India’s MiG-21 Bison, a supersonic fighter jet, has a very controversial history. In the past, it has led to many tragic incidents. Several times, some experts even asked to retire the jet. But a recent dogfight between India and Pakistan in the sky over Kashmir in India entirely changed the way people look at MiG-21. The second generation jet is said to beat Pakistan’s fourth generation F-16 jet, which the country has purchased from the US. Although MiG-21 was shot down by, and its pilot, Wing Commander Abhidnandan Varthaman, was captured by Pakistan, the jet successfully beat F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Is MiG-21 really better than F-16 or it was the Wing Commander who shot down the enemy jet?
MiG-21Bison or F-16: What are they?
Indian MiG-21 Bison is a supersonic jet made in Russia. It was 1976 when the jet flew in the sky for the first time. It is an extremely popular war plane among security experts due to its ability to perform in almost all kinds of weather conditions. There are multiple variants of MiG-21 that are used by more than three dozen nations worldwide. India included the jet in its fleet in the 1980s.
On the other hand, the Government of Pakistan got 40 F-16A/B from the US in 1981. F-16A is a one-seater jet while F-16B is a two-seater jet. Pakistan is known to be using F-16 Fighting Falcon. The country had received the jet fleet from the US under an agreement to use the beasts in the fight against terrorism.
Origin of MiG-21 and F-16
Popular as the first supersonic jet aircraft, MiG-21 has been a favorite of many countries worldwide. In the last around 60 years, it has served 60 nations. India is one of the countries whose Air Force still uses it. The origin of MiG-21 goes back to the early 1950s. Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union is behind the design of MiG-21.
On the other hand, F-16 Fighting Falcon had its first flight in 1976. Originally developed by General Dynamics, today’s Lockheed-Martin, it’s an air-to-surface attack aircraft extremely popular due to its low-cost. In addition to the US, the country’s allied nations, which includes Pakistan, use the aircraft.
History of MiG-21 and F-16
It was 1961 when India came in contact with the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau for MiG-21. Since then, the Indian Air Force has been using them in three different variants: MiG-21M, MiG-21FL, and MiG-21 Bison. Right now, India is the largest operator of the Bison variant and uses the jet as an Interceptor. MiG-21 is renowned for its 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
F-16 was named ‘Fighting Falcon’ by the US in 1980. Pakistan received its first batch of F-16 in 1983. The US supplied the aircraft to Pakistan when PAF didn’t agree to purchase F-5E and F-5G. According to sources, PAF was given Fighting Falcon to use against terrorists and not against a nation during a war.
Specifications Of MiG-21 and F-16
MiG-21 is a single-seater fighter jet that features delta wings. In addition, it has a long fuselage. Its length is 14.7 meters and it weighs 5846 Kgs. As it’s the first supersonic jet, it is capable of reaching a speed of 1300 kmph. What’s more surprising is its range. As per sources, the jet’s range is 1470 km. The jet is capable of carrying rocket, missiles, and bombs.
F-16 is a more advanced and modern-day jet. It is 14.5 meters long and has a weight around 8,900 kgs. It is faster than MiG-21as it can reach a speed of more than 2400 kmph. The delta-shaped F-16 comes with a system to mount missiles at the wing tips.
If the recent reports are true, then MiG-21 Bison is the first jet in the history that has shot down more advanced and powerful F-16 Fighting Falcon. Was it luck, the ability of MiG-21, or the brave Wing Commander Abhidnandan Varthaman? What do you think?