Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21

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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
An Egyptian MiG-21PFM
An Egyptian MiG-21PFM
Type: Interceptor
Design country:

Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union Soviet Union



First flight:

June 14, 1956


December 1958

Production time:

1958 to 1975

Number of pieces:


The Mikojan-Gurewitsch MiG-21 ( Russian Микоян-Гуревич МиГ-21 , NATO code name : Fishbed ) is a single-jet interceptor developed in the Soviet Union . The MiG-21 entered service in 1959. Outside the USSR, it was first stationed in the GDR with the Soviet 16th Air Army .

The MiG-21 was introduced into the air forces of more than 50 states and many variants were manufactured under license. In the People's Republic of China , MiG-21 variants (designation J-7 ) were produced until the mid-1990s . In total there were around 15 different versions of the MiG-21. With around 10,300 units - after the MiG-15 with 18,000 and the MiG-17 with 10,800 units - it is one of the most widely built combat aircraft in the world since the Second World War .


Cockpit of a MiG-21MF
Display device of the radio altimeter RW-UM of a MiG-21 (measuring range 0 to 600 m)
Such ejection seats of the type KM-1 were in the MiG-21 and MiG-23 used

In 1953, the military leadership of the Soviet Union outlined the specification for a new fighter aircraft that was to operate at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound ).

The aircraft planned by the Mikoyan-Gurevich experimental design office under the designation Je-1 corresponded to a swept wing design with the new R-11 engine . The Mikoyan design faced the Sukhoi types S-1 and T-1. Because the engine was not yet operational, the project was modified so that testing with the older RD-9B engine from the MiG-19 could begin; this aircraft, now designated as Je-2, took off on its maiden flight on February 14, 1955 with Georgi Mossolow on the control stick. The machine was extremely light. Its construction weight was only 3687 kilograms, at the start the Je-2 weighed up to 5334 kilograms. As a pure front aircraft, the engine having three should automatic cannon of the type NR-30 are equipped. In addition, a cassette with eight ARS-57s was provided under each wing . The Je-2 had a wing with a 55 degree leading edge sweep, a quarter of the edge of which was equipped with automatic slats , which in particular improved slow flight characteristics.

Mikojan received considerable support from ZAGI in the development of the aircraft . Based on the joint research, the Je-4 was built at Mikojan. It differed from the Je-2 only in the delta wings . These promised higher speeds with a lower construction mass, but hardly kept these promises. Amazingly, the apparently more modern delta wing showed hardly any better flight performance than the swept wing of the Je-2. In the end, the delta wing only won because of its lower wing loading , which enabled smaller turning circles in the curve fight. Contrary to the theoretical considerations about the future type of aerial combat, this should be a great advantage of the MiG-21 over its opponents, because the development in the east and west was misjudged: maximum speeds and peak heights actually hardly played the expected role, which in particular the US pilots in Vietnam had to experience painfully when they suddenly found themselves fighting on corners with the Phantom II, which was designed for long combat distances . The first flight of the Je-4 took place on June 16, 1955. During the test flights, the machine, which was powered by a Tumanski RD-9 E, reached a top altitude of 16,400 meters and a top speed of 1,296 kilometers per hour. These results disappointed the engineers. It was decided to develop the Je-2 into the front fighter Je-2A in the shortest possible time. The Je-5, which again represented the counterpart with a delta structure, was created on the same basis. The type thus obtained was equipped with an AM-9E (I) engine. The four tanks held 1890 liters of fuel. The equipment of the Je-5 was similar to that of the late MiG-19 versions. The SRD-1 radio rangefinder worked in conjunction with the ASP-5N automatic shooting sight. The radio communication was made possible via a VHF station with the designation RSIU-4. An automatic radio compass ARK-5 and the marker radio receiver MRP-48P were available to the pilot for navigation . The "Sirena 2" system was used as the rear warning system. On February 17, 1956, the Je-5 took off for the first time. The installation of numerous new systems and the new engine increased the take-off weight to 6250 kilograms (empty weight 4340 kilograms). The Je-5 reached a summit height of 18,000 meters and a speed of 1,900 kilometers per hour.

