Halwara, Ludhiana: After three decades, the Russian-made MiG-23BN combat fighter aircraft was phased out of service by the Indian Air Force at a ceremony at the airbase here. Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major described the aircraft as one of IAF's "very formidable" assets.
The last unit to operate the ground attack aircraft was the IAF's 220 squadron.
The fighter did not experience much action in the course of its service with the IAF, except for patrol duties during 'Operation Meghdoot' in Siachen in the mid-1980s and the 1999 Kargil conflict.
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Presiding over the ceremony, ACM Fali H Major said when IAF was formally retiring one of its "very formidable" assets, he was overwhelmed by an indescribable feeling, that of pride tinged with sadness.
Describing the "swing-wing" MiG-23BN as "the most powerful single-engine fighter in the world," Major said it was of a revolutionary design with a variable wing sweep and air intake, and a very complex weapon delivery system, that was fairly advanced for its times.
"It gave the IAF a tremendous boost in its capability, and we had to get used to the tremendous roar of its R-29 engine. They also played havoc with the surfaces of our runways," he added on a lighter note.