Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19S Farmer-D M-Listings Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F Fishbed-C

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis “Fishbed-L”
Soviet single-engine single-seat supersonic jet fighter.

Archive Photos ¹

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis Fishbed-L (24+53) on display (8/21/2008) at the Förderverein des Luftwaffenmuseums der Bundeswehr e.V., Bundesgeschäftsstelle, Berlin, Germany (Photos by John Shupek copyright © 2008 Skytamer Images)

Overview ²

  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”
  • Role: Fighter
  • Manufacturer: Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB
  • Designer: Artem Mikoyan
  • First flight: 14 February 1955 (Ye-2)
  • Introduction: 1959 (MiG-21F)
  • Retired: 1990s (Russia)
  • Status: In active service with other Air Forces
  • Primary users: Soviet Air Force; Yugoslavian Air Force; Polish Air Force; Indian Air Force; Romanian Air Force
  • Produced: 1959 (Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F) to 1985 (Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis)
  • Number built: 11,496 (10,645 produced in the USSR, 194 in Czechoslovakia, 657 in India)
  • Variants: Chengdu J-7

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” (NATO reporting name: “Fishbed”) is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed “balalaika”, from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or olówek (English: pencil) by Polish pilots due to the shape of its fuselage.

Early versions are considered second-generation jet fighters, while later versions are considered to be third-generation jet fighters. Some fifty countries over four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations a half-century after its maiden flight. The fighter made aviation records. At least by name, it is the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history and the most-produced combat aircraft since the Korean War, and it had the longest production run of a combat aircraft (1959 to 1985 over all variants).

Development ²


the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” jet fighter was a continuation of Soviet jet fighters, starting with the subsonic Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 “Fagot”and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 “Fresco”, and the supersonic Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 “Farmer”. A number of experimental Mach 2 Soviet designs were based on nose intakes with either swept-Back wings, such as the Sukhoi Su-7 “Fitter”, or tailed deltas, of which the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” would be the most successful.

Development of what would become the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” began in the early 1950's, when Mikoyan OKB finished a preliminary design study for a prototype designated Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-1 in 1954. This project was very quickly reworked when it was determined that the planned engine was underpowered; the redesign led to the second prototype, the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-2. Both these and other early prototypes featured swept wings-the first prototype with delta wings as found on production variants was the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-4. The Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-4 made its maiden flight on 16 June 1955 and made its first public appearance during the Soviet Aviation Day display at Moscow's Tushino airfield in July 1956.

In the West, due to the lack of available information, early details of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” often were confused with those of similar Soviet fighters of the era. In one instance, Jane's All the World's Aircraft 19601961 listed the "“Fishbed”" as a Sukhoi design and used an illustration of the Su-9 “Fishpot”.


The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” was the first successful Soviet aircraft combining fighter and interceptor characteristics in a single aircraft. It was a lightweight fighter, achieving Mach 2 with a relatively low-powered afterburning turbojet, and is thus comparable to the American Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter” and Northrop F-5 “Freedom Fighter” and the French Dassault “Mirage III”. Its basic layout was used for numerous other Soviet designs; delta-winged aircraft included Sukhoi Su-9 “Fishpot” interceptor and the fast Mikoyan-Gurevich E-150 prototype from MiG bureau while the mass-produced successful front fighter Sukhoi Su-7 “Fitter&rdqui; and Mikoyan-Gurevich's I-75 experimental interceptor combined a similar fuselage shape with swept-Back wings. However, the characteristic layout with the shock cone and front air intake did not see widespread use outside the USSR and finally proved to have limited development potential, mainly because of the very small space available for the radar.

Like many aircraft designed as interceptors, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” had a short range. This was not helped by a design defect where the center of gravity shifted rearwards once two-thirds of the fuel had been used. This had the effect of making the plane uncontrollable, resulting in an endurance of only 45 minutes in clean condition. The issue of the short endurance and low fuel capacity of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F, PF, PFM, S/SM and M/MF variants-though each had a somewhat greater fuel capacity than its predecessor-led to the development of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MT and MiG-21SMT variants. These had a range increase of 250 km (155 mi) compared to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21SM “Fishbeds”, but at the cost of worsening all other performance figures, such as a lower service ceiling and slower time to altitude.

The delta wing, while excellent for a fast-climbing interceptor, meant any form of turning combat led to a rapid loss of speed. However, the light loading of the aircraft could mean that a climb rate of 235 m/s (46,250 ft/min) was possible with a combat-loaded MiG-21bis, not far short of the performance of the later General Dynamics F-16A “Fighting Falcon”. Given a skilled pilot and capable missiles, it could give a good account of itself against contemporary fighters. Its g-limits were increased from +7g's in initial variants to +8.5g in the latest variants. It was replaced by the newer variable-geometry Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 “Flogger” and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-27 “Flogger-D” series for ground support duties. However, not until the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 “Fulcrum” would the Soviet Union ultimately replace the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” as a maneuvering dogfighter to counter new American air superiority types.

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” was exported widely and continues to be used. The aircraft's simple controls, engine, weapons, and avionics were typical of Soviet-era military designs. The use of a tail with the delta wing aids stability and control at the extremes of the flight envelope, enhancing safety for lower-skilled pilots; this in turn enhanced its marketability in exports to developing countries with limited training programs and restricted pilot pools. While technologically inferior to the more advanced fighters it often faced, low production and maintenance costs made it a favorite of nations buying Eastern Bloc military hardware. Several Russian, Israeli and Romanian firms have begun to offer upgrade packages to MiG-21 “Fishbed” operators, designed to bring the aircraft up to a modern standard, with greatly upgraded avionics and armaments.


A total of 10,645 aircraft were built in the USSR. They were produced in three factories: GAZ 30 (3,203 aircraft) in Moscow (also known as Znamya Truda), GAZ 21 (5,765 aircraft)in Gorky and at GAZ 31 (1,678 aircraft) in Tbilisi. Generally, Gorky built single-seaters for the Soviet forces. Moscow built single-seaters for export and Tbilisi manufactured the twin-seaters both for export and for the USSR, though there were exceptions. The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21R and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis for export and for the USSR were built in Gorky, 17 single-seaters were built in Tbilisi (Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F), the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF was first built in Moscow and then Gorky, and the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21U was built in Moscow as well as in Tbilisi.


  • 83 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F
  • 513 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F-13
  • 525 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF
  • 233 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFL
  • 944 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFS/PFM
  • 448 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21R
  • 145 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21S/SN
  • 349 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21SM
  • 281 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21SMT
  • 2013 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis
  • 231 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21U (all export units)
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF (all export units)
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21FL (all units not built by HAL)
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21M (all)
  • 15 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MT (all)

  • 17 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 and MiG-21F
  • 181 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21U izdeliye 66-400 and 66-600 (1962-1966)
  • 347 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21US (1966-1970)
  • 1,133 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21UM (1971 to end)

A total of 194 MiG-21F-13's were built under licence in Czechoslovakia, and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. of India built 657 MiG-21FL, MiG-21M and MiG-21bis (of which 225 were bis)

Design ²

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” has a delta wing. The sweep angle on the leading edge is 57° with a TsAGI S-12 airfoil. The angle of incidence is 0° while the dihedral angle is -2°. On the trailing edge there are ailerons with an area of 1.18 m², and flaps with an area of 1.87 m². In front of the ailerons there are small wing fences.

The fuselage is semi-monocoque with an elliptical profile and a maximum width of 1.24 m (4 ft 1 in). The air flow to the engine is regulated by a cone in the air intake. On early model Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”, the intake cone has three positions. For speeds up to Mach 1.5 the cone is fully retracted to the maximum aft position. For speeds between Mach 1.5 and Mach 1.9 the cone moves to the middle position. For speeds higher than Mach 1.9 the cone moves to the maximum forward position. On the later model Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF “Fishbed-D”, the intake cone moves to a position based on the actual speed. The cone position for a given speed is calculated by the UVD-2M system using air pressures from in front and behind the compressor of the engine. On both sides of the nose there are gills to supply the engine with more air while on the ground and during takeoff. In the first variant of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”, the pitot tube is attached to the bottom of the nose. After the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21P variant, this tube is attached to the top of the air intake.

The cabin is pressurized and air conditioned. On variants prior to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFM, the cabin canopy is hinged at the front. When ejecting, the SK-1 ejection seat connects with the canopy to make a capsule that encloses the pilot. The capsule protects the pilot from the high speed airflow encountered during high speed ejections. After ejection, the capsule opens to allow the pilot to parachute to the ground. However, ejecting at low altitudes can cause the canopy to take too long to separate. Some pilots have been killed after ejecting at low altitudes. On the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFM, the canopy is hinged on the right side of the cockpit.

On the under side of the aircraft there are three air brakes, two at the front and one at the Back. The front air brakes have an area of 0.76 m², and a deflection angle of 35°. The Back air brake has an area of 0.46 m² and a deflection angle of 40°. The Back air brake is blocked if the airplane carries an external fuel tank. Behind the air brakes are the bays for the main landing gear. Also on the under side of the airplane, just behind the trailing edge of the wing are attachment points for two JATO rockets. The front section of the fuselage ends at former #28. The Back section of the fuselage starts at former #28a and is removable for engine maintenance.

The empennage of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” consists of a vertical stabilizer, a stabilator and a small fin on the bottom of the tail to improve yaw control. The vertical stabilizer has a sweep angle of 60° and an area of 5.32 m² (on earlier version 3.8 m²) and a rudder. The stabilator has a sweep angle of 57°, an area of 3.94 m² and a span of 2.6 m.

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” uses a tricycle type undercarriage. On most variants the main landing gear uses tires that are 800 mm in diameter and 200 mm in width. Only the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F “Fishbed-C” variants use tires with the size 660x200 mm. The wheels of the main landing gear retract into the fuselage after rotating 87° and the shock absorbers retract into the wing. The nose gear retracts forward into the fuselage under the radar.

Operational History ²


In 1961, the Indian Air Force (IAF) opted to purchase the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” over several other Western competitors. As part of the deal, the Soviet Union offered India full transfer of technology and rights for local assembly. In 1964, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” became the first supersonic fighter jet to enter service with the IAF. Due to limited induction numbers and lack of pilot training, the IAF MiG-21 “Fishbed” played a limited role in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. However, the IAF gained valuable experience while operating the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” for defensive sorties during the war. The positive feedBack from IAF pilots during the 1965 war prompted India to place more orders for the fighter jet and also invest heavily in building the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” maintenance infrastructure and pilot training programs. By 1969, India had acquired more than 120 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” from the Soviet Union.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

The expansion of IAF Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” fleet marked a growing India-Soviet Union military partnership which enabled India to field a formidable air force to counter Chinese and Pakistani threats. The capabilities of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” were put to the test during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. During the war, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” played a crucial role in giving the IAF air superiority over vital points and areas in the western theater of the conflict.

The 1971 war witnessed the first supersonic air combat in the subcontinent when an Indian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21FL “Fishbed-D&rdquo fighter claimed a PAF Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter” with its GSh-23 twin-barrelled 23 mm cannon. By the time the hostilities came to an end, the IAF Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” had claimed four PAF Lockheed F-104 “Starfighters”, two PAF F.6, one PAF North American F-86 “Sabre” and one PAF Lockheed C-130 “Hercules”. According to one Western military analyst, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” had clearly “won” the much anticipated air combat between the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” and the Lockheed F-104 “Starfighters”.

Because of the formidable performance of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”, several nations, including Iraq, approached India for Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” pilot training. By the early 1970's, more than 120 Iraqi pilots were being trained by the Indian Air Force.

Kargil War and Atlantique Incident

It was also used as late as 1999 in the Kargil War, in which one Indian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” was shot down. The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed's” last known kill took place in 1999 during the Atlantique Incident, when two MiG-21 “Fishbed” fighters of the Indian Air Force intercepted and shot down an Breguet “Atlantique” reconnaissance aircraft of the Pakistani Navy with the R-60MK (AA-8 “Aphid”) air-to-air missile.

India-Pakistan Conflicts: Confirmed MiG-21 “Fishbed” Kills & Losses in Air-to-Air Combat

  • 4 September 1965: IAF MiG-21F-13 damaged a PAF F-86E
  • 4 December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL "C1111" piloted by FltLt Manbir Singh damaged a PAF Sabre F.6
  • 6 December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL piloted by FltLt Samar Bikram Shah downed a PAF F-6
  • 11 December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL downed IAF MiG-21FL
  • 12 December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL "C750" piloted by FltLt Bharat Bhushan Soni downed a PAF F-104A
  • 12 (17?) December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL piloted by FltLt Niraj Kukreja downed a PAF F-104A
  • 12 (17?) December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL piloted by SqnLdr Iqbal Singh Bindra downed a PAF F-104A
  • 16 December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL piloted by FltLt Samar Bikram Shah downed a PAF F-6
  • 17 December 1971: PAF F-86F piloted by FltLt Maqsood Amir downed an IAF MiG-21FL "C716"
  • 17 December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL piloted by A. K. Datta downed a PAF F-104A
  • 17 December 1971: IAF MiG-21FL piloted by Samar Bikram Shah damaged a PAF F-104A
  • 1997: IAF MiG-21bis damaged PAF AV
  • 10 August 1999: IAF MiG-21bis (45 Sqn) piloted by SqnLdr Prashant Kumar Bundela downed a PAF Br.1150 Atlantic


The Indonesian Air Force purchased 22 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”. In 1962, 20 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F-13's and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21U's were received during Operation Trikora in the Western New Guinea conflict. Indonesian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” never fought in any dogfight. Right after the U.S. Backed anti-communist forces took over the government, the entire Indonesian MiG-21 “Fishbed” fleet (also Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19) were delivered to the U.S. in exchange for Lockheed T-33, Sikorsky UH-34D, and later, Northrop F-5 and North American Rockwell OV-10 aircraft. The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG's then formed &ldquoRed Eagles”, a U.S. OPFOR squadron at Groom Lake.


As may be seen from its range figures, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” was designed for very short ground-controlled interception (GCI) missions. It became renowned for this type of mission in the skies over North Vietnam. The first Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” arrived directly from the Soviet Union by ship in April 1966. After being unloaded and assembled they were given to North Vietnam's oldest fighter unit, the 921st Fighter Regiment which was created on 3 February 1964 as a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 unit. Because the North Vietnamese Air Force's 923rd FR was newer and less experienced, they would continue to operate Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17's while the arrival of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19's (J6 versions) from Communist China in 1969 would create North Vietnam's only Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 unit, the 925th FR. On 3 February 1972, North Vietnam commissioned their fourth and last Fighter Regiment created during the war with the Republic of Vietnam, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFM (Type 94) equipped 927th Fighter Regiment.