In mid-1955, the Je-4 was also revised. The large boundary layer fence under the wings was replaced by three small ones on the surfaces, and RD-9E and RD-9I engines were also installed. This aircraft took off for the first time on September 5, 1956. In the further course the developers equipped the Je-4 with a delta structure swept by 57 degrees.

The Je-5 equipped with an RD-11 completed its maiden flight on January 9, 1956. The type climbed to 5000 meters in 1.6 minutes, flew 1970 kilometers per hour and up to 17,650 meters high. Initially it was planned to transfer this model into series production. However, on May 26, 1956, Suchois T-3 reached a speed of 2100 kilometers per hour and a summit height of 18,000 meters and rose to 10,000 meters in 2.3 minutes. In addition, the T-3 was armed with missiles and used search radar . Mikoyan then tested a new delta structure that allowed speeds of more than 2000 kilometers per hour and initially neglected the equipment of the type with radar .

In the opinion of the engineers, there was the possibility of a combined propulsion system consisting of a turbine jet engine and a rocket engine . That is why the development of the Je-50 began. Outwardly there were hardly any differences to the Je-2. The leading edge sweep was 55 degrees, the slats were omitted and the boundary layer fences were retained. The tank system comprised four tanks with kerosene for the cruise engine and another three tanks with fuel and hydrogen peroxide for the rocket engine. This reduced the range to 450 kilometers. The first prototype was completed at the end of 1955 and was flown in on January 9, 1956. On June 8, 1956, the first flight took place with the rocket engine switched on. On one of the following flights, the cruise engine failed, forcing the pilot to make a field landing , in which the first prototype was destroyed. This loss severely delayed the program.

The third type of the Je-50 series was extended by 1.2 meters. During testing, an explosion destroyed the tail of the aircraft. The pilot catapulted himself out of the wreckage of the crashing machine, but died due to a malfunction of the ejector seat . The developers then revised the entire concept according to security aspects. The resulting Je-50A was based on the Je-2A. It used the more powerful R-11 engine and the S-155 accelerator. The fuel system got by with five tanks. The fuselage became a little thinner and the tank for the hydrogen peroxide was moved to the vertical stabilizer. The Gorky plant produced some aircraft of this type in a pilot series. During the troop trials it finally turned out that the mixed drive was the worse concept. Thereupon the production of the Je-50 was stopped.

The Je-2A was also manufactured as MiG-23 or Flugzeug 63 at the Gorki plant. In 1958, much of the work was based on these versions. Further development work on the Je-2A was discontinued. The Je-5 was equipped with the R-11 engine, which delivered 57.40 kilonewtons of thrust with the use of an afterburner. Changes in the equipment that enabled the use of air-to-air missiles and the installation of a multi-stage diffuser and the modified R-11F-300 engine gave rise to the Je-6, which for almost 30 years was available in over 16 modifications as a MiG- 21 was produced. The first machine of this type left the factory in May 1958. On the seventh flight, the engine failed at an altitude of 18,000 meters. The Je-6 hit not far from the airfield and the test pilot died a few hours later. Also in 1958 the trials of the Je-4 and Je-5 ended. The planes were used in particular as flying laboratories, also for spin tests . For this purpose the Je-4 100, the Je-5 98 and the Je-2 / Je-2A 250 times.

Rostislav Belyakov , who later became the chief of OKB Mikoyan, directed work on the second prototype, the Je-6-2, whose test flights began on September 15, 1958. During this time, Mach 1.97 (2100 kilometers per hour) was reached at an altitude of 15,300 meters. The Je-6 climbed to its summit height of 20,700 meters in 305 seconds and was able to fly 1,800 kilometers. In an emergency, the pilot was able to catapult himself out of the aircraft with the SK rescue system. The cockpit hood protected him from the wind. The MiG-21 should primarily be used for hunting. This is how the armament was laid out; it initially consisted of two NR-30s with 30 rounds each and two target-seeking infrared guided missiles for air combat. Two unguided ARS-240s, two rocket launchers UB-16-57U with 16 S-5M and S-5K each and free-fall bombs FAB50 to FAB500 were available against ground targets, but there was no aiming device for ground targets.


