ibnlive » India

May 01, 2006 at 06:04pm IST

Air force bids farewell to MiG-25s

New Delhi: A Cold War legend faded into history on Monday with the phasing out of the MiG-25 aircraft by the Indian Air Force. It was the world's fastest and highest flying aircraft.

Feared as the Foxbats, the last four of the MiG-25 fleet were retired by the IAF at a ceremony at the Bareilly airbase. The Foxbat was used for strategic reconnaissance across borders.

Flying at three times the speed of sound and at heights of up to 100,000 feet, this aircraft was virtually impossible to intercept or hit while it collected images across frontiers. The IAF is the last Air Force to phase out the MiG-25.

GOOD BYE: The last four of the MiG-25 fleet were retired by the IAF.

Speaking about the Blackbirds and the U2s of the US Air Force that had become redundant, Air Chief Marshal Tyagi said that better technology had to and would take the place of the MiG-25s.

Better known as strategic reconnaissance aircrafts the MiG25 aircrafts successfully touched the stratosphere of glory during their 25 years of existence.

" There is no longer any need to fly these planes. This plane had the capability of other things too, besides reconnaissance, like electronic intelligence also. There are two types of satellites. One that flies at heights which have powerful cameras and the others which fly at low orbit which do not have very powerful cameras,” Tyagi said.

“In between all this there are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) also which also takes photos. There is a complex arrangement from top to bottom; there would be scope for photographs, electronic intelligence and signals intelligence. Amidst all these types og intelligence, there's no requirement of MiG25s".

The phasing out ceremony began early on Monday morning with parade display of the various components of the aircraft like engine and the fuel tank of the aircraft, which can contain five-ton fuel, which is more than the capacity of a Boeing-737.

"It's a very emotional moment for us. After 25 years of glorious service of touching the stratosphere with glory, it is phasing out today. It is a very deep emotional moment for us," said Wing Commander S.K.Taliyan.

There are only 42 pilots in the Indian Air Force to have flown this plane.

The first batch of pilots to be trained were Wing Commander A J Singh, Squadron Leaders D Lazarus, S L Sud, J S Grewal, besides Flight Lieutenants R E Ketkar and Lt B S Khalsa.

With Agency inputs