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Keeping Old MiGs Flying

by John Reed on July 28, 2011

This interesting piece over at Asian Skies, Flight Global’s blog on all things flight-related in Asia,  highlights the difficulities the Indian Air Force is having in keeping its fleet of Soviet-built fighters, transports and tankers flying due to their aging parts.

It lists IAF RfPs (tenders) for everything from Migg-21 tires to An-32 lugs and wheel hubs for its IL-76 tankers and makes the point that the increasing difficulty in keeping these jets flying may be pushing India toward more purchases of Western aircraft.

All air forces (and vintage car owners, for that matter) face issues finding spares for older equipment. India, however, seems to be particularly challenged, with a diversity of aircraft types  - many with overlapping capabilities — and a number of airframes that have served well beyond their intended service life, particularly the MiG-21s. A glance at the IAF’s tenders underlines its urgent need to obtain new types.

Remember, the IAF just eliminated the MiG-35 from moving ahead in the MMRCA contest in favor of the European built Typhoon and Rafale. All this makes me think back to yesterday’s post on the Free Libyan Air Force flying MiG-21s; I’ve got to say, it’s a testament to the rebels tenacity and tech skills to see them flying any fast jets at all.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

jamesb July 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm

One thing we know……

They ain't buying US fighter a/c anytime soon…..

They ARE getting C-17's….
But Congress probably wouldn't approve enough technology in any US fighter jet for it to actually get off the ground……


Hunter78 July 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Migg? That's no simple typo– that shows the writer is a hack who knows nothing about military aviation. And when he quotes, the spelling is right.


TLAM Strike July 28, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Confusing it with a LaGG maybe? :)


Steven R. July 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Simple typo, please chill. The article was informing and did its job.


IknowIT July 29, 2011 at 3:25 am

Hunter, your retardation continues. What do you think this is, a full fledged magazine? When you have your own site, that people actually come to and read, and get sosmething out of, then talk. Untill then, all you have is your worthless posts and your hand. If you keep this up, you will be ignored as a troll.


IknowIT July 29, 2011 at 3:28 am

So, what happened to them looking at our stuff? Maybe not F35, but certainly F15 or whatever…


ostheim July 29, 2011 at 11:06 am

i dont see the big deal on this, why not just manufacture the parts? If they designed a fighter them selves, they would have to anyway. Mig-21s arent being produced anymore but if keeping them is a priority, then make the parts.


Mastro July 29, 2011 at 11:43 am

It is a strange complaint. If there is a market for used jet parts- the 21 has to top the list.

Don't the Russians have a Monthan equivalent?

Its really a 3rd World model- have a flashy airforce with a bunch of Mach 2 fighters- but no spares or mechanics who can use them.


JSCS July 29, 2011 at 11:22 am

Ostheim is thinking, isn't there a business opportunity here for some aero firms in the west?

Maybe they'd like a few F-5's in the mean time? Maintainable, parts available, good record in use. Anyone at Grumman?


Lance July 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Alot of countries still have MiG-21 and will buy parts for them. Theres even countries who fly MiG-17s still. As for India they are not buying MiG-35 BUT they are buying MiG-29Ks for its new aircraft carrier.


Armored July 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

I used to mock people with this kind of tech but, sometimes, something is better than nothing, unless you can afford better…


Nenad July 31, 2011 at 2:26 pm

India is going to buy lots of 4th generation planes, and even some 5th. US or Europe should take this market, even by selling at production cost, or credits with minimal interest rate. Russia don't have enough money for PAK FA, China is building it's own J-20 so only India left to finance Russian 5th generation aircraft. By taking India's market PAK FA is killed out of action, than US can go for Iran and China. Economic victory and lots of high paid jobs in years of crises.


Condor August 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm

The most desirable fighters in the world are those that have been adopted and flown by the U.S. military. Cheaper, and excellent, are several that lost out to the ones that were adopted by the U.S., one by a U.S. aviation company. These are excellent planes, why doesn’t India buy THOSE?


Nenad August 1, 2011 at 8:47 am

Don't forget that Russia has only few dozens of Su-30', Su-35' and other new planes, and price of stealth is even higher. Russians have problems with materials(composite, some crystal stuff) with new weapons for the program, so Indian money could help a lot, or lack of same can make things harder.
Also India is potential ally due to border conflict with China, it's enemy of Pakistan which is officially only(?) Muslim country with nukes (and obviously links with Al Qaeda) could be useful if Pakistani Taliban take over, or simply for pressure on their regime.
And economic situation in US demand increase of export, so why not to a India.


Enrico August 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

"it's enemy of Pakistan which is officially only(?) Muslim country with nukes (and obviously links with Al Qaeda) could be useful if Pakistani Taliban take over, or simply for pressure on their regime."
This was really funny, Nenad. So the US should arm an other country to counter a country that they've armed before? What would happen if India would become the next enemy of US interest? US should once again sell tecnhology and weapons to Pakistan and even China (there was unofficial collaboration back during Cold War after all). India has the potential to become more than a regional power, at that point the US could have a hard time making coincide their interests with India's ones.
The US should give up on the old "enemy of my enemy is my friend" strategy, they've made too many errors with similar "pragmatic" moves (Iran, Talibans, Pakistan, etc.).


Stratege August 2, 2011 at 2:12 am

Su-30 is export-oriented fighter jet. Hundreds of 30's were produced were produced and supplied. It never was intended as bird for Russian airforce.
Su-35BM is their brand new multirole combat aircraft for RuAF. It is in mass production since 2011.
Do the Russian have problems with composites? Really? I don't think so. PAK-FA/T-50's airframe uses ~75% percentage of advanced Russian-made composite materials in its parts. In the late 90's, Su-47 (experimental fighter jet and "flying labaratory" for PAK-FA) had wings made entirely with super strong composites!
New weapons for PAK-FA is under development. These new types are classified. I didn't see any reports about problems with their weapons.
As i said before, PAK-FA program became reality because it was funded with Russian money.


blight August 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Never stopped us from arming Iran to counter Russia which then armed Iraq and then arming Iraq to stop Iran, and then arming Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to check Iraq before invading Iraq and rearming them in the event of having to fight Iran again.



blight August 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm

And yes, arming people out of political expediency or money was not smart. However, arming locals and getting them to do your dirty business is often cheaper than sending in troops to die. Look at the return on investment the PRC got from supporting North Vietnam.

Think of where we'd be if we simply supported Uncle Ho in the '40s instead of the French. France pulled out of NATO anyways and France could never be strong in the Pacific, so…


blight August 1, 2011 at 11:16 pm

And in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Or, in the village of unarmed herders, the guy with the rusty AK-47 is king.


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