Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21

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MiG-21 Lancer
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB
Maiden flight 1956-06-14
Introduced 1959
Primary user Soviet Air Force, People's Liberation Army Air Force, Indian Air Force
Number built 11,000+

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-21) (NATO reporting name "Fishbed") is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed and built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. More than 30 countries of the world have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations a half-century after its first flight. Its Mach 2 capability exceeds the top speed of many later modern fighter types. Estimates are that more than 8,000 MiG-21s were built, more than any other supersonic jet aircraft.[citation needed]


[edit] Development

The first generation of MiG jet fighters was based on designs similar to late-WWII German jet designs, starting with the subsonic MiG-15, MiG-17, and the low supersonic swept-wing MiG-19. A number of experimental Mach 2 Soviet designs were based on nose intakes with either swept-back wings, such as the Sukhoi Su-7, or tailed delta wings, of which the MiG-21 would be the most successful.

The E-5 prototype of the MiG-21 was first flown in 1955 and made its first public appearance during the Soviet Aviation Day display at Moscow's Tushino Airport in June 1956. The first delta-wing prototype, named "Ye-4", (also written as "E-4") flew on 14 June 1956, and the production MiG-21 entered service in early 1959. Employing a delta-wing configuration, the MiG-21 was the first successful Soviet aircraft combining fighter and interceptor characteristics in a single aircraft. It was a lightweight fighter, achieving Mach 2 speed using a relatively low-powered afterburning turbojet, and is thus comparable to the American F-104 Starfighter and French Dassault Mirage III.

When the MiG-21 was first introduced, it exhibited several flaws. Its early version air-to-air missiles, the Vympel K-13 (NATO reporting name AA-2 'Atoll'), were not successful in combat, and its gyro gunsight was easily thrown off in high-speed maneuvers, making the initial version of the MiG-21 an ineffective aircraft. These problems were remedied, and during the Middle Eastern and Vietnam wars, the MiG-21 proved to be an effective aircraft. Subsequent MiG-21 models added design modifications to incorporate lessons learned in these wars.

[edit] Operational history

The MiG-21 initially achieved renown in the Vietnam War, during which it saw frequent action. It was one of the most advanced aircraft at the time; however, many North Vietnamese aces preferred flying the MiG-17, since the high wing loading on the MiG-21 made it less maneuverable than the MiG-17. Although the MiG-21 lacked the long-range radar, missiles, and heavy bombing payload of its contemporary multimission U.S. fighters, it proved a challenging adversary in the hands of experienced pilots. Poor air-to-air combat loss-exchange ratios against smaller, more agile enemy MiGs during the early part of the Vietnam War eventually led the Americans to establish dissimilar air combat training programs such as "Top Gun", which employed subsonic A-4 Skyhawk and F-5 Tiger II aircraft to mimic the performance of more maneuverable opponents like the MiG-21.

A PAVN Air Force MiG-21MF flown by Phạm Tuân over Hanoi, North Vietnam on 27 December 1972 was apparently responsible for the only claimed combat kill of a (U.S. Air Force) B-52 Stratofortress in history. The B-52 had been circling above Hanoi during Operation Linebacker II. During that operation, two MiG-21s were shot down by B-52Ds, the last air-to-air victories for American aerial gunners. Over the course of the Vietnam War, between April 26 1965, and January 8 1973, USAF F-4s and A-4s downed 68 MiG-21s.

The MiG-21 was also used extensively in the Middle East conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s by the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq against Israel. The MiG-21 initially faced Israeli F-4 Phantoms and A-4 Skyhawks in the 1970s, but was later outclassed by the more modern F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, which were acquired by Israel beginning in the 1980s. The MiG-21 was also used in the early stages of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.

The Indian Air Force has been one of the largest users of the MiG-21 since its initial employment of the plane in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 with good results. That war also witnessed the first supersonic air combat on the subcontinent when an Indian MiG-21 shot down a Pakistani F-104 Starfighter<ref>[1]</ref>. The MiGs played an important role in air combat, ensuring an aerial superiority that ultimately resulted in Pakistan's defeat in just a fortnight. It was also used as late as 1999 in the Kargil War, with mixed results.[citation needed] MiG-21's last known kill took place during the Atlantique Incident when two MiG-21 aircraft of the Indian Air Force shot down a Breguet Atlantic spy plane of the Pakistani Navy hovering over Indian airspace.