Although 13 of North Vietnam's flying aces attained their status while flying the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” (cf. three in the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17) many North Vietnamese pilots preferred the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 because the high wing loading of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” made it relatively less maneuverable and the lighter framed canopy of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 gave better visibility. However, this is not the impression perceived by British author Roger Boniface when he interviewed Pham Ngoc Lan and ace Nguyen Nhât Chiêu (who scored victories flying both Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21). Pham Ngoc Lan told Boniface that “the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” was much faster, and it had two “ATOLL” missiles which were very accurate and reliable when fired between 1,000 and 1,200 yards.", and Chiêu asserted that "...for me personally I preferred the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” because it was superior in all specifications in climb, speed and armament. The “ATOLL” missile was very accurate and I scored four kills with the “ATOLL”. In general combat conditions I was always confident of a kill over a McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II&rdqui; when flying a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.”"

Although the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” lacked the long-range radar, missiles, and heavy bomb load of its contemporary multi-mission U.S. fighters, it proved a challenging adversary in the hands of experienced pilots, especially when used in high speed hit and run attacks under GCI control. Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” intercepts of Republic F-105 “Thunderchief” strike groups were effective in downing US aircraft or forcing them to jettison their bomb loads.

After a million sorties and nearly 1,000 US aircraft losses, Operation Rolling Thunder came to an end on 1 November 1968. A poor air-to-air combat loss-exchange ratios against the smaller, more agile enemy Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG's during the early part of the Vietnam War eventually led the USN to create their Navy Fighter Weapons School, also known as “Top Gun” at Miramar Naval Air Station on 3 March 1969. The USAF quickly followed with their own version, titled the Dissimilar Air Combat Training (sometimes referred to as “Red Flag”) program. These two programs employed the subsonic Douglas A-4 “Skyhawk” and the supersonic Northrop F-5 “Tiger II”, as well as the Mach 2.4-capable USAF Convair F-106 “Delta Dart”, which mimicked the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”. Over the course of the air war, between 3 April 1965 and 8 January 1973, each side would ultimately claim favorable kill ratios.

One MiG-21 “Fishbed” was shot down on 21 February 1972 by an U.S. Air Force F-4 “Phantom II” piloted by Major Lodge with Lt. Roger Locher as his RIO based at Udorn, Thailand. This was claimed to be the first ever U.S. Air Force MiG kill at night, and the first in four years at that time. The intercept occurred near the Fish's Mouth region of the Laos, North Vietnam border.

Two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were claimed shot down by U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” tail gunners; the only confirmed air-to-air kills made by the Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress”. The first aerial victory occurred on 18 December 1972, kill awarded to tail gunner SSgt Samuel Turner, who was awarded the Silver Star for his feat. The second air-to-air kill took place on 24 December 1972, kill awarded to A1C Albert E. Moore for downing a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” over the Thai Nguyen railroad yards. Both actions occurred during Operation LineBacker II (also known as the Christmas Bombings).

The biggest threat to North Vietnam during the war had always been the Strategic Air Command's Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress”. Hanoi's Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 “Fresco” and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 “Farmer” interceptors could not deal with those bombers at their flying altitude. In the summer of 1972 the NVAF was directed to train 12 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” pilots for the specific mission of attacking and shooting down Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” bombers; with two-thirds of those pilots specifically trained in the night attack. On 26 December 1972, just two days after Tail gunner Albert Moore downed his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”, a VPAF (North Vietnamese Air Force) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J” (number 5121) from the 921st Fighter Regiment, flown by Major Pham Tuân over Hanoi, North Vietnam claimed responsibility for the first aerial combat kill of a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” in aviation history. The Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” had been above Hanoi at over 30,000 feet (9,100 m) during Operation LineBacker II, when Major Tuân launched two Atoll missiles from 2 kilometers, claiming to have destroyed one of the bombers flying in the three plane formation. Other sources argue that his missiles failed to hit their mark, but as he was disengaging a Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” from a three-bomber cell in front of his target took a hit from a SAM, exploding in mid-air: this may have caused Tuan to think his missiles destroyed the target he had been aiming for.

The Vietnamese side also claims another kill to have taken place on 28 December 1972 by a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” from the 921st FR, this time flown by Vu Xuan Thieu. Thieu is said to perished in the explosion of a Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” hit by his own missiles, having approached the target too closely. In this case the Vietnamese version appears to be a complete fabrication: while one Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” kill was claimed by McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” fighters that night (this may have been Thief's MiG), no Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” bombers were lost to any cause on the date of the claimed kill.

Year-by-Year Kill Claims involving Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”

  • 1966: U.S. claimed six Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” destroyed; North Vietnam claimed seven McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II's” and 11 Republic F-105 “Thunderchiefs” shot down by Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”.

  • 1967: U.S. claimed 21 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” destroyed; North Vietnam claimed 17 Republic F-105 “Thunderchiefs”, 11 McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II's”, two McDonnell RF-101 “Voodoos”, one Douglas A-4 “Skyhawk”, one Vought F-8 “Crusader”, one Douglas EB-66 “Destroyer” and three unidentified types shot down by Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”.

  • 1968: U.S. claimed nine Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” destroyed; North Vietnam claimed 17 US aircraft shot down by Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”.

  • 1969: U.S. destroyed three Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”; one Ryan “Firebee” UAV destroyed by a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”.

  • 1970: U.S. destroyed two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”; North Vietnam claimed one McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II” and one Sikorsky CH-53 “Sea Stallion” helicopter shot down by Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”.

  • 1972: U.S. claimed 51 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” destroyed; North Vietnam claimed 53 US aircraft shot down by Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”, including two Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” bombers. Soviet General Fesenko, the main Soviet adviser to the North Vietnamese Air Force in 1972, recorded 34 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”, nine Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 “Frescos”, and nine Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 “Farmers” destroyed in 1972.

Egyptian-Syrian-Israeli Conflicts

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” was also used extensively in the Middle East conflicts of the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's by the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” first encountered Israeli “Mirage III's” on 14 November 1964, but it was not until 14 July 1966 that the first Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” was shot down. Another six Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were shot down by Israeli “Mirages” on 7 April 1967. the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” would also face McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II's” and Douglas A-4 “Skyhawks”, but was later outclassed by the more modern McDonnell Douglas F-15 “Eagle” and General Dynamics F-16 “Fighting Falcon”, which were acquired by Israel beginning in the mid-1970's.

During the opening attacks of the 1967 Six Day War, the Israeli Air Force struck Arab air forces in four attack waves. In the first wave, IDF aircraft claimed to have destroyed eight Egyptian aircraft in air-to-air combat, of which seven were Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”; Egypt claims 10 Israeli aircraft destroyed, four or five of which were scored by Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF “Fishbed-D's”. During the second wave the Israelis claimed four Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” downed in air-to-air combat, and the third wave resulted in two Syrian and one Iraqi Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” claimed destroyed in the air. The fourth wave destroyed some more Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” on the ground. Overall, the Egyptians lost around 100 out of about 110 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” they had, almost all on the ground; the Syrians lost 35 of 60 MiG-21F-13 “Fishbed-E's” and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF “Fishbed-D's&rdqwuo; in the air and on the ground.

Between the end of the Six Day War and the start of the War of Attrition, IDF Mirage fighters had six confirmed kills of Egyptian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”, in exchange for Egyptian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” scoring two confirmed and three probable kills against Israeli aircraft. During the War of Attrition itself, the Israelis claimed 56 confirmed kills against Egyptian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”, while Egyptian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” claimed 14 confirmed and 12 probable kills against IDF aircraft. During this same time period, from the end of the Six Day War to the end of the War of Attrition, the Israelis claimed a total of 25 Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” destroyed; the Syrians claimed three confirmed and four probable kills of Israel aircraft.

High losses to Egyptian aircraft and continuous bombing during the War of Attrition caused the Egyptians to ask the Soviet Union for help. In June 1970, Soviet pilots and SAM crews arrived with their equipment. On 22 June 1970, a Soviet pilot flying a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J” shot down an Israeli Douglas A-4E “Skyhawk”. After some more successful intercepts by Soviet pilots and another Israeli Douglas A-4 “Skyhawk” being shot down on 25 July, the Israelis decided to plan an ambush in response. On 30 July Israeli McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II's” lured Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” into an area where they were ambushed by Dassault “Mirages”. Asher Snir, flying a “Mirage IIICJ”, destroyed a Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”; Avihu Ben-Nun and Aviam Sela, both piloting McDonnell Douglas F-4E “Phantom II's”, each got a kill, and an unidentified pilot in another Dassault “Mirage” scored the fourth kill against the Soviet-flown Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”. Three Soviet pilots were killed and the Soviets were alarmed by the losses. However, Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” pilots and SAM crews destroyed a total of 21 Israeli aircraft, which helped to convince the Israelis to sign a cease fire agreement.

In September 1973, a large air battle erupted between the Syrians and the Israelis; the Israelis claimed a total of 12 Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” destroyed, while the Syrians claimed eight kills scored by Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” and admitted five losses.

During the Yom Kippur War, the Israelis claimed a total of 73 kills of Egyptian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”. Egypt claimed 27 kills of Israeli aircraft by its Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”, plus eight probables. However, according to most reliable sources, these were exaggerated claims as Israeli air-to-air combat losses for the entire war did not exceed five to eight.

On the Syrian front of the war, 6 October 1973 saw a flight of Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's” shoot down an IDF Douglas A-4E “Skyhawk” and a Dassault “Mirage IIICJ”while losing three of their own to Israeli IAI “Neshers”. On 7 October, Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's” downed two Israeli McDonnell Douglas F-4E “Phantom II's”, three Dassault “Mirage IIICJ's” and a Douglas A-4E “Skyhawk” while losing two of their MiGs to IAI “Neshers” and one to a McDonnell Douglas F-4E “Phantom II”, plus two to friendly SAM fire. Iraqi Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF “Fishbed-D's” also operated on this front, and on that same day destroyed two Douglas A-4E “Skyhawks” while losing one MiG. On 8 October 1973, Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFM “Fishbed-F's” downed three McDonnell Douglas F-4E “Phantom II's”, but six of their Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were lost. By the end of the war, Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” claimed a total of 30 confirmed kills against Israeli aircraft; 29 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were claimed as destroyed by the IDF.

Between the end of the Yom Kippur War and the start of the 1982 Lebanon War, the Israelis had received modern McDonnell Douglas F-15 “Eagles” and General Dynamics F-16 “Fighting Falcon&rdquo fighters, which were far superior to the old Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's”. According to the IDF, these new aircraft accounted for the destruction of 24 Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” over this time period, though the Syrians did claim five kills against IDF aircraft with their Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” armed with outdated K-13 missiles.

The 1982 Lebanon War started on 6 June 1982, and in the course of that war the IDF claimed to have destroyed about 45 Syrian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's”. The Syrians claimed two confirmed and 15 probable kills of Israeli aircraft. This air battle was the largest to occur since the Korean War.

Other Middle East Conflicts

Egypt would be shipped some American “Sidewinder” missiles, and these were fitted to their Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” and successfully used in combat against Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 “Floggers” during the brief Libyan-Egyptian War of July 1977.

Libya vs Egypt Conflicts: Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” in Air-to-Air Combat

  • 22 July 1977: LARAF Dassault “Mirage 5DE” downs EAF Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J”

  • 23 July 1977: EAF Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's” down 3 (or 4) LARAF Dassault “Mirage” + 1 LARAF Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23MS “Flogger-E”

  • 1979: EAF MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J” downs LARAF Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23MS “Flogger-D”

Iran-Iraq War

During the Iran-Iraq War, 23 Iraqi Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were shot down by Iranian Grumman F-14 “Tomcats”, confirmed by the Iranian, western and Iraqi sources and 29 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” by McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom II's”


Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” saw limited service during the 2011 Libyan civil war. On 15 March 2011, one Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis “Fishbed” and one Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21UM “Mongol-B” flown by defector Libyan air force pilots who joined the rebellion, flew from Ghardabiya AB (near Sirte) and landed at Benina airport to became part of the Free Libyan Air Force. On 17 March 2011, after it ran out of fuel, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21UM “Mongol-B” crashed after takeoff from Benina airport.

Syrian Civil War (2011-Ongoing)

Starting from the final week of July, the involvement of the Syrian Air Force in the Syrian civil war, dramatically increased with videos showing that SyAF Aero Vodochody L-39 “Albatros&rdqwuo; combat trainers, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 “Flogger” fixed wing fighter jets started bombing rebel held areas. Up to that point only helicopters, mostly Mil Mi-8 and Mil Mi-17 “Hip” were captured on videos on strike missions, while few jets used as reconnaissance aircraft. Abu ad Duhur Air Base, home of a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” regiment, became an important focus for the rebel forces to deny this new threat posed by the loyalist Air Force. The base was put under siege with mortar shelling and antiaircraft guns at the end of August.

On 30 August 2012, a Syrian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis “Fishbed” (s/n 2271) was shot down while taking off from Abu ad Duhur Air Base on a mission to provide air support for the loyalist forces. The aircraft was hit by the rebels' antiaircraft heavy machine gun fire while at low altitude and speed after the take off. The pilot ejected successfully, but was killed by the rebels. Eleven more were claimed to have been destroyed on the ground.

On 4 September 2012, another Syrian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis “Fishbed” (s/n 2280) crashed during a landing approach to Abu al-Dahur air base. Since the base was under siege by insurgent forces, the pilot tried a hazardous maneuver which led the pilot to lose control of the MiG. The pilot ejected at low altitude, but the parachute did not deploy on time and the pilot was killed.


Yugoslavia purchased its first batch of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” in 1962 from the Soviet Union. In the period from 1962 to the early 1980's Yugoslavia had purchased up to 216 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” in nine variants. From 1964 to 1992, about 80 aircraft had been lost in accidents. Yugoslav Air force units that operated MiG-21 “Fishbed” were the 204th fighter-aviation regiment at Batajnica Air Base (126th, 127th and 128th fighter-aviation squadrons), 117th fighter-aviation regiment at Željava Air Base (124th and 125th fighter-aviation squadron and 352nd recon squadron), 83rd fighter-aviation regiment at Slatina Air Base (123rd and 130th fighter aviation squadron), 185th fighter-bomber-aviation squadron (129th fighter-aviation squadron) at Pula and 129th training center at Batajnica air base.