Three-sided tear
MiG-21UM of the LSK / LV
MiG-21F with NR-30 on the left - here the fairing of the NR-30
Radio measuring sight RP-21M, horn antenna and reflector
MiG-21 Lancer
Modified MiG-21 (MiG-21-2000)

Official production of the MiG-21 began with the factory designation Je-6T . In 1959 the aircraft factory in Gorki delivered 30 MiG-21F or aircraft 72 aircraft. In the following year there were 69 aircraft. When this production batch ran out, the aircraft was switched to the 74 aircraft, which was also known as the MiG-21F and had only one NR-30 cannon.

In the case of the Je-6-2, the developers changed the sweep of the wing to 57 degrees and tested the attachment of the rockets to the ends of the wing. These changes were waived for series production and in 1960 the aircraft 74 was replaced by the MiG-21F-13. Gorky emissions were 132 aircraft in 1960 and rose to 272 in 1961, only to expire at 202 in 1962. The production of the "F-13" was also expanded to the "Snamja Truda" plant in Moscow . The export version of the MiG-21U trainer, which was equipped with a second cockpit in tandem and the R-11F-300 engine, was also produced there. In order to save mass, the machine called the Je-6U-1 by Mikojan was equipped with a 12.7 mm MG instead of the NR-30. The same applied to the device 66, which was the version for the Air Force of the Soviet Union . After the maiden flight on October 17, 1960, the Tbilisi plant began series production in 1962.

At this point the further development of the MiG-21 began. With the Je-6T-3 a version with fully swiveling canards started . This pattern was not prepared for series production, but the findings were used in the development of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Je-8 . Georgi Mossolow broke the world speed record of a Lockheed F-104 with 2388 kilometers per hour on October 31, 1959 with a machine known as the Je-66 . Another record of the F-104 was surpassed with a dynamic peak height of 34,714 meters. Further experiments with the Je-6W followed, with which flying at extreme angles of attack in particular was investigated. This version had a support wheel on the keel fin . Practice showed that at a possible angle of attack of eleven degrees, the pilot's visibility deteriorated and the aircraft only had moderate longitudinal stability. A new system was then used in which the flow around the flaps was increased by means of bleed air from the engine.

With the start of serial production of the MiG-21F-13, development of a version with radar began. The machine, called Je-7 by Mikoyan, received a radio measuring device of the type RP-21 (according to the English language Wikipedia only from the MiG-21P and -PF, which is correct, because the "P" means перехватчик = interceptor) that controls the radar -Range finder SRD-5M Kwant replaced the MiG-21F-13. The first of three prototypes of the later MiG-21P flew in 1958. In January 1960, the Je-7-2 followed. Externally, the type could be recognized by its larger bow diameter with the more voluminous shock wave diffuser . The cannon armament was omitted and air targets could only be fought by two infrared guided missiles. With the MiG-21P, the pilot was able to locate and track the target himself to a certain extent. At the same time, it was possible to lead the hunter to the target from the ground. For this purpose, the MiG-21P had the LASUR system , which was part of the Wosduch-1 command system . The Je-7-3 weighed 7,400 kilograms at the start with full internal tanks. The flight tests showed that the performance corresponded roughly to that of the F-13, but the maneuverability deteriorated and the radar system worked unreliably. In 1962, the Je-7-4 was created, which was equipped with the R-11F2-300 engine. It was tested in August and September 1962. This version also features a revised fuel system and a larger keel fin at the stern to improve longitudinal stability. After the tests had been completed, the MiG-21PF ("F" форсирование = acceleration → afterburner), also called device 76, replaced the MiG-21F-13 in series production in Moscow and Gorky. Deliveries to the troops began that same year. In 1964 the export version MiG-21PF followed for the GDR and VR Poland , which procured the type as a replacement for their MiG-17 PF and MiG-19PM. The MiG-21PF-W was delivered to Vietnam in a tropicalized version .

