MIG 21 turning into drones. Is it possible?

According to Vietnamese Defence report with Vietnam Air Force retired MIG 21 is planned to be converted into combat drones.

These aircraft are in a huge number in Vietnam Air Force which was its backbone. The same condition is also with the Indian Air force which has almost 100 MiG 21 which were manufactured in 1990.

These aircraft are also called flying coffins due to its high accidental rate. As we already know that Vietnam and India are in conflict with China so they need to maintain and upgrade its arsenal which also includes air power.

The concept of converting a fighter jet into an unmanned UCAV is not new. The conversion program is not feasible enough to be conducted for combat by any country around The World. The Vietnam Air force has already retired its MiG-21 in 2010 but now in 2020, they have introduced the idea to convert this fighter jet into an unmanned drone. Converting this old aircraft into combat drone causes enormous challenge because of lack of adequate airframes, avionics, electronic mechanism and other systems such as fly-by-wire.

MIG 21

Talking about MIG 21 it is the most produced aircraft in the world and has made many records when it was introduced back in 1950. It was the top interceptor Fighter for Soviet air force and it was also brought to Indian Air Force as a frontline fighter jet.

It is a basically 4th Generation, single-engine, multi-role, interceptor fighter Aircraft designed by Mikoyan and Gurevich Design Bureau of Russia than the Soviet Union. Mikoyan Company was being founded by Mikhail Gurevich and Artem Mikoyan on 8 December 1939.

Its Headquarter is at Begovoy District, Moscow, Russia. This company is a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation which also includes Yakovlev, Irkut, Sukhoi, Tupolev and Ilyushin.

Its model and body are designed by the Mikoyan Design Bureau. It is built by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association. Its First flight was being conducted on 16 June 1955 and it was finally introduced in Soviet Air Force in 1959.

It was being used by Soviet Air Force, Afghanistan Air Force, Belarus Air Force, Bulgaria Air Force, China Air Force, Germany Air Force, Hungary Air Force, Iran Air Force, Vietnam Air Force, Nigeria Air Force, Poland Air Force, Somalia Air Force, Ukraine Air Force and several other countries.

They are still in service with Indian Air Force, Egypt Air Force, Croatia Air Force, Cuba Air Force, Azerbaijan Air Force, Libya Air Force, Mali Air Force, North Korea Air Force, Serbia Air Force, Sudan Air Force, Yemen Air Force, Zambia Air Force and some other countries.

Its Production started in 1959 and lasted till 1985. Its final testing was done in 1958 and full-scale production started in 1959. Total 11,645 MiG-21 aircraft have been built. Its unit cost was around the US $ 2 million in 1974.

Mikoyan MiG 21
Mikoyan MiG 21

Total 54 MiG 21 fighter jets are serving in India. It is a single-seater 4th generation fighter aircraft which has a length of 14.7-meter width of 7.154 meters and a height of 4.1 meters. This aircraft has an empty weight of 5846 kg and it can carry weapon load up to 2879 kg. It has fire range of 640 to 800 kilometre. This aircraft can cruise at a speed of Mach 2.1. It has 5 hardpoints to carry missiles.

Country of OriginRussia
Generation4th Generation
Length/Width/Height14.7 m/ 7.154 m/ 4.1 m
Weight5,846 kg
Weapon load2,879 kg
Fire range640- 800 km
SpeedMach 2.1
Total no. Of jets produced11,645
Hard Point5
Primary UsersIndian Air Force, Egypt Air Force, Croatia Air Force, Cuba Air Force, Azerbaijan Air Force, Libya Air Force, Mali Air Force, North Korea Air Force, Serbia Air Force, Sudan Air Force, Yemen Air Force, Zambia Air Force
MIG 21


In India MiG 21 production was licensed to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Its production started in India in Nasik since 1966. Near about 840 MiG 21 were produced in India. Due to several crashes in the 1990s, its all variants were retired in 2013 except MIG 21 Bison which were upgraded to serve till 2025.

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