During the early stages of the 19911995 Yugoslav wars the Yugoslav People's Army used Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” in a ground-attack role, while Croatian and Slovenian forces did not have air forces at the beginning of the war. Aircraft from air bases in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were relocated to air bases in Serbia. Detailed records show at least seven Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were shot down by AA defenses in Croatia and Bosnia. A Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” shot down an EC helicopter in 1992.

Croatia acquired three Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” in 1992 through defections by Croatian pilots serving with the JNA, two of which were lost in subsequent actions - one to Serbian air defenses, the other in a friendly fire accident. In 1993, Croatia purchased about 40 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” in violation of an arms embargo, but only about 20 of these entered service, while the rest were used for spare parts. Croatia used them alongside the sole remaining defector for ground attack missions in operations Flash (during which one was lost) and Storm. The only air-to-air action for Croatian MiG's was an attempt by two of them to intercept Soko J-22 “Oraos” of Republika Srpska Air Force on ground attack mission on 7 August 1995. After some maneuvering, both sides disengaged without firing.

Remaining Yugoslav Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were flown to Serbia by 1992 and continued their service in the newly created Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, 33 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were destroyed on the ground.


During the Cold War, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were supplied to many sub-Saharan African nations by the Soviets. The Cubans also flew their Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” in some of the conflicts.

One of the more notable uses of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” in combat occurred during the Angolan Civil War in the hands of the People's Air and Air Defence Force of Angola. Cuban Air Force pilots also flew Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” over Angola during the war. Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were used as fighter-bombers and most losses were due to ground fire. However, both Angolan and Cuban Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” often had encounters with South African Air Force Dassault “Mirages”. On 6 November 1981, Major Johann Rankin, flying a Dassault “Mirage F.1CZ”, scored the SAAF's first kill since the Korean War, downing the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J” of Lt. Danacio Valdez. On 5 October 1982, a SAAF “Mirage IIICZ” damaged a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J” with cannon fire, but the MiG managed to return to base safely. The SAAF acquired a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” from the Angolan Air Force No. 340 through defection and the aircraft currently resides on display at the South African Air Force Museum, Swartkops Air Force Base in Pretoria.

During the Ogaden War of 197778, American-supplied Ethiopian Northrop F-5A “Freedom Fighters” met Somalian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's” in combat several times. In one lopsided incident, two Northrop F-5A “Freedom Fighters” piloted by Israelis engaged four Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's” that were armed only with bombs. The pilots destroyed two and then watched as the two remaining Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” collided with each other while trying to avoid an AIM-9 “Sidewinder” fired by the Northrop F-5A Freedom “Fighter”. The Ethiopian Northrop F-5A “Freedom Fighters&rdaquo; claimed 10 Somali Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's” in return, Somali Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's” claimed four Ethiopian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF “Fishbed-J's”, three Northrop F-5E “Tiger II's”, one English Electric “Canberra” bomber and three Douglas DC-3's. Ironically, Ethiopia also received Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”. The Ethiopian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were used to bomb Somali forces in the final Ethiopian counter-attack.

There are also some other reports in the Eritrean\Ethiopian conflict of 1999. That Eritrean Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 “Fishbeds” shoot down two Ethiopian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds”, three Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 “Floggers”, and a Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot”.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” along with its Chinese copy (the F-7 “Skybolt&rdquo), flew ground sorties during the First and Second Congo Wars, sometimes being piloted by mercenaries.


Beginning in 1993, Russia did not offer spare parts for the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 “Flogger” and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 “Fulcrum” fighters for the Romanian Air Force. Initially, this was the context for the modernization of the Romanian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” with Elbit Systems, and because it was easier for the Romanians to maintain these fighter jets. A total of 110 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” were modernized under the “LanceR” designation. Today, only 48 “LanceR's” are operational for the RoAF. It can use both Western and Eastern armament such as the R-60M, R-73, “Magic 2”, or “Python III” missiles. They will be replaced by General Dynamics F-16 “Fighting Falcons” in the late 20 teens. However due to lack of funds the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed-LanceR” may fly for years longer.

Known MiG-21 Aces

Several pilots have attained ace status (five or more aerial victories/kills) while flying the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”. Nguyên Van Côc of the Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF; also referred to as the NVAF), who scored nine kills in Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” is regarded as the most successful. Twelve other VPAF pilots were credited with five or more aerial victories while flying the MiG-21: Pham Thanh Ngân, Nguyên Hông Nhi and Mai Van Cuòng (both eight kills); D´ng Ngoc Ngu (seven kills), Vu Ngoc Dinh, Nguyen Ngoc Do, Nguyen Nhât Chiêu, Lê Thanh Dao, Nguyen Dang Kinh, Nguyen Dúc Soát, and Nguyen Tiên Sâm (six kills each), and Nguyen Van Nghia (five kills). Col. Vadim Petrovich Shchbakov according to the 18th Report of the US government's “Task Force Russia”, achieved ace status with six kills in the Vietnam War while serving as a pilot instructor.

Additionally, three Syrian pilots are known to have attained ace status while flying the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed”. Syrian airmen: M. Mansour recorded five solo kills (with one additional probable), B. Hamshu scored five solo kills, and A. el-Gar tallied four solo and one shared kill, all three during the 19731974 engagements against Israel.

Due to the incomplete nature of available records, there are several pilots who have un-confirmed aerial victories (probable kills), which when confirmed would award them “Ace” Status: S. A. Razak of the Iraqi Air Force with four known kills scored during the Iran-Iraq War (until 1991; sometimes referred to as the Persian Gulf War), A. Wafai of the Egyptian Air Force with four known kills against Israel.

For specific information on kills scored by and against Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbeds” sorted by country see the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” operators section.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Variants ³

Development and Pre-Production - Generation Zero (1954-1956)

  • Ye-1 (1954)
    Preliminary swept-wing design around the Mikulin AM-5A non-reheated turbojet. Instead of building it, the design was quickly reworked into the Ye-2.

  • Ye-2 (1954; NATO: "Faceplate")
    Swept-wing prototype with Mikulin AM-9B reheated turbojet, armed with three NR-30 cannon, and could carry one UB-16-57 rocket pod. Fitted with RSIU-4 VHF radio, Uzel IFF interrogator, ARK-5 Amur automatic direction finder with RUP landing approach computer, MRP-48P Dyatel marker beacon receiver, SRO-2 Khrom IFF transponder, Sirena-2 RWR, SRD-1M Radal'-M radar range-finder linked to an ASP-5N computing gun sight. Ye-2 made its maiden flight on 14 February 1955, but program was abandoned when Mikulin RD-11 turbojet became available.

  • Ye-2A (1955; aka "MiG-23")
    Ye-2 design modified for RD-11 turbojet. Six built. Identical to Ye-5 except for wings: Ye-2A had swept wings. Fitted with RSIU-4V radio, ARK-5 ADF with RUP module, MRP-48P marker beacon receiver, Bariy-M IFF transponder, Sirena-2 RWR, SRD-1M Radal'-M radar range-finder with ASP-5N-V3 computing gun sight.

    • MiG-23 (1957; izdeliye 63)
      Ye-2A was assigned the production designation MiG-23. It was to be much like the prototype, but with SRD-5M Baza-6 radar range-finder and an SRO-2 Khrom IFF transponder, amongst other changes. Of twelve units planned for 1957, only five were built; these were powered by R11-300 turbojets (production version of RD-11) and had one (centerline) hardpoint to carry a 400-liter drop tank, a UB-16-57 rocket pod or a FAB-250 bomb. All work on this aircraft was ordered to be terminated in 1958, and the units built were reused for various special test programs.

  • YE-4 (1955)
    The first delta wing prototype of the MiG-21. Proof-of-concept testbed: used an existing production engine in a Ye-5 airframe.

  • Ye-50 (1956)
    Swept-wing, experimental high-altitude interceptor. Ye-2 airframe modified to fit Dushkin S-155 rocket motor. Design work started in 1954, first flight in 1956. Program terminated after crash of Ye-50/3 on 8 August 1957.

  • YE-50A (1956)
    Not to be confused with MiG-23 "Flogger." The Ye-50A was a refinement of the Ye-50; was to enter production and service with the designation "MiG-23U," but this didn't happen due to unavailability of the intended R11E-300 turbojet.

    • MiG-23U (1956) (izdeliye 64)
      U = Uskoritel ("Booster")
      This was to be production version of Ye-50A. Only one was completed due to continuing unavailability of the R11E-300 powerplant.

  • Ye-5 (1956; NATO: "Fishbed")
    Delta wing research prototype powered by Mikulin AM-11 turbojet. Some changes besides the engine were made from the Ye-4, including addition of a second hydraulic system. The initial designation was I-500.

  • MiG-21 (1956; izdeliye 65; NATO "Fishbed-A")
    The first series of fighters, production version of Ye-5. Five units built at Tbilisi, but not continued due to efforts having been redirected towards the more advanced Ye-6/MiG-21F. The aircraft that were built found work as test beds.

Initial Mass Production - Generation One (1957-1961)

  • Ye-6 (1957)
    Three pre-production versions of MiG-21F.

  • Ye-50P (1958)
    Rocket-boosted high-altitude interceptor project, terminated before construction.

  • MiG-21F (1959; izdeliye 72; NATO "Fishbed-C")
    F = Forsirovannyy ("uprated")
    Single-seat day fighter aircraft. It was the first production aircraft, with 93 machines being made (20 in 1959, 73 in 1960). The MiG-21F carried 2160 liters of fuel in six internal fuel tanks and was powered by an R11F-300 turbojet engine with 5740 kgf of thrust. The earliest units were fitted with one NR-30 and two NR-23 cannon, subsequent aircraft were armed with two 30-mm NR-30 cannons 60 shells each, it was also capable of carrying two bombs ranging from 50 to 500 kg each. Avionics included PUS-36D weapons sequencing module, R-800 communications radio, ASP-5NV-U1 computing gun sight, and SRD-5MN Baza-6 radar range-finder.

    • Ye-6/9 (1960)
      A production MiG-21F was modified in 1960 to test nuclear strike capability on the MiG-21 airframe.

  • Ye-6T (1958)
    Prototypes based on MiG-21F used for testing the Vympel K-13 (NATO: AA-2 'Atoll') missile system. The aircraft were later reused for other tests.

    • Ye-6T/1 ("Ye-66") (1959)
      Ye-6T/1 prototype, number 31 Red, was refitted with R11F2-300 engine to break the world speed record. "Ye-66" was a "fake" designation used on the documents submitted to the FAI; it was not the official designation. Konstantin Kokkinaki set a new world speed record on September 16, 1960 in this aircraft, reaching a top speed of 2499 km/h (1552 mph) on a 100 km closed course.

    • Ye-6T/1 ("Ye-66A")(1961)
      After setting a new world speed record, Ye-6T/1 "31 Red" was rebuilt again to try to set a new world altitude record. To this end it had a U-21 rocket booster added to a fairing in the tail, and kept the upgraded R11F2-300 turbojet. "Ye-66A" was a "fake" designation used on the documents submitted to the FAI; it was not the official designation. On April 28, 1961, Georgi Mosolov set the new altitude record at 34,714 m (113,891 ft), breaking the previous record set by an American pilot in an Lockheed F-104 Starfighter by 2899 m (9511 ft).

    • Ye-6T/2 (1961)
      Second prototype Ye-6T reused to test skid-type landing gear for use on dirt strips.

    • Ye-6T/3 (1961)
      Ye-6T with canards fitted, tested 1961-1962.

  • MiG-21P-13 (aka Ye-7) (1958)
    P = Perekhvatchik ("interceptor")
    13 = refers to K-13 missile system
    Two MiG-21 sans suffix (izdeliye 65) were converted to use K-13 missile system as part of a development project for an interceptor armed with the K-13 missile. Due to the MiG-21P-13 project lagging behind schedule, it was decided to produce the existing MiG-21F with the capability to use the K-13 missile system, resulting in the MiG-21F-13. The development continued, however, eventually resulting in the MiG-21PF.

  • MiG-21F-13 (1960; izdeliye 74; NATO "Fishbed-E")
    F = Forsirovannyy ("Uprated")
    13 = refers to K-13 missile system
    Short-range day fighter; the MiG-21F-13 was the first MiG-21 model to be produced in large numbers. Unlike the MiG-21F, the MiG-21F-13 had only one NR-30 cannon on the starboard side, with only 30 rounds; however, it added the capability to use the K-13 missile system, of which two could be carried on underwing hardpoints. On early-production MiG-21F-13's the launch rails were of the APU-28 type; later models had these replaced by APU-13 rails. The launch rails were removable, allowing the MiG-21F-13 to carry two UB-16-57 unguided rocket launchers, two S-24 rockets on PU-12-40 launch rails or two FAB-100/250/500 bombs or ZB-360 napalm tanks. The F-13 had further upgrades: an improved ASP-5ND optical gun sight and an upgraded SRD-5ND ranging radar. The MiG-21F-13 was also built under licence in China as the Chengdu J-7 or F-7 for export, as well as in Czechoslovakia as the Aero S-106, though the S-106 designation was not used for long; subsequently, the Czech-built units were referred to as "MiG-21F-13" just like the Soviet-built aircraft.

    • MiG-21FR
      Czechoslovak designation for MiG-21F and Aero S.106 (Czech-built MiG-21F) converted to carry reconnaissance pods.

    • MiG-21F-13R (1974):
      R = Razuznavatelen ("Reconnaissance")
      Bulgarian designation for MiG-21F-13 aircraft locally modified to carry an AFA-39 camera.

  • Ye-6V (1961; NATO "Fishbed-E")
    Experimental STOL version of MiG-21F-13 with JATO boosters.

Interceptors - Generation Two (1961-1966)

  • MiG-21PF (1961; izdeliye 76; NATO "Fishbed-D")
    P = Perekhvatchik ("Interceptor")
    F = Forsirovannyy ("Uprated")
    Production version of the all-weather interceptor. These were powered by the R11F2-300 turbojet and, starting with the seventh production batch, fitted with the RP-21 radar (the first six batches used the older TsD-30T radar (aka RP-9-21). Further, the weapons control system was modified from that of the F-13 to allow use of the RS-2US (aka K-5MS) beam-riding AAM in addition to the IR-seeking K-13.

    • MiG-21PF (1961; izdeliye 76A)
      Version for export to Warsaw Pact countries; only difference from domestic version was the IFF equipment.

    • MiG-21PFL (1966; izdeliye 76A)
      L = Lokator ("Radar")
      Version of MiG-21PF tailored to a Vietnamese requirement. The "L" designation may be short for lokator to reflect the different sensor suite in this version as compared to the standard PF.

