BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:40 A.M.) – On February 27th, the Indian and Pakistani air forces engaged in a fierce dogfight above the Kashmir region, resulting in the downing of two IAF MiG-21 Bison fighter jets.
The Indian Ministry of Defense would later claim that their MiG-21 shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during the intense confrontation; Islamabad later denied this.
However, when asked why they used their old MiG-21 fighter jets against the new Pakistani F-16s, the Indian Air Chief BS Dhanoa responded, “the MiG-21 is in our inventory, why will we not use it?”
According to Dhanoa, the MiG-21 Bison has been upgraded with Western-style avionics, which includes a new radar system that is compatible with modern weapons.
“[It] has got better weapons system, better air-to-air missiles,” Dhanoa pointed out, as quoted by the National Interest.
“We fight with all the aircraft in our inventory.”
The author of the National Interest piece, David Axe, said the main reason for the use of the MiG-21 was due to the fact they have a large number of these warplanes in their inventory.
According to Axe, India has struggled for years to replace their old fleet of Russian-made jets, which is likely another reason why more modern warplanes were not present during the dogfight.
Journalist David Cenciotti provided more details into why the Indian Air Force chose to use the MiG-21 in his piece for The Aviationist:
“The MiG-21 that was shot down on Feb. 27, 2019 was part of a formation of eight Indian fighters which included four Sukhoi 30s, two upgraded Mirage 2000s and two MiG-21 Bisons that were dispatched to engage a package of 24 [Pakistani air force] jets that included eight F-16s, four Mirage III aircraft, four JF-17 Thunders.”
During the dogfight on February 27th, the two MiG-21 Bisons were later shot down by the JF-17 Thunders, resulting in the death of one Indian pilot and the capture of another one.
Pakistan would later release the Indian pilot in a sign of good faith and to ease tensions between the two neighbors.