Tupolev Tu-126 – In 1958, eleven years before the USAF began to work on its AWACS counterpart, the Soviet Union tested prototypes of its first large DRLO, (long-range airborne surveillance radar). At this time OKB-156, headed by Tupolev, was instructed to study aircraft to carry what became the AK-RLDN (aviation complex for radar for patrol and air control) – the Tupolev Tu-126. The requirement was to keep watch on all airspace surrounding the USSR. […]

MiG-29 History

MiG-29 History – Born of “Fulcrum”

The shock came when the CIA in Langley, USA, looked through data sent by their surveillance satellites from Ramenscoye aircraft test facility in Russia, at this time still the USSR and a potent enemy to NATO. According to rumors the USSR was going to introduce a new aircraft generation (MiG-29) with a performance equal to that of new NATO aircraft such as the F15 and F16. Nobody really believed in them, because the USSR was said to lack the experience and the abilities to develop such a high-tech aircraft. As the intelligence officer went through the data, he could hardly believe his eyes. He found signs of an aircraft at Ramenscoye ramp with a fuselage shape somewhat similar to an F15 but smaller in size. It received “RAM-L” as code-name for being a test aircraft from Ramenscoye and not yet in use with the Soviet Air Force. […]

Indian MiG-29

Indian MiG-29 UPG Bazz

The Indian Air Force MiG-29 UPG known as Baaz is the air superiority fighter and forms the second line of defence for the IAF after the Sukhoi Su-30MKI. The IAF operates 69 MiG-29s.

The MiG 29 Fulcrum was designed as an all-weather interceptor aircraft for gaining and maintaining air superiority above the battlefield. MiG-29 was intended to operate from small makeshift bases, located closely to the ground operations, moving forward into enemy territory with the forward line of own troops. Additionally MiG-29 should give a certain close air support and protection to the ground forces when air superiority had already been archived. The aircraft’s general layout was determined by requirements for high maneuverability, a heavy air-to-air and air­ to-ground weapons load, high maintainability and reliability, the latter being off less importance than the others. […]

MiG-29 Luftwaffe

MiG-29 Luftwaffe – in service

At the very beginning the Luftwaffe hardly welcomed the weapons system. German officials were very suspicious about an Eastern type of aircraft in use with a standard NATO wing. In 1990 the decision was made to keep the MiG 29 in airworthy condition and to conduct a minimum flying service at a rate of two or three flight hours per week and per aircraft from January 1991 onwards. Four MiG 29s, two A and two UB models were handed over to the Test and Evaluation Center 61 (WTD 61) in Manching near Ingolstadt, Bavaria. Another MiG 29s went overseas to the US Air Force for evaluation and remained there for over one and a half years. With the “Gulf War” becoming more and more inevitable, sorties and missions of aircraft from the “allied” nations were conducted against the MiG, as MiG-29 was also one of the spearheads in Saddam Hussein’s air force. […]

MiG-29 Upgrade

Luftwaffe MiG-29 Upgrade

After the decision was made to keep MiG-29 Fulcrum in Luftwaffe service, the German MoD began to think about a possible combat efficiency upgrade for its MiG-29s to overcome most of these technical problems such as the cockpit placards being written in Cyrillic, making it difficult for a Western pilot to operate the aircraft properly. Another problem can be found in the avionics, which are set to the metrical system. The altimeter read outs are in meters, ranges on the radar are in kilometers and the speed is given in kilometers per hour. The most important problem of the MiG 29, however, is limited fuel capacity. As MiG-29 lacks an air­ to-air refueling capability, CAP (combat air patrol) operations inside an FAOR for more than 35 minutes are impossible without continual replacement of the participating aircraft. DASA (now EADS) at Manching was chosen, together with MiG MAPO at Russia forming MAPS, a German-Russian joint venture, which should conduct the upgrade for all MiG-29s to Western ICAO standards. […]