List of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 operators
This article lists current and former operators of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.
- 1 Current operators
- 2 Former operators
- 2.1 Afghanistan
- 2.2 Algeria
- 2.3 Angola
- 2.4 Azerbaijan
- 2.5 Bangladesh
- 2.6 Belarus
- 2.7 Bulgaria
- 2.8 Burkina Faso
- 2.9 Cambodia
- 2.10 Chad
- 2.11 China
- 2.12 Congo, Republic of the
- 2.13 Congo, Democratic Republic of the
- 2.14 Czechoslovakia
- 2.15 Czech Republic
- 2.16 East Germany
- 2.17 Eritrea
- 2.18 Ethiopia
- 2.19 Finland
- 2.20 Germany
- 2.21 Georgia
- 2.22 Guinea
- 2.23 Guinea-Bissau
- 2.24 Hungary
- 2.25 Indonesia
- 2.26 Iran
- 2.27 Iraq
- 2.28 Israel
- 2.29 Kyrgyzstan
- 2.30 Laos
- 2.31 Madagascar
- 2.32 Mongolia
- 2.33 Namibia
- 2.34 Nigeria
- 2.35 Poland
- 2.36 Russia
- 2.37 Slovakia
- 2.38 Soviet Union
- 2.39 Somalia
- 2.40 Sudan
- 2.41 Tanzania
- 2.42 Turkmenistan
- 2.43 United States
- 2.44 Ukraine
- 2.45 Vietnam
- 2.46 North Yemen
- 2.47 South Yemen
- 2.48 Yemen
- 2.49 Yugoslavia
- 3 Civil operators
- 4 See also
- 5 References
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 Ukraine in 1995, 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-21s were found with the following units (ZB = Zrakoplovna Baza - Air Base; ELZ - Eskadrila Lovačkih Zrakoplova - Fighter Squadron):
- 91 ZB/21 ELZ (Zagreb-Pleso)
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, a total of 270 MiG-21s of all variants were received by DAAFAR. 12 MiG-21bis and six MiG-21UM are still operational.
In 1990, MiG-21s 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
- 11o Regimiento de Caza (Santa Clara)
- 2a Brigada de Guardia "Playa Girón"
- 22o Regimiento de Caza (Baracoa)
- 221o Escuadrone
- 222o Escuadrone
- 22o Regimiento de Caza (Baracoa)
- 3a Brigada de Guardia "Cuartel Moncada"
- 31o Regimiento de Caza (Camagüey)
- 311o Escuadrone
- 312o Escuadrone
- 31o Regimiento de Caza (Camagüey)
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.
Indian Air Force. India received its first MiG-21s in 1963, numbering 8 MiG-21F-13s. Two more F-13s 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-21FLs 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 1990s. Squadrons known to operate the MiG-21 Bison include 3 Sqn "Cobras", No. 4 Squadron IAF "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". 
Libyan Arab Air Force. MiG-21 deliveries to Libya started in 1975 of 25 MiG-21UM trainers, followed by 50 MiG-21MFs; 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-21MFs 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.
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.
48 MiG-21bis were delivered in 1982 from Cuba, including pilots, for use against the RENAMO guerrillas; by 1990 only 18 were still operational. After the 1990 ceasefire 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. The Mozambique Air Force currently operates eight MiG-21s (six MiG-21bis and two MiG-21UM) that were refurbished by Aerostar in Romania.
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 the 2016 edition of World Air Forces, 26 MiG-21s are in service. 50 MiG-21 trainers of different variants were delivered, of which 30 are believed to be in service.
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.
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-21PFMs 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 As. Eleven MiG-21Rs, 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-21MFs were delivered starting in 1972. MiG-21Ms formed the basis for the MiG-21 Lancer A upgrade, and MiG-21MFs were rebuilt into MiG-21 Lancer Cs. A total of 73 Lancer A and 26 Lancer C were built, these are currently in service. In Romanian service, all variants of the two-seat trainer were designated MiG-21DC (Dublă Comandă). The first four 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.
During the Romanian Revolution, 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.
Serbian Air Force. Inherited from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 2006. There were 31 MiG-21 aircraft, incl: MiG-21bis, MiG-21UM and MiG-21M modified to carry reconnaissance pods. As of July 2016, only 3 MiG-21UM are operational. These have been armed with air to air missiles. All MiG-21bis have been grounded since September 2015. 
