28th of December 2017 witnessed the last MiG-27 ML aircraft roar over Hasimara Air Force base as the Indian Air Force bid adieu to this legacy fleet in a function to mark the last flying. NATO code named FLOGGER and named BAHADUR in India; the aircraft boasts being the single most powerful engine in the world and has the peculiarity of variable geometry wing which means, the pilot while flying can change the wing sweep angle as per the mission requirements so as to achieve optimum flying characteristics.This swing wing fighter bomber of Russian origin was inducted into the IAF in the late 1980’s.
Being a dedicated ground attack aircraft,it was one of the main strike aircraft of the Indian Air Force. With its sophisticated avionics and weapon computers, it was capable of delivering a variety of loads in different modes of attack with immense precision. Being a very stable weapon platform with good forward visibility and all around view, it could drop bombs, rockets, precision munitions guided by TV/laser and also fire Air to Air Missiles for self defence thus making it a lethal and a potent weapon platform.
Being a formidable strike aircraft, MiG-27 ML has had an impeccable track record in its more than three decades of glorious service to the nation. Time and again she has proved her worth in various operations including Kargil and earned rich accolades in numerous international exercises held in India. The pilots who proudly call themselves SWING WINGERS have always vouched the aircraft’s precise weapon delivery and rapid acceleration. Though the last MLs retire, they are not the last swing wing aircraft in service as few of them got a midlife avionics upgrade and continue to serve the nation. They are called MiG-27 UPG and are presently based in Jodhpur.
22 Squadron, known as SWIFTS is the last Squadron of the Indian Air Force flying the MiG-27 MLs. The Squadron has a rich history and is known for undertaking the famous Boyra Day Operations in the Gnat aircraft, marking the beginning of 1971 war. One of the youngest fighter Squadron, it converted onto the MLs in February 1990. The lethal MiG-27 aircraft, with its range, speed and ferocity in attack has always been in perfect harmony with the ‘SWIFTS’ who on a very emotional note said good bye to the mighty BAHADURS with full military honours. Recently the Squadron celebrated its Golden Jubilee where in rich tributes were paid to the aircraft’s magnificent service to the nation. The Squadron is presently being commanded By Group Captain S L Mahajan who after a stint in Sukhoi-30 MKI, is back again in the Bahadur cockpit, proudly leading the last MLs. As the roar of the MLs still echo in their ears, the pilots are slated to move to other squadrons/appointments and the squadron gets number plated awaiting new induction.