Like many aircraft designed as interceptors, the MiG-21 had a short range. This was not helped by a design defect where the center of gravity shifted rearwards once two-thirds of the fuel had been used. This had the effect of making the plane uncontrollable, resulting in an endurance of only 45 minutes in clean condition. The delta wing, while excellent for a fast-climbing interceptor, did mean that any form of turning combat led to a rapid loss of speed. However, the light loading of the aircraft could mean that, at 50% fuel and with 2 Vympel K-13 (NATO reporting name AA-2 'Atoll') air-to-air missiles, a climb rate of 58,000 ft (17,670 m) per minute was possible, not far short of the performance of the later F-16A. Given a skilled pilot and capable missiles, it could give a good account of itself against contemporary fighters. It was replaced by the newer variable-geometry MiG-23 and MiG-27 for ground support duties. However, not until the MiG-29 'Fulcrum' would the Soviet Union ultimately replace the MiG-21 as a maneuvering dogfighter to counter new American air superiority types.

The MiG-21 was exported widely and continues to be used well past the time where it might have been considered obsolete. The aircraft's simple controls, engine, weapons, and avionics were typical of Soviet-era military designs. While technologically inferior to the more advanced fighters it often faced, low production and maintenance costs made it a favorite of nations buying Eastern Bloc military hardware.

Due to the lack of available information, early details of the MiG-21 were often confused with those of the similar Sukhoi fighters also under development. Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1960-1961 describes the "Fishbed" as a Sukhoi design, and uses an illustration of the Su-9 "Fishpot."

