WORLD> Asia-Pacific
Indian air force to retire MiG-23 fighters
Updated: 2009-03-05 17:04

NEW DELHI -- The Indian Air Force will retire on Friday its MiG-23 "swing wing" ground attack fighters after nearly 30 years in service, said the Indo-Asian News Service on Thursday.

The MiG-23 BN aircraft were bought from the former Soviet Union to counter Pakistan's F-16 jets 30 years ago. It will have its last sortie from the Halwara airbase in Punjab, western India, on Friday, said the report.

The single-seater aircraft was also used in Kargil War in 1981 the Siachen operations in 1985 and 1986, both of them against Pakistan in the Kashmir region.

But the aircraft has a dubious safety record and are known for frequent engine troubles. About half of the 70 MiG-23 aircraft of the Indian air force were lost in air crashes and other accidents, the report quoted air force source as saying.

Big maintenance costs and problems relating to non-availability of spare parts also led to its retirement, said the report.  

Apart from MiG-23, India air force also flies Sukhoi 37, MiG-25, MiG-27, MiG-29, Mirage 2000, Jaguar and Canberra.