LakshmanPST wrote:I know it is IAF's decision, and they obviously know what they're doing... But I have a doubt...
The latest MIG 27s were inducted after 1986... They're around 30 years old... I guess they have few more years left in their airframe life...
The canon may have become redundant, but why can't they use the jets for other roles... When the squadron strength is low, can't they continue operating it for another 5-6 years as a Strike aircraft just to maintain nos....?
Even with some airframe life possibly left (Total Technical Life of 3000 hrs), the decision to retire the MiG-27 UPG also makes sense to me because pilots/technicians can all be moved and converted to existing types, especially MKI squadrons that need more manpower than other types. There are still 2 more MKI squadrons to be formed based on the number of MKIs that have to be delivered to the IAF by HAL out of the 272 ordered.
The MiG-27 UPG, even with the upgrade is a very limited single role jet. It's primary mission, air to ground interdiction and CAS, is risky in today's battlefield with the IAF also moving towards stand off attacks as much as possible. It cannot defend itself, it carried air to surface weapons that were almost exclusively of Russian origin and must've been running out of shelf life themselves. Litening LDP integration was done and it could carry LGBs (see image below) but I'm not sure how good the aircraft was at mission profiles that required medium to high altitude stand off strike. The MiG-27 was too long in the tooth to be integrated with the newer bombs coming into service like HSLD, Spice 2000, etc.
So basically the way I see it, the primary issues that would have driven its retirement:
1- Poor attrition rate for the type. the MiG-23 and MiG-27 have the worst attrition rate of all IAF fast jets. Far worse than the MiG-21 that gets maligned with all sorts of name calling. Remember, the attrition rate is measured on the basis of number of crashes (or writeoffs) per 10,000 hours.
2- the IAF is the last Air Force using MiG-27s. Spares will now be harder to come by as there is no other customer for the OEM, MiG. Whatever spares could be indigenised would be, but many would be very hard to come by
3- Higher workload for pilots, with poor flexibility for taking on mission profiles that it wasn't designed for. All other types in service now, are far more flexible and can take on multiple combat roles.