India Deploys MiG-29 Fighter Jets in Srinagar for Enhanced Border Security
India Deploys MiG-29 Fighter Jets in Srinagar for Enhanced Border Security

SRINAGAR: India has deployed MiG-29 fighter jets in Srinagar as part of its efforts to enhance border security. On August 12th, the Indian authorities replaced the existing MiG-21 fighter jets with MiG-29s at the Srinagar air base. This strategic move is aimed at addressing potential threats from both Pakistan and China. The renowned Tridents squadron, also recognized as the 'Defender of the North,' has taken over from the MiG-21 squadron stationed at the Srinagar air base. Historically, this base has been responsible for safeguarding the nation's borders against threats from neighboring countries.

The MiG-29s were relocated to the Srinagar air base in January of this year. Since then, they have been actively conducting operations in the Kashmir valley and the Ladakh sector. In this capacity, they are positioned to be among the first responders to any attempts at airspace violations by China. Following the Galwan clash in 2020, the MiG-29s became the primary aircraft deployed in the Ladakh sector to counter potential threats from the Chinese side. Their presence has successfully deterred several such attempts.

A Comparison between MiG-29 and MiG-21:
The MiG-29s offer numerous advantages over the MiG-21s, which had previously played a pivotal role in defending the Kashmir valley region and even downing an F-16 aircraft in 2019 after the Balakot air strikes on Pakistani terrorist camps. The upgraded MiG-29s have been equipped with advanced long-range air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground weaponry. These enhancements allow them to operate during nighttime using night vision goggles, and they also boast extended operational ranges through air-to-air refueling capabilities. Moreover, the upgraded MiG-29s have been armed with potent weaponry, utilizing emergency procurement powers granted to the armed forces by the government.

Recent Developments:
Earlier in May, the Indian Air Force (IAF) temporarily grounded its entire fleet of MiG-21 fighter aircraft to conduct checks and investigate the causes behind a crash over Rajasthan. This tragic incident claimed the lives of three individuals when a MiG-21 Bison aircraft, airborne from the Suratgarh air base, crashed in a village near Hanumangarh on May 8th. Subsequently, in July, reports emerged stating that India is planning to retire all its Soviet-era Russian fighter jets, including the MiG-21, by the year 2025.

Over the past 20 months, the Indian Air Force has experienced the loss of six MiG-21s in crashes, resulting in the unfortunate deaths of five pilots. Despite having once served as a cornerstone of the IAF fleet, the MiG-21, a single-engine multirole fighter/ground attack aircraft of Soviet origin, is gradually being phased out in favor of more modern and advanced alternatives.

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