- 204th Air Brigade
- 101st Fighter Aviation Squadron
- 1st Reconnaissance Aviation
Syrian Air Force. 45 MiG-21F-13 were delivered around 1965 followed by 36 MiG-21PFs in 1966; six of the F-13s were lost in 1967 prior to the start of the Six Day War, and during the war itself, 32 of 60 F-13s and PFs were destroyed. These losses were covered by future deliveries from the USSR, as well as four MiG-21F-13s from Czechoslovakia and ten from Hungary. From 1968, 100 MiG-21PFM and MiG-21PFS were delivered, as were six MiG-21Rs in the 1970s. Sixty-one MiG-21MFs 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 MFs from the USSR. During the Yom Kippur War, 12 MiG-21Ms were bought from East Germany. A total of 54 MiG-21s and MiG-23s 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 1980s. About eight MiG-21U trainers were delivered in the 1960s, and 20 MiG-21UMs 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.
Ugandan Air Force. Up to 18 MiG-21MF fighters and three MiG-21U variants were delivered in the early 1970s. 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."
Zambian Air Force & Air Defence 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.
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-21s. 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-21s 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-21s saw combat during the civil war in 1994 and 1995, with Northern Alliance MiG-21s destroying one MiG-21, three Su-22s 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-21s 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-21s are known to have been shot down by Pakistani F-6s and Mirage IIIs in 1986.
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-21s 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-21s were withdrawn from service by 2003.
Before 1993, MiG-21s 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)
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-23 in 2007
- 13th Fighter Squadron (MiG-21MF and/or MiG-21bis; replaced by MiG-23ML in 2007)
- 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. Two Angolan MiG-21MFs 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.
Bulgarian Air Force. From 1963 to 1990, Bulgaria received 224 MiG-21s. Six remained in service as of 2012. 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 remained 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 remained 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
- (IAB = Iztrebitelna Aviatsionna Baza - Fighter Air Base; IAE = Iztrebitelna Avioeskadrila - Fighter Squadron; IAP = Iztrebitelen Aviopolk - Fighter Regiment; RAE - Razuznavatelna Avioeskadrila - Reconnaissance Squadron)
On 18 December 2015, Bulgaria retired their last three serviceable MiG-21s, two single-seat MiG-21bis's and a two-seat MiG-21UM1 trainer; the two fighters will remain available to conduct quick reaction alert sorties until 31 December, then be put in storage at Graf Ignatievo Air Base. The aircraft had been kept in service three years after they were originally slated for retirement due to airworthiness problems experienced by the MiG-29 fleet, but the cost of overhauling them further was rejected and efforts were redirected to maintaining the MiG-29. Bulgarian MiG-21 operations spanned 52 years.
In 1984, the following units were equipped with MiG-21s:
- Escadrille de Chasse ("Fighter Squadron") (Ouagadougou) - 8 MiG-21bis, 2 MiG-21UM.
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 modernise 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. As of 2007, all MiG-21 are reported to be stored and out of service.
- Military of Chad captured aircraft, one in service, but retired.
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 AQM-34 unmanned aerial vehicle using 57mm rockets
Congo, Republic of the
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
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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.
East German Air Force (LSK/NVA): 251 MiG-21s 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' 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-21s:
- 1st Air Defence Division (HQ Cottbus)
- 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
Eritrean Air Force: Operated six old Ethiopian Air Force MiG-21bis aircraft.
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):
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 reconnaissance standard. All aircraft were operated by HävLLv 3. Finland was the first country outside the Warsaw Pact to buy MiG-21, after Finland had rejected the MiG-19. The Soviet Union offered the brand-new Fishbed-C, and training of Finnish pilots by Soviet air force pilots began, only to stop after the start of the Cuban missile crisis, when the Soviet Union put its pilots on stand-by alert, and the Finnish Air force decided that training could continue in Finland without Soviet trainers.
Luftwaffe. Aircraft taken over from East German Air Force upon reunification. All received registration numbers (2x xx), but only those that were in operation received the full Luftwaffe serials with the Iron Cross painted on (2x + xx).
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-21s operated with the following units (HRE = Harcászati Repülő Ezred - Combat Air Regiment; VSz = Vadászrepulő 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 Dezső" (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
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 due to deteriorating bilateral relation and spare part embargo by the Soviet Union and removed from service in 1970. At least 13 of the F-13s and one U were transferred to the USA for test purposes.
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).
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-21PFs 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 PFs and PFMs. 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-21s escaped to Iran during "Desert Storm" in 1991. Of those remaining in Iraq, none are operational, and most are likely destroyed or scrapped.
Israeli Defence Force/Air Force. A number of MiG-21s of various models have been captured in wars with neighbours, 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 1990s, Israel has also undertaken various MiG-21 modernisation programmes.
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.
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.
Mongolian People's Air Force. Received 44 aircraft in 1977–1984. 8-12 MiG-21PFMs 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.
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 purchased twelve Chengdu J-7s in 2006. Four aircraft resembling MiG-21s are currently housed by the Namibian military at Grootfontein Airport.
