With Serious fundamental flaws with its R-29B-300 turbojet engine, MiG-27 in Indian Air Force history suffered from chequered past with a long spell of grounding which made Mig-27 a highly controversial aircraft within IAF. Once dubbed as best Strike aircraft when it was introduced in 80’s, aircraft failed to live up to its reputation and failed to age well.

Variable sweep attack fighter derived from Mig-23BN airframe was licensed produced by HAL and around 165 units of them were built at its Ozhar plant and the last unit was delivered to IAF in 1997 while the first unit was inducted in 1984.

MiG-27 become utterly obsolete even when it was still manufactured by HAL due to the advancement of 4th generation fighter which came with modern avionics while Mig-27 was still equipped with basic 70’s era avionics which not even allowed it to carry out night attack missions.

While the need to upgrade Mig-27 fleet was felt immediately in early 90’s but after the collapse of Soviet Union talks between Indo-Soviet working group formed to conduct a high-level review to upgrade Mig-27 too collapsed without any headways.

Mig-27 fleet like Mig-23 fleet in IAF suffered from fundamental design flaws along with poorly designed Tumansky R-29 aero engine which made it a dangerous machine to fly and the aircraft also suffered from high accident rate much more than Mig-21 which was often called as ” Flying Coffin ” by Indian media.

Russia under a separate program offered India to replace obsolete R29B-300 engine aboard MiG-27M aircraft with the modern AL-31F engine but it was rejected after few test flights due to additional cost required to procure new engines and also due to poor design implementation of aircraft’s undercarriage done to convert Mig-23BN into Mig-27.

Mig-27ML formed Seven operational squadrons and nearly three operational squadrons have been retired and the last unit to retire was done a few days back. IAF still operates a small fleet of upgraded Mig-27s which might be operated for few more years but the early retirement of Mig-27 has dented IAF’s Strike capabilities to a large extent.

Mig-27 within 10 years was turning obsolete and within 20 years it was most dangerous aircraft to fly in the Indian air force fleet and by the time it turned 30 there were was barely any aircraft left. Mig-27 and Mig-23 were once described as the pinnacle of Soviet engineering which carried a fearsome reputation in the minds of western strategists but both aircrafts failed to live up to its hype and were found with a significant deficiency in operational performance alongside the poorly designed engine and airframe.


NOTE : Article cannot be reproduced without written permission of in any form