COIMBATORE: Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on Monday explained why MiG-21 Bison fighters were used by the IAF to take on Pakistan Air Force F-16 jets after the latter violated Indian air space on February 27, stressing that Mig-21 Bison is capable enough to defeat any plane in aerial dogfight.
The IAF chief added that the MiG-21 Bison has been upgraded and has “better radar, air-to air missiles and better weapons system", ANI reported.
"The Mig-21 Bison is a capable aircraft, it has been upgraded,” Dhanoa told reporters while responding to questions over why the IAF used MiG-21 to counter the F-16s.
He remarked that aircraft are chosen in a planned mission but when an adversary strikes, every available aircraft is used to counter the enemy. "One is a planned operation in which you plan & carry out. But when an adversary does a strike on you, every available aircraft goes in, irrespective of which aircraft it is. All aircraft are capable of fighting the enemy," he said.
It may be recalled that a MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was shot down by the Pakistan jets while Wing Commander Abhinandan was chasing PAF's F-16s. Abhinandan managed to eject safely but he landed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) where he was taken into captivity. Wing Commander Abhinandan remained in Pakistan's custody for nearly 60 hours before his return to India late on Friday evening.
Though the MiG-21 Bison is not a very large aircraft but it can fly at a very high speed which allows it to sneak up to enemy planes from low altitude. The presence of a delta wing, just like Mirage 2000, makes the MiG 21 highly manoeuvrable in dogfights. MiG 21 is a single seater plane with a length of 14.7 m (48 ft 2 in) and wingspan of 7.154 m (23 ft 6 in).
Answering questions over when Wing Commander Abhinandan will be allowed to fly, the Air Chief said that the decision will depend on his fitness. "Whether he (Wing Commander Abhinandan) flies or not depends on his medical fitness. That's why post-ejection, he has undergone medical check up. Whatever treatment required, will be given. Once we get his medical fitness, he will get into fighter cockpit," he said.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after 40 CRPF personnel were martyred in a suicide bombing attack by Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed on February 14. Thirteen days after the cowardly attack, IAF's Mirage -2000 fighter jets bombed JeM's biggest training camp at Balakot in Pakistan. A day later, Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.
(with ANI inputs)