New Delhi: MiG-21s, which have been in news for frequent crashes, will be phased out of the Indian Air Force by 2017 and replaced by modern fighter aircraft such as Su-30MKI and indigenous LCA.
"The MiG-21s will get phased out by 2015-16. I think the last of the squadrons of the aircraft will be phased out by 2017," Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju said.
Over the years, the IAF has inducted a total of 946 MiG 21s in its fleet and 476 of them have been lost in various accidents over the past 45 years.
In a recent report, the ministry acknowledged that most of these accidents had occurred due to old technology.
The minister said the MiG 21s "constitute the majority of our squadrons and they will gradually be replaced by the Light Combat Aircraft (LCAs) and the Su-30MKI."
Raju said after the phasing out of the "MiG 21s from operational service, the IAF will have the LCA, SU-30MKI, Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), which is being developed with Russia."
On 126 M-MRCA, Raju said a decision on the mega deal would be taken by the end of this year.
He said at present the technical offsets are being evaluated after which the commercial bids will be opened and on their basis, the government will take a final decision about the contract.
The IAF is looking to procure 126 M-MRCA jets for which Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon have been shortlisted.
The competition also involved four others including the Russian MiG 35, Swedish Saab Gripen and the American Boeing F/A-18 E/F and the Lockheed Martin F-16 combat jets.