    • MiG-21PFM (izdeliye 76A; NATO "Fishbed-F")
      M = Modifiziert ("Modernized")
      Not to be confused with the "real" MiG-21PFM which is izdeliye 94. This was an East German designation for MiG-21PF aircraft with upgraded RP-21 radars.

    • MiG-21RFM (izdeliye 76A)
      R = Lokator ("Radar")
      F = Forsaj ("Reheat")
      M = Modernizat ("Modernized")
      Romanian designation for the MiG-21PF.

    • MiG-21Ye
      Remote-controlled drones converted from MiG-21PF; also designated M-21.
      (M = mishen', "target").

  • MiG-21FL (1965; izdeliye 77)
    F = Forsazh ("Reheat")
    L = Lokator ("Radar")
    Export (Third world) model of the MiG-21PF. Downgraded from baseline MiG-21PF with older and less powerful R11F-300 engine, no provision for carrying RS-2US beam-riding missiles and a simplified, downgraded version of the RP-21 radar, designated R1L. Wide-chord fin and brake chute fairing at its base. Built under license in India as the Type 77.

  • Ye-7SPS (1961)
    SPS = Sduv Pogranichnovo Sloya ("Boundary Layer Blowing")
    Testbed to develop flap-blowing system, rebuilt from Ye-6V/2.

  • MiG-21PFS (1963; izdeliye 94; NATO "Fishbed-D/F")
    P = Perekhvatchik ("Interceptor")
    F = Forsirovannyy ("Uprated")
    S = Sduv Pogranichnovo Sloya ("Boundary Layer Blowing")
    Production version of Ye-7SPS.

    • MiG-21PFS (izdeliye 94; NATO "Fishbed-F")
      The first nine production batches of the MiG-21PFS were externally identical to the MiG-21PF but with blown flaps and brake chute fairing at the fin's base.

    • MiG-21PFS (izdeliye 94; NATO "Fishbed-F")
      From batch 10 to batch 19, the large-chord vertical stabilizer first seen on the MiG-21FL was introduced, but the aircraft retained the SK ejection seat and one-piece, forward-opening canopy of the MiG-21PF.

    • MiG-21PFS (izdeliye 94; NATO "Fishbed-F")
      From c/n 941314 onwards, MiG-21PFS aircraft had the wide-chord tail, a KM-1 ejection seat and a two-piece, sidewards-opening canopy.

  • Ye-7M
    Further development of the Ye-7SPS; prototype for MiG-21PFM.

  • MiG-21PFM (1964; izdeliye 94; NATO "Fishbed-F")
    P = Perekhvatchik ("Interceptor")
    F = Forsirovannyy ("Uprated")
    M = Modernizirovannyy ("Modernized")
    The production version of the Ye-7M was a modernized MiG-21PF, with an upgraded RP-21M radar, SRZO-2 Khrom-Nikkel IFF transponder and other changes in avionics. Further, later-production PFM's reintroduced cannon armament, in the form of the capability to carry a GSh-23 cannon and 200 rounds in an underbelly pod. Following tests in 1966, MiG-21PFM aircraft built after 1968 could carry the Kh-66 air-to-surface missile.

    • MiG-21PFM (1964; izdeliye 94A; NATO "Fishbed-F")
      Export version with a different IFF system and no capacity to carry S-24 rockets or ZB-62 napalm tanks.

    • MiG-21PFM (izdeliye 94N; NATO "Fishbed-F")
      Nuclear-capable version of MiG-21PFM.

    • MiG-21PFMA (izdeliye 94A)
      Polish designation of standard MiG-21PFM.

    • MiG-21PFMN (izdeliye 94N)
      Polish designation of nuclear-capable MiG-21PFM.

    • MiG-21RFMM (izdeliye 94A)
      R = Radar
      F = Forsaj ("Reheat")
      M = Modernizat ("Modernized")
      Romanian designation for the MiG-21PFM.

    • MiG-21SPS (izdeliye 94A; NATO "Fishbed-F")
      SPS = Sduv Pogranichnovo Sloya ("Boundary Layer Blowing")
      To avoid confusion with the local "MiG-21PFM" designation given to the modified MiG-21PF (izdeliye 76A), the East German air force redesignated the "real" MiG-21PFM of izdeliye 94A as "MiG-21SPS."

    • MiG-21SPS-K (izdeliye 94A; NATO "Fishbed-F")
      K = Kanone ("Cannon")
      East German designation for MiG-21PFM (Izd. 94A) aircraft wired for using cannon pods.

  • Ye-7R:
    Prototypes of the MiG-21R combat-capable reconnaissance aircraft derived from MiG-21PFS.

  • MiG-21R (1965; izdeliye 03/94R; NATO "Fishbed-H"):
    Initially designated izdeliye 03 to confuse outsiders, the MiG-21R's official "type" designation was izdeliye 94R. The first production unit was rolled out in early 1966 and production continued until 1971. For recce missions, the MiG-21R could carry a Type D daylight PHOTINT pod, a Type N nighttime PHOTINT pod, a Type R general-purpose ELINT pod or a Type T pod housing a TV system, making the MiG-21R one of the first Soviet recce aircraft to make use of ELINT equipment. Small changes were made throughout the production run. Early-production units had the R11F2S-300 turbojet, which was replaced in later machines by the R13-300 powerplant. In the air-to-air role, the MiG-21R could carry two RS-2US or R-3S AAM's, and in the strike role it could be loaded with two UB-16-57UM or UB-32 rocket pods, two S-24 heavy unguided rockets or two bombs of up to 500 kg weight (each).

    • MiG-21R (izdeliye 94RA; NATO "Fishbed-H")
      Export version of the MiG-21R, delivered with the Type D and Type R pods.

    • MiG-21RF (izdeliye 94RA; NATO "Fishbed-H")
      Egyptian designation for MiG-21R aircraft which had been locally modified by permanently mounting the cameras in a fairing under the nose.

    • MiG-21RF (izdeliye 96R; NATO "Fishbed-H")
      Not to be confused with the Egyptian local designation "MiG-21RF." This designation was used after some MiG-21R's were upgraded with R13-300 engines as in the MiG-21MF.

  • Ye-7S (1963)
    Tactical fighter prototype - a production MiG-21PF converted into an avionics testbed to test the Sapfir-21 fire-control radar.

  • MiG-21S (1964; izdeliye 95; NATO "Fishbed-J")
    S = Sapfir (referring to the Sapfir-21/RP-22 radar).
    The production version of the Ye-7S. This was fitted with the RP-22 radar (production version of the Sapfir-21 radar) working together with a ASP-PF-21 computing gun sight. The airframe was different from that of the MiG-21PFM by using the same saddle tank as in the MiG-21R. The MiG-21S had an R11F2S-300 powerplant and an AP-155 autopilot featuring a 'panic button' auto recovery system. The MiG-21S could carry the GP-9 cannon pod. It had four underwing hardpoints, with the two outboard pods being "wet", that is, they could carry drop tanks. It could carry all weapons that the MiG-21PFM could, with the addition of the R-3R (K-13R) missile, the semi-active radar homing variant of the K-13. MiG-21S was produced from 1965 to 1968 and delivered only to the Soviet air force.

  • MiG-21N (1965; izdeliye 95N; NATO "Fishbed-J")
    N = Nositel ("Carrier")
    Also known as MiG-21SN, this was a variation of the MiG-21S capable of delivering one RN-25 tactical nuclear weapon.

  • MiG-21PD (1966; izdeliye 23-31/92):
    PD = Podyomniye Dvigateli ("Lifting Engines")
    STOL technology demonstrator built out of a MiG-21PFM airframe.

Modernization - Generation Three (1968-1972)

  • MiG-21M (1968; izdeliye 96; NATO "Fishbed-J")
    M = Modernizirovannyy ("Modernized")
    Export variant of the MiG-21S with two major differences: the RP-22 radar of the MiG-21S was substituted with the older RP-21MA radar, and featured a built-in GSh-23L cannon instead of a cannon pod. In the air-to-air role it could only carry the R-3S IR-seeking AAM on its four pylons, as the SARH variant, the R-3R, was not cleared for export. The type was also licence-built in India, the first Indian-built example being delivered in February 1973.

    • MiG-21M (izdeliye 96A, NATO "Fishbed-J")
      Export variant for Warsaw Pact countries.

    • MiG-21MA (izdeliye 96A, NATO "Fishbed-J")
      The Czechoslovak Air Force redesignated its MiG-21M's that had been re-engine with the Tumanskiy R13-300 engine as "MiG-21MA," keeping the RP-21MA radar. Some of these were later re-equipped with the RP-22 radar - bringing it to MiG-21MF standard - and were then redesignated "MiG-21MF."

  • MiG-21I (1968; izdeliye 21-11; "Analog")
    I = Imitator ("Simulator")
    Testbed for the wing design of the Tu-144 (NATO "Charger") supersonic transport.

  • MiG-21K (1969; proposal)
    This was a proposed variant of the MiG-21 for a dedicated ground attack role; the Mikoyan proposal was withdrawn before phase two of the competition, which was eventually won by the Su-25.

  • MiG-21Sh (1969; izdeliye 21-32"; project)
    Sh = Shturmovik
    This was another ground-attack project that was a "fusion" of the MiG-21 and the MiG-27; it was referred to alternatively as MiG-21Sh and MiG-27Sh. Cancelled due to the MiG-23/27 offering higher performance.

  • MiG-21SM (1969; izdeliye 15/95M; NATO "Fishbed-J")
    S = Sapfir (referring to the Sapfir-21/RP-22 radar).
    M = Modernizirovannyy ("Modernized")
    Upgrade of the MiG-21S using the R13-300 engine and with a built-in GSh-23L cannon, as well as a considerably updated avionics package.

  • MiG-21MF (1970; izdeliye 96F; NATO "Fishbed-J")
    M = Modernizirovannyy ("Modernized")
    F = Forsirovannyy ("Uprated [engine]")
    Export version of the MiG-21SM, with RP-22 radar and R13-300 turbojet. The choice of weapons loads was increased with the addition of the R-60 (NATO: AA-8 "Aphid") and later the R-60M IR-seeking AAM. These were also licence-built in India by HAL as the Type 88.

    • MiG-21MFR (1995)
      R = Razuznavatelen ("Reconnaissance")
      Bulgarian local designation for MiG-21MF modified to carry recce pods after the retirement of the MiG-21F-13R.

    • MiG-21MF-75
      Unofficial designation used in Bulgaria, East Germany, Romania and Czechoslovakia to refer to MiG-21MF aircraft delivered with cockpit instrumentation identical to that in the MiG-21bis (the "75" refers to "1975", the year in which these entered production.)

    • MiG-21MFN
      Czech Air Force designation for MiG-21MF upgraded with NATO standard avionics.

  • MiG-21DF (1969)
    D = Dal'nomer ("Rangefinder")
    F = Forsirovannyy ("Uprated")
    A production MiG-21 (S or SM) refitted with R13F2-300 engine and Kvant radar range-finder for test purposes. Though testing revealed an improvement in manoeuvrability, this variant was not put into production.

  • MiG-21SMF (1970)
    S = Sapfir (referring to the Sapfir-21/RP-22 radar)
    M = Modernizirovannyy ("Modernized")
    F = Forsirovannyy ("Uprated [engine]")
    A testbed aircraft - a stock MiG-21SM refitted with the uprated R13F2-300 turbojet. Though a prototype for what would have been a new model, it never entered production.

  • MiG-21MT (1971; izdeliye 96T; NATO "Fishbed-J")
    M = Modernizirovannyy ("Modernized")
    T = Toplivo ("Fuel," referring to increased fuel capacity)
    This was a MiG-21MF with increased fuel capacity. Though designed for export, only 15 were built and none were exported.

  • MiG-21SMT (1971; izdeliye 50; NATO "Fishbed-K")
    S = Sapfir (referring to the Sapfir-21/RP-22 radar)
    M = Modernizirovannyy ("Modernized")
    T = Toplivo ("Fuel," referring to increased fuel capacity)
    A development of the MiG-21SM with increased fuel capacity. This variant is easily spotted thanks to its larger spine.

  • MiG-21ST (izdeliye 50)
    S = Sapfir (referring to the Sapfir-21/RP-22 radar)
    T = Toplivo ("Fuel," referring to increased fuel capacity)
    Due to the extreme unpopularity of the MiG-21SMT amongst Soviet pilots, most were rebuilt with the smaller saddle tank of the MiG-21bis after that type entered production in 1972. Following the conversion, they were redesignated MiG-21ST and were externally indistinguishable from the MiG-21bis.

  • MiG-21bis (1972; izdeliye 75; NATO "Fishbed-L/N"
    The ultimate development of the MiG-21, fitted with the Tumanskiy R25-300 turbojet engine and a great number of other advances over previous types. Those MiG-21bis for the Soviet PVO (Air Defence Force) were equipped with the Lazur GCI system (NATO: "Fishbed-L"), while those for the Soviet Air Force were fitted with the Polyot ILS system (NATO: "Fishbed-N").

    • MiG-21bis (izdeliye 75A; NATO "Fishbed-L")
      Lazur-equipped version with a slightly different avionics package exported to some Warsaw Pact countries. In Bulgaria and East Germany these were designated MiG-21bis-Lazur.

    • MiG-21bis (izdeliye 75B; NATO "Fishbed-N") Polyot-equipped version with a slightly different avionics package exported to some Warsaw Pact countries. In Bulgaria and East Germany these were designated MiG-21bis-SAU (SAU referring to Sistema Avtomaticheskovo Upravleniya = "Automatic Control System"). This variant was manufactured under licence by HAL in India from 1980 to 1987.

    • MiG-21bis-D
      D = Doraden ("Upgraded")
      Upgraded in 2003 for the Croatian Air force with some elements of the Lancer standard. Modernized for NATO interoperability including a Honeywell ILS (VOR/ILS and DME), a GPS receiver, a new IFF system and communications equipment from Rockwell Collins.

    • MiG-21bis/T
      T = Tiedusteluversio ("Reconnaissance Version")
      Finnish designation for MiG-21bis modified to carry reconnaissance pods.

Trainer Variants (1960-1968+)

  • Ye-6U (1960)
    Trainer prototype based on the Ye-6T.

    • "Ye-33" (1965)
      A Ye-6U prototype was used by two women, N. A. Prokhanova and Lydia Zaitseva to set Back-to-Back altitude records. Prokhanova set a record of 24,336 m (79,842 ft) - the highest any woman had ever gone - on May 22, 1965, and a month later, Zaitseva set an altitude record for sustained level flight, at 19,020 m (62,401 ft).

