The Indian Air Force (IAF) will celebrate its 89th anniversary with a stunning air parade on October 8, Indian media reported. The rehearsal has already taken place in Ghaziabad, after which the IAF command posted photos on Twitter using the hashtag #AviationPhotoAlert. Say, “to be beautiful in flight is the way of life” of the local pilots.
There were no images of the MiG-21 Bizon among them, but in the comments to #AviationPhotoAlert, endless gratitude was expressed to this aircraft, which will definitely make up the Su-30 and MiG-29 companies at the parade and on which all the current IAF leadership flew. It seems that the Americans also decided to say a special “thank you” to the MiG-21, commenting on the anniversary of the Indian Air Force, especially since there is a concrete reason for this.
By the way, when in 1959 the MiG-21 appeared in the Soviet ranks, the Yankees, not without mockery, christened it “fishbed”, designating it as “Fishbed” in the NATO classification. The contemptuous name, apparently, was supposed to motivate the pilots of the US Air Force for an easy victory. If you look for old overseas publications, you can find articles in which a very short life was predicted for this aircraft. But he turned out to be an old-timer and even at such an ancient age, two years ago he was able to shoot down a 4th generation Stars and Stripes fighter in a real air battle on the Indian-Pakistani border.
In all fairness, in the United States, the absolute majority does not believe in the Indian version of the battle over Kashmir. Local expert Tyler Rogoway on the pages of “The Drive” decided to dot the “i” in the endless debate of the overseas analytical public on whether the “Bison” could even shoot down the “Viper” (as the IAF called the F-16 Fighting Falcon (“Attacking Falcon”).
Recall that the events that are now being remembered in both India and the United States took place in the skies over Kashmir on February 27, 2019 and almost provoked a nuclear conflict. Then, in a fleeting battle, two aircraft crashed, including the F-16, which is now in service with a number of countries. Since the Fighting Falcon is the main export product of the US military-industrial complex, all the Stars and Stripes media stood up to defend the “Attacking Falcon”.
In the United States, citing data from Islamabad, they argue that there is no evidence that the Pakistani Air Force lost the F-16. But this is exactly the case when such an argument is better to be thrown aside. Nobody canceled the information war, so it is foolish to hope for the confession of defeat on the part of the Pakistanis. On the other hand, the photographs submitted by the IAF are of low and questionable quality. And in general, in the pictures of the wreckage, the GE-F11 engine is guessed, while the American defense industry supplied Fighting Falcon aircraft to Pakistan only with the F100 Pratt & Whitney turbofan.
In reality, the Pentagon answered “no” to all the calls of the journalist fraternity to declassify the primary sources of defense contracts with Pakistan, primarily for the modernization of the F-16. Yes, there are press releases and reports from the US Department of Defense, but the value of the documents provided by Washington and Islamabad is as dubious as the Indian “evidence.” And there, and there the public urges, in fact, to take their word for it.
That is why in February and March 2019, an endless stream of disinformation and a variety of speculations about the battle over Kashmir poured. Let’s put it bluntly: even now, real data about what happened then have not been disclosed.
“Over and over, crowds of people, including major news outlets from around the world, argue about a subject they know nothing about,” writes Tyler Rogoway. – The answer to the question of whether the seemingly archaic MiG-21 could really shoot down the Pakistani F-16 is not a problem. The problem is that many have argued that such a loss was impossible or was a sign of some very embarrassing mistake by the incompetent Pakistani Air Force. Or, conversely, that the F-16 as a modern combat aircraft should be discounted due to the perceived loss. All this is absolute and total swill. “
In other words, any interpretation of those events carries a subjective assessment. Expert Rogoway, referring to the experience of the US Air Force pilots, writes that “modern air combat is not a Hollywood blockbuster or a computer game.” It is a set of momentary factors and technical capabilities, while pilots just do their job, just like in training flights.
When many Yankees or Americanophiles argue that the “Fishbed” cannot, by definition, shoot down the “Acting Falcon,” they are mistaken, to put it mildly. The fact is that the Bizon, on which the IAF pilots fly, is not a MiG-21, produced more than 60 years ago. Today, the aircraft is equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and avionics, making it a 4th generation fighter.
For example, a new airborne radar allows an Indian pilot to use an R-77 air-to-air missile beyond the visual range of the Pakistani F-16. “Bizon” also received electronic warfare Elta-8222 from Israel. And although this equipment is a little outdated, but according to the Americans, “it is still capable of inflicting absolute damage on enemy radar systems.”
In short, we can safely say that the forces were approximately equal. Roguey, by the way, does not urge him to take his word for it. The US Air Force learned this from its own bitter experience during one of the most useful exercises in modern history – Cope India 2004, where machines much cooler than Attack Falcons – heavy fighters went into battle against the modernized “Fish Lodges” F-15 Eagle (“Eagle”).
This is how the American pilots described those air “battles”: small) “Bison” roared out of nowhere within sight of the “Eagles”.
Indian MiG-21s suddenly attacked F-15s with their R-73 infrared-guided missiles before disappearing again. And even if the Eagles noticed the Bison at the last moment, Indian pilots could negate the flight capabilities of the clumsy “Americans” using a helmet-mounted guidance system and again the R-73 missiles in a “fire and forget” scheme.
The Eagles also outnumbered the Bison by more than three to one. However, there is nothing unusual here: the US Air Force is many times larger than the Russian Air Force, whose capabilities were imitated by the Indians. If you try to find the image of the “Fishbed” of the early 2000s, then it certainly cannot be called a cavalryman or a reconnaissance officer. Rather, at that time, the upgraded MiG-21 was a ninja, according to The Drive.
“With all this in mind, is it possible for Bison to shoot down a Pakistani F-16?” Asks expert Tyler Rogoway and replies: “Of course it is. India’s claim that the MiG-21 fired an R-73 just before it was shot down is exactly what we know about Bizon’s cunning tactics since Cope India-2004. “
Without a doubt, today “Bison” is outdated and cannot compete on equal terms with the new F-15 and F-16, nevertheless, it deserves the gratitude from the Indian Air Force fairly. But there is one unpleasant “but”. The Yankees are also very grateful to the Indian MiG-21, first of all, for the fact that their air victories at Cope India-2004 caused a number of important upgrades in the US Air Force, without which the Americans, in their own words, would have lost the hypothetical air war of the Russian Aerospace Forces.