[edit] Variants

MiG-21, Deutsches Museum, Munich
  • Ye-2 (NATO: "Faceplate") : Swept-wing prototype.
  • Ye-4 (I-500) : The first delta wing prototype of the MiG-21.
  • Ye-5 (NATO: "Fishbed") : Delta wing research prototype.
  • Ye-6 : Three pre-production aircraft.
  • MiG-21 : The first series of fighters.
  • MiG-21F (NATO: "Fishbed-B") : Single-seat day fighter aircraft. It was the first production aircraft, with 40 machines being made. The MiG-21F was powered by a Tumansky R-11 turbojet engine and armed with two 30-mm NR-30 cannon. Prototype Ye-6T was redesignated MiG-21F.
  • Ye-50 : Swept-wing research prototype.
  • Ye-66 : Single-seat version, built for breaking the world speed record.
  • Ye-66A : Built to break the world altitude record.
  • Ye-66B :
  • Ye-76 :
  • Ye-152 (NATO: "Flipper") : Bigger than a MiG-21, the Ye-152 'Flipper' was a high-performance aircraft, which achieved at least 3 world records.
  • MiG-21F-13 (NATO: "Fishbed-C") : Single-seat, short-range day fighter. The MiG-21F-13 was the first mass-production model. The MiG-21F-13 was powered by a Tumansky R-11 turbojet engine, it was armed with two Vympel K-13 (AA-2 'Atoll') air-to-air missiles, and one 30-mm NR-30 cannon. The Type 74 is the Indian Air Force designation. The MiG-21F-13 was made in China, and designated Chengdu J-7 or F-7 for export.
  • Chengdu J-7I : The first Chinese production model. Like the MiG-21F-13, it was a single-seat, short-range day-fighter, powered by a Wopen WP-7 turbojet engine. It was exported to Albania and Tanzania as the F-7A.
  • MiG-21FL : Export model of the MiG-21PF. Built under licence in India as the Type 77.
  • MiG-21I (NATO: "Analog") : Testbed for the wing design of the Tu-144 (NATO: 'Charger') supersonic transport.
  • MiG-21SPS : East German version.
  • MiG-21P (NATO: "Fishbed-D") : Single-seat, limited all-weather interceptor fighter. Armed with air-to-air missiles only. Also called "Fishbed-E" by NATO.
  • MiG-21PF (NATO: "Fishbed-D") : Single-seat, limited all-weather fighter, equipped with a RP21 Sapfir radar. The MiG-21PF is the second production model. Prototype Ye-7, Type 76 Indian Air Force designation. Also called "Fishbed-E" by NATO.
  • MiG-21PF (SPS) (NATO: "Fishbed-E") :
Image:MiG-21 RB6.jpg
MiG-21PFM, Polish Air Force, markings of 10th Fighter Regt.
  • MiG-21PFM (NATO: "Fishbed-F") : Single-seat, limited all-weather fighter, with upgraded radar and a more powerful engine. Improved version of the MiG-21PFS.
  • MiG-21PFS (NATO: "Fishbed-F") : Single-seat, limited all-weather fighter, with upgraded radar and a more powerful engine.
  • MiG-21 (NATO: "Fishbed-G") : Experimental short take-off and landing aircraft.
  • MiG-21R (NATO: "Fishbed-H") : Single-seat tactical reconnaissance version of the MiG-21PFM.
  • MiG-21RF (NATO: "Fishbed-J") : Single-seat tactical reconnaissance version of the MiG-21MF.
  • MiG-21S (NATO: "Fishbed-J") : Single-seat interceptor fighter version, equipped with an RP-22 radar and an external gun pod. (Incorrectly identified by NATO as the MiG-21PFMA); E-8, Type 88 Indian Air Force designation.
  • MiG-21SM : Single-seat interceptor fighter version, powered by a Tumansky R-13-300 turbojet engine.
  • MiG-21PFV : High-altitude version (perekhvatchik forsirovannij visotnij, high-altitude boosted interceptor).
  • MiG-21M : Export version powered by a Tumansky R-13 turbojet engine. Built under license in India as the Type 96.
  • MiG-21MF : Export version powered by a Tumansky R-13 turbojet engine.
Image:MiG-21 RB15.JPG
MiG-21MF, Polish Air Force, markings of 3rd Tactical Sqn.
  • MiG-21MF (NATO: "Fishbed-J") : Single-seat multi-role fighter version, equipped with a RP-22 radar, powered by a Tumansky R-13-300 turbojet engine.
  • MiG-21SMT (NATO: "Fishbed-K") : Single-seat multi-role fighter version, powered by a Tumansky R-13 turbojet engine. Increased fuel and ECM capability. (E-9, block 94 and 96)
Image:1 Pucki Dywizjon Lotniczy MiG-21 bis.jpg
MiG-21bis, Polish Air Force, markings of 1st Naval Fighter Sqn.
  • MiG-21bis (NATO: "Fishbed-L") : Single-seat multi-role fighter and ground-attack aircraft. The final production model. This version is powered by a Tumansky R-25-300 turbojet engine.
  • MiG-21bis (NATO: "Fishbed-N") : Single-seat multi-role fighter and ground-attack aircraft.
  • MiG-21U (NATO: "Mongol-A" : Two-seat training version of the MiG-21F-13. Type 66 Indian Air Force designation.
  • MiG-21US (NATO: "Mongol-B" : Two-seat training version. Type 68 Indian Air Force designation.
  • MiG-21UT : Two-seat trainer.
  • MiG-21UM (NATO: "Mongol-B") : Two-seat training version of the MiG-21MF. Type 69 Indian Air Force designation.
  • JJ-7 : Two-seat training version of the J-7. FT-7 export designation of the JJ-7.
  • MiG-21-93 Bison : Upgraded version for the Indian Air Force.
  • MiG-21 Lancer Upgraded version for the Romanian Air Force.
  • J-7II : Upgraded version of the J-7. Single-seat limited all-weather fighter, armed with two 30-mm cannon, and powered by the more powerful Wopen WP-7B turbojet engine. It was exported to Egypt, Sudan and Iraq as the F-7B.
  • J-7E : Improved version with more powerful engine.
  • J-7MG : Improved version.
  • J-7III : Single-seat all-weather fighter, powered by a Wopen WP-13 turbojet engine.
  • F-7BS : Export model for Sri Lanka.
  • F-7M Airguard : Export model sold to Bangladesh, Iran, Myanmar (Burma), and Zimbabwe.
  • F-7MP : Export model for Pakistan.
  • F-7P Skybolt : Export model for Pakistan.
  • G15 VMT :

[edit] Foreign versions

Between 1962 and 1972 the MiG-21F-13 version was manufactured under license by Aero Vodochody, in Czechoslovakia. Aero built a total of 194 planes during this period.

The production of the MiG-21bis under license by Hindustan Aeronautics of India lasted until 1984. Despite a series of crashes during the 1990s, which led to the aircraft acquiring the nickname "flying coffin," the Indian Air Force has decided to upgrade about 128 of the MiG-21bis in its inventory to the MiG-21 "Bison" standard. These will serve the Indian Air Force until 2015.