  • MiG-21U (1961; izdeliye 66-400; NATO "Mongol-A")
    U = Uchebnyy ("Training")
    Two-seat training version of the MiG-21F-13.

    • MiG-21U-400
      East German designation for MiG-21U aircraft of izdeliye 66-400.

  • MiG-21UR (1961; project)
    U = Uchebnyy ("Training")
    R = Razvedchik ("Reconnaissance")
    This was an unrealized project based on the Ye-6U in which the rear cockpit was transformed into an extensive camera bay.

  • MiG-21U (1965; izdeliye 66-600; NATO "Mongol-B")
    Essentially the same as the 66-400, but with the wide-chord vertical stabilizer as on the MiG-21PFM.

    • MiG-21U-600
      East German designation for MiG-21U aircraft of izdeliye 66-600.

  • MiG-21US (1966; izdeliye 68; NATO "Mongol-B")
    U = Uchebnyy ("Training")
    S = Sduv [Pogranichnovo Sloya] ("[Boundary Layer] Blowing")
    Two-seat training version; upgrade of MiG-21U 66-400 with blown flaps.

    • MiG-21US (1966; izdeliye 68A; NATO Mongol-B")
      Export version of MiG-21US with slightly modified avionics.

  • MiG-21UM (1968; izdeliye 69; NATO "Mongol-B")
    U = Uchebnyy ("Training")
    M = Modernizovannyy ("Modernized")
    Two-seat training version of the MiG-21MF. Type 69 Indian Air Force designation.

    • MiG-21UMD
      D = Doraden
      Croatian designation for four MiG-21UM upgraded for NATO interoperability, similarly to the MiG-21bis-D.

Upgrade Programs

  • MiG-21-93
    Russia now offers an upgrade package to bring late-model MiG-21s up to the MiG-21-93 standard. This package provides an upgrade of the avionics suite that includes installation of the Kopyo pulse-doppler radar, smaller version of N010 Zhuk airborne radar used by the MiG-29, which enables the aircraft to fire a greater range of modern weapons such as the beyond-visual-range Vympel R-77 air-to-air missile. The upgraded avionics also enhance the aircraft's survivability as well as its ability to engage enemy fighters. Other upgrade features include installation of a dual-screen HUD, helmet-mounted target designator, and advanced flight control systems.

  • MiG-21-2000
    Single-seat 21st century version for export buyers. Made by Israel Aerospace Industries.

  • MiG-21 LanceR
    Upgraded version for the Romanian Air Force done by Elbit Systems of Israel and Aerostar SA of Romania. The LanceR-A version is optimized for ground attack being able to deliver precision guided munitions of eastern and western origin as well as R-60, R-73 and Python III air to air missiles. The LanceR-B version is the trainer version and the LanceR-C version is the air superiority version featuring 2 LCD MFDs, helmet mounted sight and the Elta EL/M-2032 Air combat radar.

  • MiG-21 Bison
    Upgraded version for export, the Indian Air Force being the first customer. Equipped with the Phazotron Kopyo (Spear) airborne radar, which is capable of simultaneously tracking 8 targets and engaging 2 of them with semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles, such as the Vympel R-27. The radar also enable the fighter to deploy active radar homing air-to-air missiles such as the Vympel R-77 when an additional channel is incorporated. Russia has claimed that this version is equivalent to the early F-16. It performed well against F-15s and F-16s of the USAF during Indo-US joint air exercises.

  • MiG-21-97
    MiG-21-93 upgrade. MiG-21-93 re-engine with the Klimov RD-33 engine. The Russians have claimed that the evaluation at Ramenskoye Airport had shown that this version has beaten simulated F-16 in a mock dogfight with a score of 4:1.

Foreign-Built Variants

    China (PRC)
    Chinese-built variants of the MiG-21 are designated Chengdu J-7 and F-7 (for export). Only the initial version of the J-7 was a copy of a MiG-21 variant, namely the MiG-21F-13. Though an agreement had been reached between China and the USSR for licence production of the MiG-21 in China, political relations soured between the two countries, causing Soviet assistance to stop. This forced the Chinese to reverse-engineer parts of the handful of MiG-21F-13s supplied from the USSR, in order to make up for blueprints and documentation that had not yet been shipped over from the USSR at the time of the political rift. All subsequent development of the J-7 was indigenous to China and different from Soviet-made versions. The Guizhou JL-9 trainer, first flown in 2003, is also based on the MiG-21 airframe.

  • Czechoslovakia
    Between 1962 and 1972 the MiG-21F-13 version was manufactured under license by Aero Vodochody, in Czechoslovakia. Aero Vodochody (then Stredoceské strojírny, n.p.), built a total of 194 planes during this period, under the cover designation article Z-159. It followed the MiG-15 and MiG-19S built in Vodochody factory from the fifties to sixties. The sole locally-built version of the MiG-21F-13 differed externally from the Soviet-built examples by the solid dural sheet fairing behind the cockpit canopy, as opposed to the transparent one on the original Soviet MiG's. These machines were built for the Czechoslovak Air Force and also for export. The R13-300 engines were imported from the Soviet Union.

  • India
    The production of the MiG-21s in India under license by Hindustan Aeronautics in Nasik started with the MiG-21FL in 1966 in four phases starting with the assembly of CKD kits, moving on to subassemblies, parts, and finally advancing to production from scratch. 205 MiG-21FL's, designated Type 77 and nicknamed Trishul ("Trident), were built in India between 1966 and 1972; the first one built entirely from Indian-made components was delivered to the IAF on 19 October 1970, with the first Indian-made R11F2S-300 powerplant leaving the assembly line on 2 January 1969. In 1971 HAL production was switched to an improved version of the MiG-21M (izdeliye 96), which was designated Type 88 by HAL; as this variant was produced exclusively in India, no izdeliye designation is applicable. The first Type 88 MiG-21M was delivered to the IAF on 14 February 1973 and the last on 12 November 1981, with a total of 158 built. The last variant to be produced by HAL was the MiG-21bis. A total of 75 were built in 1977 from CKD kits, and a further 220 were built from scratch by 1984. Despite a series of crashes during the 1990s, the Indian Air Force has decided to upgrade about 125 of the MiG-21bis in its inventory to the MiG-21 "Bison" standard. These will serve the Indian Air Force until 2018.

Operators 4

Current Operators

This list does not include operators of Chinese copies / licensed manufactured versions known as the Chengdu J-7.

Azerbaijan - Azerbaijan Air Force:
Around 12 received from Ukraine. Five reportedly based at Kyurdamir; to be withdrawn following purchase of 48 MiG-29.

Angola - Angolan Air Force (FAPA-DAA):
First MiG-21s in Angola were 12 MiG-21MF delivered in March 1976 from the USSR, followed by 8 MiG-21F-13 and two MiG-21US with Soviet pilots. In 1980, 12 more MiG-21MF and two more MiG-21US were delivered to the AngAF, and four more MiG-21US and 12 MiG-21bis (izd. 75B) in 1983. None remained operational by 2007, but 18 MiG-21bis and 4 MiG-21UM are reportedly still on the Air Force's lists. Prior to 1993, MiG-21s served with the following units:

  • 9th Fighter Training Squadron (7 MiG-21US, 5 MiG-21UM)
  • 24th Air Instructional Regiment
  • 25th Air Combat Fighter Regiment
    • 11th Fighter Squadron (mix of MiG-21F-13, MiG-21MF, MiG-21bis)
    • 12th Fighter Squadron (MiG-21MF and/or MiG-21bis; replaced by MiG-23ML in 1987)
    • 13th Fighter Squadron (MiG-21MF and/or MiG-21bis; replaced by MiG-23ML in 1987)
  • 26th Air Combat Fighter Regiment
    • 14th Fighter Squadron
    • 15th Fighter Squadron
    • 16th Fighter Squadron

Little is known about the combat record of Angolan MiG-21s; only two air-to-air victories are known for certain. The first came on March 13, 1976, when a FAPA-DAA MiG-21MF destroyed an Air Congo Fokker F27, and the second on April 3, 1986, when a MiG-21MF (or bis) shot down a TAAG Lockheed L-100. Four Angolan MiG-21MF's are known to have been lost in air-to-air combat, all to the South African Air Force: The first three were claimed by Johann Rankin in a Mirage F.1CZ - one on November 6, 1981 and the other two (one reportedly only damaged) on October 5, 1982. A fourth was destroyed on December 5, 1985, by an SAAF Mirage F.1AZ.

Bulgaria - Bulgarian Air Force:
From 1963 to 1990 Bulgaria received: 224 MiG-21s. 36 remain in service. Bulgaria received 12 MiG-21F-13 in 1963; the surviving nine were converted to MiG-21F-13R standard as reconnaissance aircraft. The last six were retired in 1988 as life expired. 12 MiG-21PF were delivered in 1965; four were lost in accidents, the other eight were retired in 1991. 12 MiG-21PFM were received in 1965, followed by 32 more in 1977–1978 from Soviet surplus stock and two more in 1986; further, four MiG-21PFS were delivered from Soviet surplus; of the 46 MiG-21PFM and 4 MiG-21PFS, seven were lost in accidents and four were sold to Nigeria; the last active aircraft were withdrawn in 1992. Six MiG-21R were delivered in 1969 and retired in 1995. 15 MiG-21M were delivered in 1970 and retired in 1990. Twenty MiG-21MF were delivered in 1974–1975; seven were converted to MiG-21MFR standard in 1995; all withdrawn by 2000. Thirty MiG-21bis izdeliye 75B ("Fishbed-N") were delivered in 1983 and six more in 1985; Thirty-six MiG-21bis izdeliye 75A ("Fishbed-L") were delivered in 1990 from Soviet AF stocks. 12 MiG-21bis izd. 75B remain in service with 1st Sqn 3rd IAB. A single MiG-21U izd. 66-400 was delivered in 1966, and a single MiG-21US in 1969, followed by four more MiG-21US in 1970. 27 MiG-21UM were delivered between 1974 and 1982. A few of these remain operational after having gunsights and weapons pylons removed and being redesignated MiG-21UM-2. The following units operated MiG-21s in 1992:

  • 2 IAE/15 IAP (Ravnets) - MiG-21bis (izd. 75A), MiG-21UM
  • 3 IAE/15 IAP (Ravnets) - MiG-21bis (izd. 75A), MiG-21UM
  • 1 IAE/19 IAP (Graf Ignatievo) - MiG-21bis (izd. 75B)
  • 2 IAE/19 IAP (Graf Ignatievo) - MiG-21bis (izd. 75B)
  • 1 RAE/26 IAP (Dobrich) - MiG-21MFR
  • 12 Combat Training Regiment (Kamenets) - MiG-21PFM, MiG-21UM

  • As of 2007:
  • 1 Eskadrila/3 IAB (Graf Ignatievo) - 12 MiG-21bis (izd. 75B), 2 MiG-21UM-2
    • (IAB = Iztrebitelna Aviatsionna Baza - Fighter Air Base; IAE = Iztrebitelna Avioeskadrila - Fighter Squadron; IAP = Iztrebitelen Aviopolk - Fighter Regiment; RAE - Razuznavatelna Avioeskadrila - Reconnaissance Squadron)

Cambodia - Cambodian Air Force:
Nineteen second-hand MiG-21bis (izd. 75B) and three MiG-21UM delivered from the USSR in 1982, as well as three MiG-21UM from Bulgaria in the same year. There are plans to modernize these in Israel, but so far only one MiG-21bis and one MiG-21UM have been rebuilt to MiG-21-2000 standard and returned to Cambodia. MiG-21's (MiG-21bis, MiG-21UM) in service are assigned to "The Fighter Squadron" based at Phnom Penh.

Croatia - Croatian Air Force (HRZ):
Three MiG-21bis were taken up following defections of Croatian pilots from the Yugoslav Air Force; two of these were lost in combat. Forty MiG-21bis and MiG-21UM were bought from (former East) Germany in 1993, of which 16 and 4, respectively, were put into service, the rest used for parts. Eight MiG-21bis were upgraded to MiG-21bis-D standard and four MiG-21UM to MiG-21UMD standard in 2003 in Romania; these are currently in service. In 2003, MiG-21's were found with the following units (ZB = Zrakoplovna Baza - Air Base; ELZ - Eskadrila Lovackih Zrakoplova - Fighter Squadron):

  • 91 ZB/21 ELZ (Zagreb-Pleso)
  • 92 ZB/22 ELZ (Pula)

Currently, HRZ MiG-21s are with the 21 EBA (Eskadrila Borbenih Aviona = "Combat Aircraft Squadron") at Zagreb-Pleso and the 22 EBA at Pula.

Cuba - Cuban Air Force:
40 MiG-21F-13 and two MiG-21U were transferred to the Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria (DAAFAR) in 1962. At least one squadron of MiG-21PF was delivered in 1964, and either 24 or 36 MiG-21PFM were received in 1966–1967. Twelve MiG-21R were delivered in 1968. Sixty MiG-21MF were delivered between 1972 and 1974; some of these were sent to Angola. Eighty MiG-21bis (izd. 75A) were received from 1981. Five MiG-21U (izd. 66-600) were delivered in 1966, and 20 MiG-21UM were delivered starting in 1968. According to Cuban sources, altogether 270 MiG-21's of all variants were received by DAAFAR. 12 MiG-21bis and six MiG-21UM are still operational. In 1990, MiG-21's were known to be assigned to the following units:

  • 1a Brigada de Guardia "Batalla de Sta Clara"
    • 11o Regimiento de Caza (Santa Clara)
      • 111o Escuadrone
      • 112o Escuadrone
  • 2a Brigada de Guardia "Playa Girón"
    • 22o Regimiento de Caza (Baracoa)
      • 221o Escuadrone
      • 222o Escuadrone
  • 3a Brigada de Guardia "Cuartel Moncada"
    • 31o Regimiento de Caza (Camagüey)
      • 311o Escuadrone
      • 312o Escuadrone

    As of 2007, the assignments are as follows:

  • UM1724 Regimiento de Intercepción (Holguín)
    • UM3710 Escuadrone de Intercepción - 6 MiG-21bis, 3 MiG-21UM
  • UM1779 Regimiento de Caza (San Antonio de los Ba&ntide;os)
    • UM4748 Escuadrone de Intercepción - 6 MiG-21bis, 3 MiG-21UM
  • Escuela de Especialistas Menores "Yuri Gagarin" ("Yuri Gagarin" Junior Technical Specialists' School) (Ciudad Libertad) - 1 MiG-21bis

Egypt - Egyptian Air Force:
By 1967, Egypt had received 235 MiG-21 fighters (MiG-21F-13, MiG-21PF, MiG-21PFM) and 40 MiG-21U trainers. Almost all were destroyed in the Six Day War - no more than 10 of the 235 survived that war. 75 MiG-21PFS were supplied in 1970, followed by 12 MiG-21M, 110 MiG-21MF, 24 MiG-21US, and some MiG-21UM.; eighty Chinese J-7 were also received.] MiG-21 order of battle as of 2007:

  • 104th Fighter Brigade (El Mansoura)
    • 45 Squadron - MiG-21MF
    • 49 Squadron - MiG-21MF
  • ? Fighter Brigade (Aswan)
    • ? Squadron - MiG-21MF

Eritrea - Eritrean Air Force:
Old Ethiopian Air Force MIG-21 BIS aircraft are estimated to operate six.