The constant further development of the aircraft led to the installation of the "SPS" system, which inflated the flaps with bleed air from the engine and increased their effectiveness. Furthermore, the rudder unit was enlarged again. The braking parachute was in a room in the lower fuselage level with the landing flaps. The resulting type had the designation Je-7SPS and was produced as MiG-21PFS , also MiG-21PF-SPS, for the associations of the Soviet Air Force and Air Defense (PWO). India imported the export version MiG-21FL. From the 15th series, the MiG-21PF received the improved RP-21M radar and the enlarged vertical stabilizer with the container for the braking parachute. The name for the troop was MiG-21PFM-SPS or MiG-21PFMS. ("M" модернизация = modernization)

Based on the MiG-21PFS, the MiG-21US trainer with the PLC system (system of boundary layer influence) was created. It was also known as Device 68, the export version as Device 68A, and used the R-11F2S-300 engine. The rescue systems were already standard KM-1 and the fuel capacity was 2450 liters. In 1971 this type was replaced by the MiG-21UM, also called Device 69, with the AP-155 autopilot and the ASP-PFM target. The UM variant had a periscope for the flight instructor , as his view from the rear seat was very restricted.

Device 77 was followed by device 94, which also received the improved RP-21M. The rescue system "KS" was replaced by the KM-1. Among other things, this also resulted in a new cabin roof attached to the rear. The equipment was upgraded to the rear warning system "Sirena 3M", the automatic sight ASP-PF-21 and suspensions for the rocket accelerator SPRD-99. The variant MiG-21PFM had an enlarged vertical stabilizer with a container for the braking parachute. The PFM types also differ in the ability to carry the GP-9 gondola.

In the mid-1960s the OKB Mikojan began to build a reconnaissance aircraft based on the MiG-21PFM . Outwardly, the plane changed little. Containers that took part of the reconnaissance sensors were only attached to the ends of the wing. At the external load station under the fuselage, the machine known as the MiG-21R carried a reconnaissance container of the type "R" or "D". The short range of the MiG-21 made it necessary to equip the reconnaissance version with additional fuel capacity. For this purpose, the MiG-21R had four underwing pylons, of which the outer pylons each received an additional tank. The 94R device could also carry weapons. This included two R-3S rockets, UB-16-57U rocket launchers, two S-24s or two free-fall bombs up to 500 kg. The MiG-21R was produced in Gorki from 1965 to 1971. The R-11F2S-300 served as the engine. A later version with the Tumanski R -13-300 engine was designated as the MiG-21RF.

In 1964, the “Safir” fire control complex was a more advanced system for targeting. It included the improved RP-22 radar. The system was built into a Je-7. Series production lasted from 1965 to 1968. The equipment included the AP-155 autopilot and the LASUR-M system. The model did not have a gun, but could a machine gun of the type GRYAZEV-SHIPUNOV GSH-23 in the lower hull container record (designation MiG-21S ). The primary anti-airborne weapons were two R-3S or R-3R missiles . The MiG-21S, which weighed up to 8150 kilograms at the start, was powered by a Tumanski R-11F2S-300 engine. With 2800 liters of fuel the range was 1240 kilometers, with a further 800 liters in the additional tank it was 1610 kilometers. The maximum speed at an altitude of 13,000 meters was 2,230 and near the ground 1,300 kilometers per hour, the summit was 18,000 meters. In 8.5 minutes the guy climbed to 17,500 meters. For the states of the Warsaw Pact and other pro-Soviet states there was the export version MiG-21M, which used the older RP-21MA radar and could only carry 2650 liters of fuel. A little-known minor version of this MiG-21S was the Je-7N, which could be equipped with tactical nuclear weapons . Nothing is known about series production.

In 1965 the Tumanski R-13-300 engine was available. It was based on the R-11 and represents a leap in technology. It delivered 64.9 kilonewtons of thrust with an afterburner and consumed significantly less fuel than its predecessor. This unit was installed in the Je-7SM. In 1968 the MiG-21SM , also called Device 95M, replaced the MiG-21S in series production in Gorki. Because of the insufficient armament, the number of underwing stations was increased to four. The armament range corresponded to that of the MiG-21S. However, the takeoff weight increased to 8300 kilograms and the fuel supply sank to 2650 liters, which was not at the expense of the range because of the more economical engine. The equipment hardly changed compared to the variant "S". Series production in Gorki ended in 1974. The MiG-21MF (modernized, second afterburner stage, but older RP-21MA radar), also known as Device 96F or Device 88, was available for export. The type was produced in Moscow from 1970 to 1974 and in Gorky from 1968 to 1975.

