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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbed/Mongol

Role: interceptor, dual-role fighter, multi-role fighter
Builder: Mikoyan-Gurevich, Xian Aircraft (Shenyang, China)
Variants: MiG-21F (Fishbed-C), MiG-21PF (Fishbed-D), MiG-21PFS (Fishbed-E), MiG-21PFM (Fishbed-F), MiG-21M/S/R/RF (Fishbed-H), MiG-21PFMA/MF (Fishbed-J), MiG-21SMT/SMB (Fishbed-K), MiG-21bis-A (Fishbed-L), MiG-21bis-B (Fishbed-N), MiG-21U (Mongol-A), MiG-21US/UM (Mongol-B), MiG-21-93, J-7 (F-7), J-7 II (F-7B), J-7 III, F-7M, F-7P
Operators: Russia, Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Azerbiajan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burma, Cambodia, China, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, East-Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gunea , Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Lybia, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Niger, North Korea, North Yemen, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe

The MiG-21 was a clear-weather interceptor with two underwing pylons for air-to-air missiles and improved version featured a gun pod on the centre line. Because of its small size it has a limited fuel and weapon carrying equipment and therefor a limited action radius. It is a fast, relatively agile and has superb acceleration and rate of climb, making it a dangerous adversary for most aircraft in its time. The aircraft design features mid-mounted delta wings, a long tubular fuselage, swept back tail section and a round intake in the nose with a nose-cone and one turbojet. The aircraft was NATO codenamed Fishbed and was exported to China which started its own production, producing the J-7 types (F-7 for export)

Second generation Fishbeds were equipped with Jay Bird radar, internal cannon and two additional wing hardpoints for air-to-surface weapons, making it a dual-role fighter. There are also variants with dual controls and a tandem two-seat cockpit, used for training, these types have a designation starting with U and are NATO codenamed Mongol. (see picture -->)

Over 15 variants were developed and more than 8000 aircraft were produced. Pakistan is still taking delivery of improved versions of the F-7, produced by China, to replace its ageing Chinese F-6 aircraft (basically an improved version of the MiG-19). The MiG-21-93 is one of the latest upgrades for the Fishbed, especially Indian MiG-21s are or will be upgraded to this version. Also IAI introduced an upgrade package, called the MiG-21-2000, Elbit refurbished and updated Romanian MiG-21s tot the MiG-21 Lancer standard. Most of todays operators would rather like to retire the aircraft instead of upgrading it, but they simply can not afford to buy new aircraft, because of enormous financial cut-backs since the end of the Cold War. Still most nations continue to fly the outdated variants because even the upgrade program is a too expensive option. Therefore safety issues arises and more and more aircraft are scrapped for spares.

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