Ethiopia - Ethiopian Air Force:
48 MiG-21MF and MiG-21UM received 1977–1978; more - reports range from 50 to 150 - were delivered in 1982-83. Thirty MiG-21bis (izd. 75A) delivered between 1986 and 1988. Eighteen are still in service, though Su-27 have replaced some. MiG-21 order of battle as of 2007 (total 18 fighters and 6 trainers):

  • 3rd Air Regiment (Dire Dawa)
  • ? Air Regiment (Debre Zeyit)

India - Indian Air Force:
India received its first MiG-21's in 1963, numbering 8 MiG-21F-13's. Two more F-13's and two MiG-21PF were received in 1964. The MiG-21FL was designed by Mikoyan to fulfill an Indian requirement, and this was the first version to be licence-built in India by HAL. The first 54 of these were built and test-flown in the USSR, then dismantled and shipped to India for reassembly; the first one built completely from scratch in India was handed over to the IAF in October 1970. All told, 205 MiG-21FL were built in India, of which 196 were built entirely in India; the last MiG-21FL's were retired in 2005. In 1971, 65 MiG-21M were delivered to India; licence production of an improved variant unique to India, designated MiG-21MF (Type 88), began in 1973 and lasted until 1981 - a total of 158 were built. It is important to keep in mind that the HAL MiG-21MF (Type 88) is not the same as the MiG-21MF (izdeliye 96) that was made in the USSR for export to other countries. Kits for 75 MiG-21bis izdeliye 75A were delivered in 1977, and by 1984, 220 more were built from scratch in India. Contracts were signed in 1996 to upgrade 125 MiG-21bis (plus an option for 50 more) in a service life extension program to extend their useful life to 2017; the first two were upgraded by Sokol in Russia, the remainder by HAL; 94 were completed by January 2006. This upgraded version was known originally as MiG-21UPG and finally as MiG-21 Bison. A total of 45 MiG-21U of both izdeliye 66-400 and 66-600 were delivered, including five bought from Ukraine in 1997. Seventy MiG-21UM were received, including some received from eastern Europe in the 1990's. Squadrons known to operate the MiG-21 Bison include:

  • 3 Sqn "Cobras"
  • 4 Sqn "Oorials"
  • 15 Sqn "Flying Lances"
  • 21 Sqn "Ankush"
  • 23 Sqn "Cheetahs"
  • 24 Sqn "Hunting Hawks"
  • 26 Sqn "Warriors"
  • 32 Sqn "Thunderbirds"
  • 35 Sqn "Rapiers"
  • 37 Sqn "Black Panthers"
  • 45 Sqn "Flying Daggers", and
  • 51 Sqn "Sword Arms".

Laos - Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force:
Thirteen MiG-21PFM and two MiG-21U were delivered in 1975, followed by ten MiG-21MF in 1985; none are now airworthy. There are reports of 20 MiG-21bis izdeliye 75A having been delivered in 1983, though there is now no trace of these, likely meaning they are also retired. A second batch of trainers, probably MiG-21UM, was also delivered.

Libya - Libyan Arab Air Force:
MiG-21 deliveries to Libya started in 1975 of 25 MiG-21UM trainers, followed by 50 MiG-21MF's; these were supposed to have been used to train and equip a proposed "Palestinian Air Force" once Israel had been occupied. This did not come to pass, and both types were used by the LAAF, though 30 of the MiG-21MF's were later sent to Syria in 1982. From 1980, 94 MiG-21bis (izdeliye 75A) were delivered. 33 of these were still in service in 2006 according to an Israeli intelligence report; presently, there is one squadron, the 1021st based at Gamal Abdel Nasser AB near Tobruk, still operating MiG-21bis fighters and MiG-21UM trainers.

Mali - Air Force of the Republic of Mali:
Twelve MiG-21bis izdeliye 75B fighters and two MiG-21UM were delivered from the USSR in 1974, and two MiG-21MF arrived in 2005 from the Czech Republic, along with another MiG-21UM. Only the three ex-Czech aircraft are still in service.

Madagascar - Tafika Anabakabaka:
Madagascar received eight MiG-21PFM and one MiG-21U from North Korea in 1978. There are some unconfirmed reports of MiG-21 deliveries prior to the proven delivery of 12 MiG-21bis izdeliye 75B and at least two MiG-21UM from the USSR. All MiG-21s were placed in storage by 2000.

Mongolia - Mongolian People's Air Force:
Received 44 aircraft in 1977–1984. 8-12 MiG-21PFM's and two trainers - MiG-21UM - have reportedly been carefully been put into storage at air base Nalaikh due to lack of funds and shortage of spares, though there have been no reports of their reactivation to date.

North Korea - Korean People's Army Air Force:
At least 200 MiG-21s, including 30 built in China, are generally accepted as having been delivered to the KPAAF. By 1966-67, 80 MiG-21F-13 were delivered, with the first 14 arriving in or before 1963. 65 MiG-21PFM were delivered 1968–1971 and 24 more in 1974. According to the US CIA, by 1977 there were a total of 120 MiG-21s in DPRK, but by 1983 this number had dropped to 50; 150 MiG-21PFM and MiG-21MF were reportedly delivered in 1985. In 1999, 38 MiG-21bis izdeliye 75A were delivered from Kyrgyzstan. According to one estimate, 150 MiG-21's are in service. 50 MiG-21 trainers of different variants were delivered, of which 30 are believed to be in service. As of 2007, units known to be operating MiG-21s are:

  • One squadron of 46th Air Regiment at Wonsan
  • Three squadrons of 56th Air Regiment at Toksan, flying J-7B, MiG-21PFM and MiG-21bis, but it is not known if the types are mixed or not.
  • One squadron of 60th Air Regiment at Pukch'ang
  • Three squadrons of 86th Air Regiment at Koksan flying MiG-21PF and MiG-21U
  • Three squadrons of an unidentified Air Regiment at Hwangju flying MiG-21PF and MiG-21U
  • An unidentified reconnaissance/electronic warfare regiment.

Though little is known about the North Korean air force, it is known that a KPAF MiG-21PFM shot down a US Army CH-47 helicopter on July 14, 1977. The KPAF also took part in the Vietnam War: A KPAF MiG-21 downed a USAF RF-4C on August 31, 1967; on January 14, 1968, another one shot down a USAF F-105D, and on February 12, 1968, a KPAF MiG-21 destroyed a USN F-4B.

Romania - Romanian Air Force:
24 MiG-21F-13 were delivered in 1962-63; they were withdrawn in 1976 but not officially written off until 1993. Deliveries of the MiG-21PF began in 1965, and a total of 38 were delivered; these were designated MiG-21RFM (Radar Fortaj Modernizat) in Romanian service. The survivors were grounded in the early 1990s and put into storage by 1999. The first MiG-21PFM's arrived in 1966. 29 of these were the standard izdeliye 94A, and 23 nuclear-capable variants (izdeliye 94N) were delivered as well. Both variants were designated MiG-21RFMM in Romanian service. The last of these were retired in 2002, replaced by MiG-21 Lancer A's. Eleven MiG-21R's, locally designated MiG-21C (Cercetare) were delivered in 1968, remaining in service until 1998. Starting in 1969, 60 MiG-21M were delivered, and a total of 71 MiG-21MF's were delivered starting in 1972. MiG-21M's formed the basis for the MiG-21 Lancer A upgrade, and MiG-21MF's were rebuilt into MiG-21 Lancer C's. A total of 73 Lancer A's and 26 Lancer C's were built, these are currently in service. In Romanian service, all variants of the two-seat trainer were designated MiG-21DC (Dubla Comanda). The first for were MiG-21U izdeliye 66-400 arriving in 1965, followed by three of izdeliye 66-600. From 1969, fourteen MiG-21US were delivered, and 31 MiG-21UM were delivered between 1972 and 1980, of which 14 were upgraded to the MiG-21 Lancer B standard. As of 2007, MiG-21 dispositions were as follows (EAvV = Escadrila Avioane Vânatoare - Fighter Squadron; EAS = Escadrila Aviatie Scoala - Aviation Training Squadron):

  • Baza 71 Aeriana (Câmpia Turzii)
    • 711 EAvV - Lancer A & B
    • 712 EAvV - Lancer B & C
  • Baza 86 Aeriana (Borcea)
    • 861 EAvV - Lancer B & C
    • 862 EAvV - Lancer A & B
  • Baza 95 Aeriana (Bacau)
    • 951 EAvV - Lancer A, B & C
    • 205 EAS - Lancer A & B

During the civil disturbances during the overthrow of the Nicolae Ceausescu regime, Romanian MiG-21s were quite active, mostly responding to "shadows" caused by (probably Soviet) electronic warfare. The only known air-to-air action of the period involved a Romanian AF MiG-21MF shooting down an IAR 330 helicopter of the Romanian Army.

Serbia - Serbian Air Force:
Inherited from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 2006. Possesses 31 MiG-21 aircraft, incl: MiG-21 bis, MiG-21UM and MiG-21M modified to carry reconnaissance pods.

  • 204th Air Brigade
    • 101st Fighter Aviation Squadron
    • 1st Reconnaissance Aviation

Syria - Syrian Air Force:
40 or 45 MiG-21F-13 were delivered around 1965 followed by 36 MiG-21PF's in 1966; six of the F-13's were lost in 1967 prior to the start of the Six Day War, and during the war itself, 32 of 60 F-13's and PF's were destroyed. These losses were covered by future deliveries from the USSR, as well as four MiG-21F-13's from Czechoslovakia and ten from Hungary. From 1968, 100 MiG-21PFM and MiG-21PFS were delivered, as were six MiG-21R's in the 1970's. Sixty-one MiG-21MF's were delivered between 1971 and 1973, but massive losses during the Yom Kippur War (180 Syrian fighters of all types were lost) resulted in the delivery of 75 more MF's from the USSR. During the Yom Kippur War, 12 MiG-21M's were bought from East Germany. A total of 54 MiG-21's and MiG-23's are estimated to have been lost by Syria during the 1982 Lebanon War; and subsequently 198 MiG-21bis were supplied by the USSR through the 1980's. About eight MiG-21U trainers were delivered in the 1960's, and 20 MiG-21UM's around 1973. As of 2007, eight squadrons still operated MiG-21bis aircraft, about 200 in total, namely 8 Sqn (MiG-21MF) at Deir ez-Zor, 12 Sqn (MiG-21MF) at Tabqa, 679 and 680 Sqns (all MiG-21MF) at Hama and 825, 826, 945 and 946 Sqns (all MiG-21bis) at Al Qusayr. Another source says there are 142 MiG-21 in service. The current (2008) order of battle is as follows:

  • 8 Sqn (Deir ez-Zor): MiG-21MF, MiG-21UM
  • 12 Sqn (Tabqa): MiG-21MF, MiG-21UM
  • 679 Sqn (Hama): MiG-21MF, MiG-21UM
  • 680 Sqn (Hama): MiG-21MF, MiG-21UM
  • 825 Sqn (Al Qusayr): MiG-21bis
  • ? Sqn (Dumayr): MiG-21
  • 945 Sqn (Khalkhalah): MiG-21bis
  • 946 Sqn (Khalkhalah): MiG-21bis

Uganda - Ugandan Air Force:
Up to 18 MiG-21MF fighters and three MiG-21U variants were delivered in the early 1970's. Seven were destroyed in the Israeli raid on Entebbe in 1976 and the rest were destroyed or captured by Tanzanian forces in 1979; the wreckage of many of these were still visible in Entebbe as late as 2003. In 1999, six MiG-21bis izdeliye 75A and one MiG-21UM arrived from Poland but were upgraded to MiG-21-2000 by Israel Aerospace Industries prior to delivery. One of these was lost in an accident, but the rest continue in service in what is called "The Combat Unit."

Vietnam - Vietnam People's Air Force:
The VPAF received the first of its 20 or 30 MiG-21F-13 fighters in 1965; 30 MiG-21PFL's, a special variant for Vietnam, were delivered in 1966 (some historians refer to this variant as MiG-21PFV (V = Vietnam), but this is denied by the MiG OKB); either 100 or 110 MiG-21PFM were delivered starting in 1968; sixty MiG-21MF were delivered around 1970; several batches of MiG-21bis izdeliye 75B were delivered starting in 1979, and 18 of izdeliye 75A were received second hand from Poland in 2005 (the 18 included a few MiG-21UM's). An unknown number of all variants of the MiG-21 trainers were delivered, but MiG-21UM's were the majority. In 1996, six UM's arrived from the Ukraine. Some reports suggest that as many as 180 MiG-21bis, plus at least 24 MiG-21UM's, are still in service. The order of battle of units operating MiG-21s in 2007 is as follows:

  • 307th Air Division
    • 929th Fighter Regiment (Da Nang)
    • 935th Fighter Regiment (Biên Hòa)
  • 371st Air Division
    • 921st Fighter Regiment (Hanoi)
    • 927th Fighter Regiment (Kep)
    • 931st Fighter Regiment (Yên Bái)
  • 372nd Air Division
    • 933rd Fighter Regiment (Kiên An)
  • Air Academy
    • 920th Fighter Regiment (Phù Cát)
    • 932nd Fighter Regiment (Phù Cát)

Yemen - Yemen Air Force:
Following the unification of North and South Yemen, the new YAF received the MiG-21's in service with the former Yemen Arab Republic Air Force and the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen Air Force. It is estimated that 21 MiG-21MF were available in 2006, though some reports cite as many as 60 fighters and 12 trainers. Still other reports claim the presence of MiG-21bis, but these are unsubstantiated. It is not known how many are still airworthy. MiG-21's are operational with 6 Sqn (MiG-21MF, MiG-21bis, MiG-21UM) at Al Hudaydah and 26 Sqn (MiG-21MF, MiG-21bis, MiG-21UM) at Ta'izz.