Chinese copies of the MiG-21 are designated Chengdu J-7 and F-7 (for export).

Russia now offers an upgrade package to bring late-model MiG-21s up to the MiG-21-93 standard. This package provides an upgrade of the avionics suite that includes installation of the Kopyo pulse-doppler radar used by the MiG-29 (NATO reporting name 'Fulcrum'), which enables the aircraft to fire a greater range of modern weapons such as the beyond-visual-range Vympel R-77 (NATO reporting name AA-12 'Adder') air-to-air missile. The upgraded avionics also enhance the aircraft's survivability as well as its ability to engage enemy fighters. Other upgrade features include installation of a dual-screen HUD, helmet-mounted target designator, and advanced flight control systems.

Israeli Aircraft Industries manufactures an upgrade package for the MiG-21 called the MiG-21-2000. [2]

A joint venture between Aerostar SA and Elbit has developed the "Lancer" upgrade package for the MiG-21, and 114 MiG-21s have been upgraded to the MiG-21 Lancer configuration for the Romanian Air Force.

[edit] Users

[edit] Former Operators

Afghanistan, Albania (F-7), Belarus, Burkina Faso, China (10 MiG-21MF obtained from Egypt), Congo, Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic, East Germany, Finland, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, North Vietnam, North Yemen, Poland 581 (MiG-21F-13, MiG-21PF, MiG-21PFM, MiG-21M, MiG-21R, MiG-21MF, MiG-21bis, MiG-21U, MiG-21US, MiG-21UM), Slovakia, Somalia, Soviet Union / Russia, Uganda, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Zambia.

[edit] Current operators

Image:Mig-21 operators.PNG
Operators of the MiG-21

Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh (F-7), Bulgaria (MiG-21bis/MF/R/UM), Cambodia (grounded), China (J-7), Croatia, Cuba (most grounded), Egypt (MiG-21 & F-7), Ethiopia, India, Iran (MiG-21 & F-7), Laos (grounded), Libya (most grounded), Madagascar (grounded), Mongolia (grounded), Mozambique (MiG-21 & F-7), Myanmar (F-7) (Burma), Nigeria (MiG-21s grounded, F-7s on order from China), North Korea (MiG-21 & F-7), Pakistan (F-7), Romania, Serbia, Sri Lanka (F-7), Sudan, Syria, Tanzania (F-7), Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Yemen (MiG-21 & F-7), Zimbabwe (F-7)

In addition to these military operators, some aircraft are now owned and flown by private collectors. In the Seattle area, drivers pass by a MiG-21 at Jet Chevrolet next to Interstate 5 in Federal Way, Washington

[edit] Specifications (Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis)

General characteristics<h3>
  • Crew: One
  • Length: 15.76 m (51 ft 8 in)
  • Wingspan: 7.15 m (23 ft 5 in)
  • Height: 4.12 m (13 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 23 m² (247.5 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 5,350 kg (11,800 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 8,726 kg (19,200 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 9,660 kg (21,300 lb)
  • Powerplant:Tumansky R-25-300 afterburning turbojet, 70 kN (15,700 lbf)
<h3>Performance<h3> <h3>Armament<h3>
  • One centerline twin-barrelled GSh-23 23 mm cannon (PFM, MF, SMT, and bis variants) or one single-barrelled NR-30 cannon (F-13 variant).
  • Up to 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons on two or four underwing hardpoints, depending on the variant. Early machines carried two Vympel K-13 (AA-2 'Atoll') air-to-air missiles under the wing pylons. Late models carried two K-13 and two fuel tanks under the wing pylons or combinations of four K-13 infrared- and radar-guided missiles. The Molniya R-60 (NATO reporting name AA-8 'Aphid') was also used on multiple pylons. Most aircraft carried a single 450 L (119 US gal) fuel tank on the centerline pylon.

[edit] External sources

[edit] External links

[edit] Related content

Related development<h3> Chengdu J-7

<h3>Comparable aircraft<h3> Dassault Mirage III - Lockheed F-104 Starfighter - McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II - Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II <h3>Designation sequence<h3> MiG-15 - MiG-17 - MiG-19 - MiG-21 - MiG-23 - MiG-25 - MiG-27 - MiG-29 <h3>Related lists<h3> List of military aircraft of the Soviet Union and the CIS - List of fighter aircraft

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