The air war over Vietnam revealed the advantages and disadvantages of the MiG-21. The short range turned out to be the main disadvantage. The inefficient electronics did not have such a serious impact because the target assignment was made from the ground. In 1970, developers tried again to equip the MiG-21 with more fuel. A visible thickening of the device tunnel, which now extended to the container for the braking parachute, increased the fuel capacity to 3250 liters, of which only 2950 liters were usable. These changes had a negative effect on the flight performance of the MiG-21SMT and the rate of climb was now nine minutes for an altitude of 16,800 meters. The top speed dropped to 2175 kilometers per hour at an altitude of 13,000 meters. However, the range increased by 200 to 250 kilometers. The series production started in 1971 was stopped again in 1972 because the changes were classified as ineffective. The aviation industry referred to the type as Device 50 and the export version was referred to as MiG-21MT and Device 96T, respectively. The older RP-21MA wireless measuring sight was also used in this export version, but only 15 units were built that were not exported. The R-13-300 was installed as the engine.

The MiG-21bis should be the last MiG-21 version. Until the new MiG-29 was made available, it represented an interim solution as an improvised counterpart to the new American aircraft such as the General Dynamics F-16 . The focus of this modernization was on the cockpit overview, firepower, rate of climb and rate of turn. The lights and switches distributed over the cockpit have been arranged more clearly and ergonomically . The Safir complex was improved with the RP-22SMA radar and the armament switched to newer missile types. The R-13 missile was expanded to include the new R-60 . With the R-60 rocket, the pilot had a medium-range weapon at his disposal that was not available on previous MiG-21s. The cannon armament in the form of the GSch-23L was embedded in a mount in the fuselage. The ammunition supply was 250 shells. The new Tumanski R-25-300 engine, developed on the basis of the R-13-300, further increased flight performance. The R-25-300 was more economical than its predecessor and had an additional power level of the afterburner, which came into play from speeds of Mach 1.5. In addition, the engine had a performance-enhancing stage (usually called "special regime") in normal operation, which could be switched on by means of a switch (i.e. not controllable). This did not change anything in the operation of the afterburner, rather the pump capacity of the main fuel pump NR-54 was increased. This additional step, usable up to an altitude of 4000 meters, generated a thrust of up to 71.0 kilonewtons, but consumed a correspondingly large amount of fuel. This afterburner stage was designed for short-term use only; it could be used continuously for a maximum of three minutes. This enabled the MiG-21bis to climb at 225 meters per second. The turning speed was 20 to 22 degrees per second. The MiG-21bis was manufactured in two versions, factory designations were device 75 and device 78. They differed in the installation of the control system SAU and the LASUR.

The MiG-21 was a commercial success and is still in active service in numerous states. In the early 1990s, a number of aviation companies, including the Israeli IAI (MiG-21 2000) and Elbit (MiG-21 LanceR), presented modernization programs. These led, for example, to the Romanian Air Force's MiG-21 Lancer and the MiG 21 2000 for Zambia and Uganda. This should make it possible to keep the MiG-21 from earlier versions in service into the 21st century.