Zambia - Zambian Air Force & Air Defense Command:
The ZAFADC received 14 MiG-21bis (izdeliye 75A) fighters and two MiG-21UM trainers in 1976. The two trainers and eight surviving fighters were upgraded in Israel in 1997-98 and are now in service.

Former Operators

Afghanistan - Afghan Air Force:
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan Air Force received 40 MiG-21F-13 (izd. 74) in 1973, and from 1979, 70 MiG-21MF (izd. 96F), 50 MiG-21bis (izd. 75A and 75B) and 6 MiG-21UM (izd. 69A) were delivered. Small numbers of aircraft left behind by the Soviet Air Force after their withdrawal were taken up by the DRAAF, including MiG-21PFS (izd. 94A) and MiG-21PFM (izd. 94A). Following the overthrow of the communist government, the armies of some warlords operated MiG-21's. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Air Force was set up by the Taliban, and was known to have operated at least one MiG-21PFM, 8 MiG-21MF, 5 MiG-21bis, one MiG-21U (izd. 66-400) and three MiG-21UM. All are now out of service (derelict and/or destroyed). MiG-21's were operated by the following units in the late 1980s:

  • 322nd Fighter Regiment (FR) (Bagram)
    • 4 squadrons of 20 MiG-21MF/bis and 2 MiG-21UM each
  • 393rd FR (Mazar-e-Sharif)
    • 3 squadrons of 20 MiG-21MF/PFM/bis and 2 MiG-21UM each

MiG-21's saw combat during the civil war in 1994 and 1995, with Northern Alliance MiG-21's destroying one MiG-21, three Su-22's and one other fighter belonging to the Dostum–Gulbuddin Militia Air Force; the DGMAF is known to have destroyed one NA MiG-21, the kill scored by a Su-22. The Taliban's IEAAF MiG-21's are known to have shot down two Mi-8 helicopters of the Northern Alliance, while an NA MiG-21 is credited with a kill of an IEAFF Su-20. Four DRAAF MiG-21's are known to have been shot down by Pakistani F-6's and Mirage III's in 1986.

Algeria - Algerian Air Force (QJJ):
First received MiG-21F-13 starting in 1965, a total of 40 delivered; 31 were 'lent' to Egypt in 1967 for the Six Day War. Of these, six landed at an airbase just captured by the Israelis in the war - one pilot destroyed his plane, the other five were captured, and four of these were shipped to the USA for evaluation by the USAF. In 1966–1967 30 MiG-21PF were received, followed by probably 40 MiG-21PFM. Six MiG-21R were reportedly delivered; there is no further information. Some MiG-21M and MiG-21MF were also received; these were all designated "MiG-21MF" by the QJJ. About 60 MiG-21bis of both izdeliye 75A and 75B were delivered. Some MiG-21's were traded to Ukraine as part of a package for 36 MiG-29S; similar deals may have been made with Belarus, who provided Algeria with 36 more MiG-29S aircraft. The last MiG-21's were withdrawn from service by 2003. Before 1993, MiG-21's served with the following units:

  • 11e Escadron de Chasse (EdeCh - Fighter Squadron) (Colomb-Béchar)
    • 14e EdeCh (Tindouf) - MiG-21PFM/MF
    • 19e EdeCh (Colomb-Béchar)
    • 120e EdeCh (Aïn Oussera)
    • 140e EdeCh (Ouargla)
    • 153e EdeCh (Bou Sfer)
    • 630e EdeCh (Bou Sfer)
    • After 1993, MiG-21s were assigned to the following units:

    • 113e EdeCh (Tindouf)
    • 143e EdeCh (Ouargla)
    • 153e EdeCh (Colomb-Béchar)
    • 193e EdeCh (Bou Sfer)

Bangladesh - Bangladesh Air Force:
Received 12 HAL-built (Indian) MiG-21MF in 1973. All now retired, instead use Chengdu J-7 MiG-21's in the Bangladesh Air Force

Belarus - Belarus Air Force:

Burkina Faso - Burkina Faso Air Force:
Eight MiG-21bis (izd. 75A) and two MiG-21UM delivered in 1984; all non-operational by 1993. In 1984, the following units were equipped with MiG-21's:

  • Escadrille de Chasse ("Fighter Squadron") (Ouagadougou) - 8 MiG-21bis, 2 MiG-21UM.


  • Military of Chad captured aircraft, one in service, but retired.

China - People's Liberation Army Air Force:
Three complete MiG-21F-13 and 20 kits were sent from the USSR to China in 1961; the rest used by the PLAAF were all locally built Chengdu J-7 aircraft. Though only 23 "actual" aircraft were delivered from the USSR to China, they did see active service in the PLAAF and/or PLANAF; on January 3, 1966, a MiG-21F-13 of the PLANAF, flown by Lu Xiangxiao, shot down a USAF Ryan AQM-34 unmanned aerial vehicle using 57 mm rockets.

Republic of the Congo - Congolese Air Force: Reportedly 14 MiG-21bis (izd. 75B) and two MiG-21UM were delivered starting in 1988; all out of use by 1997.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Czechoslovakia - Czechoslovakian Air Force:
All aircraft passed on to Czech Republic and Slovakia. First version to operate with CSAF was the locally built Avia S-106 (= MiG-21F-13); 194 were built, and some were converted to MiG-21FR standard. 40 MiG-21PF were delivered from 1964, retired by 1990. MiG-21PFM, including nine nuclear-capable aircraft, were delivered between 1966 and 1969; all were retired by 1991. 25 MiG-21R were delivered between 1969 and 1972, retired between 1992 and 1994. 24 MiG-21M were delivered which were later upgraded to MiG-21MA standard. 102 MiG-21MF were delivered. Three MiG-21U izdeliye 66-400 and eight of izdeliye 66-600 were received, followed by 13 MiG-21US and 32 MiG-21UM. An Avia S-106 flown by a J. Foks is credited with the downing of a US Air Force aircraft violating Czechoslovak airspace in September 1963.

Czech Republic - Czech Air Force:
Ten MiG-21MF were upgraded to MiG-21MFN standard with NATO avionics; these were retired in 2005, replaced by the Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

East Germany - East German Air Force (LSK/NVA):
251 MiG-21's of seven versions were handed over to the Luftwaffe upon reunification; these were rapidly phased out of service. The LSK/NVA received 75 MiG-21F-13's in 1962-64, 52 MiG-21PF, 83 MiG-21PFM without cannon (locally designated MiG-21SPS) and 56 with cannon (locally designated MiG-21SPS-K), 89 MiG-21M, 68 MiG-21MF, 14 MiG-21bis izdeliye 75A and 32 izdeliye 75B, 14 MiG-21U izdeliye 66-400 and 31 izdeliye 66-600, 17 MiG-21US and 37 MiG-21UM. The following units operated MiG-21's:

  • 1st Air Defence Division (HQ Cottbus)
    • JG-1 (Holzdorf) - MiG-21MF, MiG-21SPS (PFM), MiG-21UM
    • JG-3 (Preschen) - MiG-21MF, MiG-21UM
    • JG-7 (Drewitz) - MiG-21M, MiG-21UM
    • JG-8 (Marxwalde) - MiG-21bis, MiG-21UM
  • 3rd Air Defence Division (HQ Neubrandenburg)
    • JG-2 (Neubrandenburg) - MiG-21M, MiG-21SPS (PFM), MiG-21UM
  • Fighter-Bomber & Air Transport Command (HQ Cottbus)
    • TAFS-47 (Drewitz) - MiG-21M, MiG-21UM
    • TAFS-87 (Preschen) - MiG-21M, MiG-21UM
  • Air Force Training Command (HQ Kamenz)
    • FAG-15 (Rothernburg - MiG-21SPS (PFM), MiG-21U, MiG-21US, MiG-21UM

Finland - Finnish Air Force:
Fighters: MiG-21bis Fishbed-N (26; 1977–1998), MiG-21F-13 Fishbed-C (22; 1963–1986), Trainers: MiG-21UM Mongol-B (2; 1974–1998), MiG-21US Mongol-B (2; 1981–1997), MiG-21UTI Mongol-A (2; 1965–1997). Six of the MiG-21bis were converted to MiG-21bis/T recce standard. All aircraft were operated by HävLLv 31, Finland was the first country outside the Warsaw Pact to buy MiG-21, after Finland had rejected MiG-19 and Soviet Union offered the brand-new Fishbed-C, Finland chose Fishbed-C and training of pilots by Soviet air force began, only to stop after start of Cuban Crisis when Soviet Union ordered its pilots on stand-by, and Finnish Air force decided the training could be continued in Finland without Soviet trainers.

Germany - Luftwaffe:
Aircraft taken over from East German Air Force upon reunification. All received registration numbers (2 × xx), but only those that were in operation received the full Luftwaffe serials with the Iron Cross painted on (2 × + xx).

Georgia - Georgian Air Force:
Two MiG-21UM were retained by Tbilaviamsheni factory and reportedly transferred to Georgian Air Force.

Guinea - Air Force of Guinea:
8 MiG-21MF and one MiG-21U delivered in 1986. Five restored to airworthy condition in Russia and returned to service; one of these crashed into a TV tower in 2007.

Guinea-Bissau - Air Force of Guinea-Bissau:
Six MiG-21MF and one MiG-21UM were delivered from Soviet surplus in the late 1980's. All are out of service.

Hungary - Hungarian Air Force:
Hungary was the first Warsaw Pact country to receive the MiG-21F-13, receiving 12 in 1961, followed by 68 more; all were retired by 1980. In 1964-65 24 MiG-21PF were delivered, the last of these being retired in December 1988. Hungary was the only Warsaw Pact nation not to receive any MiG-21PFM or MiG-21M; the next type received was the MiG-21MF, of which 50 were delivered between 1971 and 1974, and were retired in 1996. 39 MiG-21bis izdeliye 75A and 24 of izdeliye 75B were delivered from 1977, the last of these were retired in 2001. Of trainer variants, 12 MiG-21U izdeliye 66-400 and six izdeliye 66-600, as well as 27 MiG-21UM were delivered; the last of them were withdrawn in 2001. In 1991, MiG-21's operated with the following units (HRE = Harcászati Repülo Ezred - Combat Air Regiment; VSz = Vadászrepulo Század - Fighter Squadron):

  • 31. HRE "Kapos"
    • 1. VSz "Boszorkány" ("Witch") - 10 MiG-21bis, 2 MiG-21UM
    • 2. VSz "Turul" - 10 MiG-21bis, 2 MiG-21UM
  • 47. HRE "Pápa" (Pápa)
    • 2. VSz "Griff" ("Griffon") - 10 MiG-21bis, 2 MiG-21UM
  • 59. HRE "Szentgyörgyi Dezso" (Kecskemét)
    • 1. VSz "Puma" - 10 MiG-21MF, 2 MiG-21UM
    • 2. VSz "Dongó" ("Wasp") - 10 MiG-21bis, 2 MiG-21UM
    • At 2000, the disposition was as follows:
  • 47. HRE
    • 1. VSz "Sámán" ("Shaman") - 12 MiG-21bis in fighter role
    • 2. VSz "Griff" - 10 MiG-21UM in ground attack role

Indonesia - Indonesian Air Force:
Twenty MiG-21F-13 and two MiG-21U izdeliye 66-400 were received in 1962 and used during the preparation of Operation TRIKORA in 1962 in Western New Guinea (now Papua and Papua Barat). The aircraft were largely grounded in 1969 and removed from service in 1970. At least 13 of the F-13's and one U were transferred to the USA for test purposes.

Iran - Iranian Air Force:
Iranian Air Force had purchased 2 Mig-21PFM and 37 Mig-21F (23 like for Chinese version for J-7) and some 18 aircraft and 5 Mig-21U (FT-7 for Chinese Version like 4 purchased aircraft).

Iraq - Iraqi Air Force:
Iraq received 35 MiG-21F-13 starting in 1963; one of these is the famous "007" aircraft that defected to Israel and was subsequently transferred to the USA. The first MiG-21PF's were delivered in 1966; 37 are known for certain to have been received, but some sources suggest 90. 55 MiG-21PFM are known to have been received in 1970, but the number purchased is likely over 100 when taking into account aircraft transferred from Iraq to Egypt and Syria, though it is possible that these sources have confused or "bundled up" the PF's and PFM's. Fifteen MiG-21R were delivered in 1979, and 40 MiG-21MF were received in 1973 with another batch of 40 in 1979. A total of 61 MiG-21bis (izdeliye 75A) were delivered from 1983; some of these were found in 1990 in Dresden, Germany for overhaul, and four others at Batajnica, Yugoslavia. The East German Air Force (and subsequently, the Luftwaffe) had planned to sell surplus trainer variants to Iraq, but this fell through after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. At least 10 MiG-21U, 8 MiG-21US and 11 MiG-21UM were delivered between 1968 and 1985. 35 MiG-21's escaped to Iran during Desert Storm in 1991. Of those remaining in Iraq, none are operational, and most are likely destroyed or scrapped.

Israel - Israeli Defence Force/Air Force:
A number of MiG-21's of various models have been captured in wars with neighbors, but the best-known example is the "007" aircraft, a MiG-21F-13 of the Iraqi pilot, Munir Redfa who defected to Israel in 1966. This aircraft was examined and then shipped to the USA. A second MiG-21F-13 was later given the same number; this aircraft is now on display in an Israeli camouflage scheme with Israeli markings at the IDF/AF museum at Hatzerim AB. Since the 1990's, Israel has also undertaken various MiG-21 modernization programs.

Kyrgyzstan - Air Force of Kyrgyzstan:
A considerable number of MiG-21bis and MiG-21UM in storage near Bishkek. The Kyrgyz Air Force has no interest in operating them and has offered them for sale.

Mozambique - Mozambique Air Force.:
48 MiG-21bis were delivered from 1982 from Cuba, including pilots, for use against the RENAMO guerrillas; by 1990 only 18 were still operational. After the 1990 cease fire they were all put into storage and neglected. Only one air-to-air victory by a Mozambican fighter, probably a MiG-21, is known: in 1983, a Mozambican fighter downed a South African Air Force Seeker UAV.

Namibia - Namibian Air Force:
At least two MiG-21bis and one MiG-21UM were delivered to the NAF in 2002 following an overhaul and upgrade in Israel. Namibia also operates twelve Chengdu J-7's since 2006.