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 1990s due to lack of spares and cash. By 2005, cash was available from increased oil production, but instead of refurbishing the MiG-21s, it was spent on new Chengdu F-7NI fighters and three FT-7NI trainers.
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 PFMNs 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-21Ms were delivered in 1969-70, with all retired by 2002. In total Poland received 120 MiG-21MFs 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-21UMs; 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.
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-13s (actually Czechoslovak-built S-106s), three MiG-21PFs, eleven MiG-21PFMs, eight MiG-21Rs, thirteen MiG-21MA, 36 MiG-12MF, three MiG-21U izdeliye 66-600, two MiG-21US and 11 MiG-21UM. The last few MiG-21MFs and UMs still in service were grounded on January 1, 2003.
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.
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-21s 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-7s in service with the SAF. The only air-to-air action known to have involved Sudanese MiG-21s occurred on September 20, 1972, when several MiG-21Ms forced a Libyan AF C-130H to land.
Tanzanian Air Force. 14 MiG-21MFs and two MiG-21UMs 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-21MFs and one MiG-21U were captured and impressed into TPDFAW service. Four second-hand MiG-21MFs were bought from Ukraine in 1998, but by 2002 there were no MiG-21s in service.
Military of Turkmenistan had 3 MiG-21 aircraft in service.
United States Air Force. In the 1960s around a dozen MiG-21s were acquired by the U.S. Air Force 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-13s 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-13s were sent from Indonesia to the USA by President Suharto in the early 1970s. Most of these were not flown in the US, but were taken apart and examined in detail. The U.S. Air Force is reported to have purchased at least 16 MiG-21MF Fishbed Js from Egypt in 1978 and operated to 1988 as part of the CONSTANT PEG program which saw USAF, US Navy and US Marine Corps fighters flying against the 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 years later the USAF acquired from Egypt two additional Su-20 Fitters and two MiG-21U Fishbeds. In 1986, a dozen MiG-21s were purchased from China and the Indonesian MiGs 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 programme 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 F-8 Crusader, an F-4B Phantom and a B-52. 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 manoeuvrable 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 organisation called "Red Hat Squadron" have a basis in fact. In US service, like with the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron, the Aircraft, The MiGs in US service were given Century Series designations to cover for their origins and direct attention away. The MiG-21 was given the original designation for the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II In USAF service: YF-110, to designate it was "experimental".
Vietnam People's Air Force. The VPAF received the first of its 20 or 30 MiG-21F-13 fighters in 1965; 30 MiG-21PFLs, 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-21UMs). An unknown number of all variants of the MiG-21 trainers were delivered, but MiG-21UMs were the majority. In 1996, six UMs arrived from the Ukraine.
The order of battle of units operating MiG-21s in 2007:
- 370th Air Division
- 371st Air Division
- 372nd Air Division
- 933rd Fighter Regiment (Kiến An)
- Air Academy
- 920th Fighter Regiment (Phù Cát)
- 932nd Fighter Regiment (Phù Cát)
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-21MFs and UMs that survived into 1990 were transferred to the new Yemen Air Force following unification of the two Yemens in 1990.
People's Democratic Republic of Yemen Air Force. In 1971 the USSR delivered MiG-21F-13s 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 1970s further MiG-21 fighters and trainers arrived, including MiG-21MF. Any MiG-21s that survived into 1990 were transferred to the new Yemen Air Force following unification of the two Yemens in 1990.
Yemen Air Force. Following the unification of North and South Yemen, the new YAF received the MiG-21s 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.
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia operated up to 261 MiG-21s in 10 variants from 1962 till 1992. There was 41 Mig-21f-13, 36 Mig-21PfM, 25 MiG-21M, 6 MiG-21MF, 46 MiG-21bis, 45 MiG-21bisK, 12 MiG-21R, 18 MiG-21U, 25 MiG-21UM and 7 MiG-21US. 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-21s forcing Croatian police helicopters or civilian airliners to land, several aerial victories are credited to MiG-21s 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
The Air Force of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia inherited its MiG-21s 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-21s destroyed three Albanian J-7s, 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
Some aircraft are now owned and flown by private collectors as warbirds. There are even importers in the U.S. that purchase MiG-21s, MiG-15s and MiG-17s from Russia and other states and sell them to civilians for around $450,000.
- Gordon, Yefim "MiG-21" ISBN 978-1-85780-257-3
- Far Eastern Air-to-Air Victories (ACIG.org)
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- Vietnamese Air-to-Air Victories, Part 2 (ACIG.org)
- Romania 1989
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- "Romania buys Portuguese F-16s". 11 October 2013.
- Ловачки авион МиГ-21 (Serbian)
- Different African Air-to-Air Victories
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- PICTURE: Bulgaria retires last MiG-21 fighters - Flightglobal.com, 29 December 2015
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