Indian Air Force plans to extend operational life of MiG-29 fighter jets

Indian Air Force plans to extend operational life of MiG-29 fighter jets

To increase the operating lifespan of its fleet of frontline MiG-29 fighter jets, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has outlined an ambitious plan. The second life extension effort attempts to move the previously planned 2027 retirement date for these powerful aircraft to the revised target of 2037. With this extension, the fleet will essentially remain in service for 50 years, demonstrating the IAF’s dedication to making the most of its current resources and strengthening its air defence capabilities.

The MiG-29 fighter jets were introduced to the IAF for the first time in 1986 and were instrumental in enhancing India’s aerial capabilities. India purchased this famous fighter aircraft from the Soviet Union as one of its first export customers. The MiG-29 fleet has demonstrated its mettle throughout time in a variety of operational settings, showcasing its adaptability and combat capability.

The IAF started the first life extension effort under the Upgrade Programme (UPG) in the past to maintain the MiG-29 fleet up to date and combat-ready. This extensive upgrade changed the aircraft’s previous air dominance configuration and improved its ability to conduct air to ground strikes.

The IAF is preparing to give its fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets new life as the second life extension program approaches. The No. 11 Base Repair Depot, which is close to Nashik, will be the site of the project’s execution. This depot is the appropriate location to carry out this significant life extension program because it is expressly designated for the maintenance and overhaul of fighter aircraft of Russian descent.

The locally produced Tejas MkII fighter plane is set to take the stage as the IAF concentrates on modernization and fleet optimization. The Tejas MkII is slated to replace the ailing Jaguar strike aircraft, with its first flight predicted in 2025 and subsequent induction planned for 2029 and beyond.

After 2035, the Tejas MkII will take on an even bigger role, replacing the IAF’s fleet of both the French Mirage-2000 and the Russian MiG-29UPG. This ambitious transformation will modernize the fighter jet fleet of the IAF and establish a cutting-edge, indigenous platform for upcoming air operations.

By Mansi Arora, Roorkee