Nigeria - Nigerian Air Force:
25 MiG-21MF and six MiG-21UM were delivered in 1975. Three were lost in accidents, and one is preserved as a gate guard at Abuja air base. All were put into storage in the 1990's due to lack of spares and cash. By 2005, cash was available from increased oil production, but instead of refurbishing the MiG-21's, it was spent on new Chengdu F-7NI fighters and three FT-7NI trainers.

Poland - Polish Air Force:
Poland received its first MiG-21F-13 in June 1961. 24 more arrived in 1962-63, and all were withdrawn in 1971; twelve were sold to Syria in 1973. 84 MiG-21PF were delivered from 1964; the last ones were retired in December 1989. A total of 132 MiG-21PFM were delivered. Of these, twelve were the nuclear-capable izdeliye 94N and were designated MiG-21PFMN by the Polish Air Force; the rest (izdeliye 94A) were designated MiG-21PFMA. All were withdrawn by the mid 1990s; the PFMN's were retired in 1989 and stripped of their nuclear capability. Between 1968 and 1972 a total of 36 MiG-21Rs were delivered; the last of these were retired in 2002. 36 MiG-21M's were delivered in 1969-70, with all retired by 2002. In total Poland received 120 MiG-21MF's from 1972, with the last survivors retired in 2003. 72 MiG-21bis izdeliye 75A were delivered to Poland; the last of these were retired on December 31, 2003. The first trainers arrived in 1965 in the form of six MiG-21U izdeliye 66-400; three were lost in accidents, and the other three were retired in 1990. Five MiG-21U izdeliye 66-600 were delivered in 1966 and were retired by 1990. Twelve MiG-21US were delivered in 1969-70, the last being retired on December 31, 2003. Between 1971 and 1981 Poland received 54 MiG-21UM's; all were likewise retired at the end of 2003. On July 15, 1970, a Polish MiG-21 flown by Henryk Osierda accidentally shot down a Su-7BKL of the Czechoslovak air force.

Russia - Russian Air Force:
See the following Wikipedia article Russian Air Force

Slovakia - Slovak Air Force:
The assets of the former Czechoslovak Air Force were divided following the separation of the country into the Czech and Slovak Republics. Of MiG-21 variants, Slovakia received 21 MiG-21F-13's (actually Czechoslovak-built S-106's), three MiG-21PF's, eleven MiG-21PFM's, eight MiG-21R's, thirteen MiG-21MA, 36 MiG-12MF, three MiG-21U izdeliye 66-600, two MiG-21US and 11 MiG-21UM. The last few MiG-21MF's and UM's still in service were grounded on January 1, 2003.

Somalia - Somalia Aeronautical Corps:
The SAC received ten MiG-21MF fighters and four MiG-21UM trainers in 1974. The total number received is not certain, but most sources suggest that a maximum of 45 fighters and ten trainers were delivered. All were destroyed or damaged and subsequently abandoned in the Ogaden War and the subsequent civil wars. Eight MiG-21 wrecks can still be seen at Mogadishu airport.

Sudan - Sudanese Air Force:
Eighteen MiG-21PF fighters and two MiG-21U izdeliye 66-600 trainers were delivered in 1970, followed by 18 MiG-21M fighters and four MiG-21US trainers in 1971. By 1992 there were only seven fighters and two trainers remaining, with perhaps half being serviceable; none are in service today. Twelve second-hand MiG-21's were to be delivered in 2007 from the Ukraine, apparently ordered because the Eastern European mercenaries employed by the Sudanese government preferred Russian-built aircraft over the Chinese-built F-7's in service with the SAF. The only air-to-air action known to have involved Sudanese MiG-21's occurred on September 20, 1972, when several MiG-21M's forced a Libyan AF Lockheed C-130H Hercules to land.

Tanzania - Tanzania People's Defense Force Air Wing:
14 MiG-21MF's and two MiG-21UM's were delivered from the USSR in 1974. A few were lost before 1978, but the survivors took part in the war against Uganda; one was lost to enemy action and one to friendly fire. Seven Ugandan MiG-21MF's and one MiG-21U were captured and impressed into TPDFAW service. Four second-hand MiG-21MF's were bought from Ukraine in 1998, but by 2002 there were no MiG-21's in service.

Military of Turkmenistan had 3 Mig-21 aircraft in service.

USSR - Soviet Air Force and Soviet Anti-Air Defense:
MiG-21 passed on to successor states. Very little information is available on combat service of Soviet MiG-21 pilots, but what is known, is presented here (note that Col. Vadim Petrovich Shchbakov is known to have made ace status with 6 kills in the Vietnam War while serving as a pilot instructor, presumably all with MiG-21's).

USA - United States Air Force:
In the 1960's around a dozen MiG-21's arrived to the USAF from various sources. Though from the American point of view the details are a closely held secret, from non-US sources it is well known that six ex-Algerian MiG-21F-13's landed at an airbase in Egypt and were captured by Israeli forces, and that four of these were given to the USAF.

The famous "007" MiG-21F-13 of an Iraqi defector to Israel was also handed over to the Americans; further, at least 13 MiG-21F-13's were sent from Indonesia to the USA by President Suharto in the early 1970's. Most of these were not flown in the US, but were taken apart and examined in detail. The US Air Force is reported to have purchased at least 16 MiG-21MF Fishbed J's from Egypt in 1978 as from 1977 to 1988 Constant Peg Program saw USAF, Navy and Marine fighters flying against Soviet-designed MiG fighters as part of a training where American pilots could better learn how to defeat or evade the Communist bloc's contemporary fighters. It is believed that some few years later the USAF acquired from Egypt two additional Su-20 Fitters and two MiG-21U Fishbeds. In 1986 a dozen Mig-21's were purchased from China, and Indonesian MiG's were retired.

There was at least one MiG-21F-13, however, that was officially operated by the US Air Force as photographs prove. This MiG-21F-13 was given the USAF serial number 68-0965 and was intensively flight-tested in a program codenamed "Have Doughnut" that took place from January 23 to April 8, 1968. According to some reports, this MiG-21F-13 was the "007" handed over by the Israeli Air Force. It was tested together with a number of other aircraft, including an Vought F-8 Crusader, a McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II and a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. The final report concluded that the MiG-21F-13 was comparable to USAF types and though it was lacking in range and payload, it was "very maneuverable with an excellent rate of climb and acceleration, making it a good interceptor." Its "smokeless" engine was singled out for special praise. Later variants were almost certainly tested after 1969; this is lent weight by the crash of a MiG-23M on Nellis Range on April 26, 1984 in which the pilot, Lt Gen Robert M. Bond was killed, which suggests that the reports of an organization called "Red Hat Squadron" have a basis in fact.

Ukraine - Ukrainian Air Force:
None of the MiG-21's remaining in Ukraine after the breakup of the USSR were officially taken up by the UkrAF, but Ukraine has refurbished aircraft for sale.

North Yemen - Yemen Arab Republic Air Force (North Yemen):
In 1968 the YARAF received an unknown number of MiG-21PF fighters via Syria or Egypt; no details of these survive, as after 1978 the YARAF switched to Wester aircraft. Following the brief invasion by South Yemen and the subsequent intermittent fighting, the USSR supplied an additional 45 new MiG-21MF fighters and MiG-21UM trainers; it is interesting to note that the USSR provided arms and aid to both sides in the conflict, and was simultaneously doing what it could to unite the two Yemens. Any MiG-21MF's and UM's that survived into 1990 were transferred to the new Yemen Air Force following unification of the two Yemens in 1990.

South Yemen - People's Democratic Republic of Yemen Air Force:
In 1971 the USSR delivered MiG-21F-13's to the PDRYAF, and according to some reports, some others were sent by Bulgaria. Exact numbers are not known, but it is known that at least one squadron was formed. In the late 1970's further MiG-21 fighters and trainers arrived, including MiG-21MF. Any MiG-21's that survived into 1990 were transferred to the new Yemen Air Force following unification of the two Yemens in 1990.

SFR Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia operated up to 200 MiG-21's in 9 variants from 1962 till 1992. During the war in western Yugoslavia, these aircraft were passed on to the newly established air force of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Yugoslav MiG-21s were used briefly in the first period of the Yugoslav wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1991 and 1992, mostly in ground attack missions. Additionally there are four known incidents of MiG-21's forcing Croatian police helicopters or civilian airliners to land, several aerial victories are credited to MiG-21's of the Yugoslav Air Force.

On January 7, 1992, an AB-205 helicopter of the European Community was downed by a MiG-21bis of the 124th Fighter Aviation Squadron.

Yugoslav Air Force squadrons operating MiG-21 aircraft:

  • 123rd Fighter Aviation Squadron
  • 124th Fighter Aviation Squadron
  • 125th Fighter Aviation Squadron
  • 126th Fighter Aviation Squadron
  • 127th Fighter Aviation Squadron
  • 128th Fighter Aviation Squadron
  • 129th Fighter Aviation Squadron
  • 130th Fighter Aviation Squadron
  • 352nd Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron
  • 353rd Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron

FR Yugoslavia - Air Force of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia:
The Air Force of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia inherited its MiG-21's from the former Socialist Yugoslav Air Force. A large number were destroyed during the 1999 NATO war against Yugoslavia; survivors were passed on to Serbia. Very little MiG-21 activity is known of from the time of the NATO bombardment, though a MiG-21 is credited with the downing of a BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile on March 24, 1999. Further, Serbian and other sources claim that Yugoslav MiG-21's destroyed three Albanian J-7's, but none of these is believed to be a valid claim, as only 10 were in service at that time and none of them was flight capable.

  • 204th Fighter Aviation Regiment
    • 126th Fighter Aviation Regiment
    • 352nd Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron
  • 83rd Fighter Aviation Regiment
    • 123rd Fighter Aviation Regiment
    • 124th Fighter Aviation Regiment
    • 130th Fighter Aviation Regiment

Zimbabwe - Air Force of Zimbabwe:
Air Force of Zimbabwe received 48 Mig-21F and 2 Mig-21U Fishbeds.

Civil Operators

Some aircraft are now owned and flown by private collectors as warbirds. According to the FAA there are currently 44 privately owned Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbeds in the United States. There are companies that purchase Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbed's, MiG-15 Fagot's and MiG-17 Fresco's from Russia and other countries for sale to civilians for around $US450,000.

Specifications (MiG-21bis Fishbed-L) 5,3

General Characteristics

  • Role: Fighter
  • Crew: One
  • Manufacturer: Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB
  • Country of origin: USSR
  • Powerplant izd. 75/75A/75B: Tumansky R-25-300; Thrust (dry/reheat): 40.2 / 69.6 / 97.1* kN (9,040 / 15,650 / 21,835* lbf) ³
    * = limited (3-minute "extra-power" reheat at altitudes 4,000 m (13,120 ft) or less


  • Wing Span: 7.154 m (23 ft 5.7 in)
  • Length (except cone): 12.285 m (40 ft 3.7 in)
  • Length (overall, except probe): 14.7 m (48 ft 2.3 in)
  • Wheel track: 2.787 m (9 ft 1.7 in)
  • Wheel base: 4.71 m (15 ft 5.4 in)
  • Wing area: 23 m² (247.6 ft²)

Weights and Loadings

  • Weight, T/O with two R-3S missiles: 8,725 kg (19,230 lb)
  • Weight, maximum T/O: 9,800 kg (21,600 lb)
  • Weight, maximum T/O on rough strip or metal-plank strip: 8,800 kg (19,395 lb)
  • Weight, maximum T/O with KT-92D wheels and 42A or 058 (800 x 200) tires: 10,400 kg (22,920 lb)
  • Weight, fuel: 2,390 kg (5,270 lb)
  • Wing Loading: 379.3 / 426.1 / 382.6 / 452.2 kg/m² (77.8 / 87.4 / 78.4 / 92.7 lb/ft²)
  • Maximum operating limit load factor: 8.5


  • Maximum speed at 13,000 m (42,640 ft): 2,175 km/h (1,175 kt)
  • Maximum Mach number: 2.05
  • Maximum speed at S/L: 1,300 km/h (702 kt)
  • Climb rate at S/L, half internal fuel, full thrust, with two R-3S missiles: 230 m/sec (45,275 ft/min)
  • Climb to 17,000 m (55,760 ft): 8.5 min
  • Service ceiling: 17,500 m (57,400 ft)
  • Landing speed: 250 km/h (135 kt)
  • Range at 11,000 m (36,080 ft) in clean configuration: 1,225 km (760 mi)
  • Range at 14,000 m (45,920 ft) with 800-liter (211-US gal) drop tank: 1,430 km (890 mi)
  • Range at 11,000 m (36,080 ft) with two R-3S missiles and 800-liter (211-US gal) drop tank: 1,355 km (840 mi)
  • Range at 10,000 m (32,800 ft) with two R-3S missiles and 800-liter (211-US gal) drop tank: 1,470 km (910 mi)
  • T/O roll: 830 m (2,730 ft)
  • Landing roll with SPS and tail chute: 550 m (1,800 ft)

Armament ³

  • Internal cannon: 1 x GSh-23-2L with 200 rds
  • Center pylon:
    1 x PTB-490/PTB-800
    1 x SPRD-99
  • Inboard pylons (per hardpoint):
    1 x R-3S/R-3R/R-13M
    1 x R-55 AAM
    1 x Kh-66
    1 x UB-16-57U
    1 x S-24
    1 x FAB-100/250/500/OFAB-100
  • Outboard Pylons (per hardpoint):
    1 x R-3S/R-3R/R-13M
    1 x R-55
    2 x R-60/R-60M on twin rail
    1 x Kh-66
    1 x UB-16-57U
    1 x S-24
    1 x FAB-100/250/500/OFAB-100
    1 x PTB-490

Avionics (izd. 75B) ³

  • Radio: RSIU-5
  • IFF: SRZO-2 Khrom Nikel'
  • ADF: ARK-10
  • RWR: SPO-3 Sirena-3M
  • Gunsight: ASP-PFD
  • Radar: RP-21M
  • ATC Transponder: SOD-57M Globus-2
  • GCI Cmd Link: none
  • Radionav System: RSBN-2N>


  1. Photos: John Shupek, Copyright © 2008 Skytamer Images. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
  3. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 variants
  4. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 operators
  5. Belyakov, R.A. and J. Marmain. MiG: Fifty Years of Secret Aircraft Design. Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute Press, 1993. ISBN 978-1-55750-566-8. pgs 330-334

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