The Mikoyan company saw its market share threatened. A modernization package was quickly developed, which, when fully implemented, led to the MiG-21I , also MiG-21-93, and is in service in India. The conversions concern the engine system, the fuel and hydraulic systems, the air conditioning, the fire control and cooling system and the self-defense systems. The centerpiece is the "Kopjo" (Eng. Spear) fire control complex. The range of the radar is up to 100 kilometers; the weapon calculator enables two targets to be attacked at the same time, with the pilot assigning the targets using a helmet visor. The destruction of targets against the earth's background is possible up to a height of 30 meters. The armament includes the R-60M (MK) R-27R , R-27T, R-77 / RWW-AE and R-73 missiles . The Ch-31 can be fired against anti-aircraft missile positions . A BWP-30-26 flare-thrower system for infrared interference was attached to the fuselage of the wings . It contains 120 bullets each with a caliber of 26 millimeters. The engine is a modification of the R-25-300. The modern RD-33 engine from the MiG-29 can also be installed. The cockpit glazing has been modified so that the windshield is made in one piece. This significantly improves the pilot's vision. The cockpit is equipped with two head-down and one head-up displays . Via Datalink, the MiG-21I can also be used in conjunction with the MiG-31 for area-wide airspace surveillance. In 1992 a variant with an air-to-air refueling system was shown at the “Mosaero” air show.


The fuselage of the MiG-21 is made of all-metal shell construction. The aircraft has a pressurized cabin with an ejector seat. There are two air brakes on the lower fuselage in the area of ​​the fore wing. A braking parachute housed in the stern can be used when landing.

The aircraft is a cantilevered delta mid-wing aircraft. There is a small boundary layer fence just before the wingtips. The tail unit is heavily swept. It is designed as a self-supporting standard construction. In addition, there is a stabilizing fin ( false keel ) under the rear of the fuselage.

Experimental aircraft

MiG-21I Analog in Monino

The most important experimental aircraft were the MiG-21I (also MiG-21 "Analog"), which Mikojan built to support the Tu-144 program, the MiG-21PD and the Mikojan-Gurevich Je-8 .

The MiG-21I or "Analog" or "21-11" was built to research flight behavior and air currents on the planned wings of the Tu-144. The basis for the "Analog" was a standard MiG-21S. Two pieces were built. The first machine took off for its maiden flight on April 18, 1968 with pilot Gudkow. The tests lasted until 1969, although the Tu-144 completed its maiden flight on December 31, 1968. The "21-11" reached a summit height of 19,000 meters and speeds of up to Mach 2.05. The two prototypes differed in particular in their wings, which in the case of the "1" corresponded to a double delta with a 78 ° to 55 ° leading edge sweep. The first machine crashed after testing on July 28, 1970 during an aerobatic maneuver carried out at low altitude without a permit due to control errors, the pilot Viktor Konstantinov was killed. The second machine was only completed in mid-1969, it was still being tested for some time, was also used to instruct future Tu-144 pilots and was later handed over to the Monino Museum , where it is still today next to a Tu-144. Due to the lower wing loading, the MiG-21I was significantly more agile than the standard versions. Some test pilots were so enthusiastic about the handling that they suggested series production.

The "23-31" or MiG-21PD served as the technology carrier for the MiG-23. With it, the flight behavior as well as problems and advantages of vertically installed lift engines should be researched. In order to avoid a new design for these first tests, a MiG-21PFM that had been removed from series production was converted. For this purpose, the fuselage was stretched 0.9 meters and two Kolessow RD-36-35 engines were installed in the middle . These delivered 23.5 kilonewtons of thrust and obtained their air through an air inlet in the back of the machine. An R-11 engine took care of the cruise. The first flight took place on June 16, 1966. On the basis of this version, the "23-01" with lift engines was created, which flew for the first time in April 1967.

War effort

An R-3 air-to-air missile and a UB-16 missile container on the wing of a MiG-21

The various MiG-21s were used in numerous local conflicts and wars. In the fighting between India and Pakistan there were surprising results when the Indian MiGs successfully pursued the Pakistani F-104 and accelerated it. Up until now it was believed in the West that the F-104 would hardly have a chance in cornering combat, but thanks to its flight performance it would be able to escape a MiG-21, here it became clear that the MiGs can even overtake the F-104 and shoot it down. There were also signs that future aerial battles would not take place at Mach 2 and in the stratosphere - a mistake that East and West had to recognize. The Indian pilot Soni achieved such a launch on December 13, 1971 via the F-104A of the Pakistani Middlecoat with the GSch-23 cannon installed in the GP-9 container. An unknown Indian pilot was shot down again four days later with an R-3S missile. The Starfighter pilot Samad Changezi was killed in the crash.

The most important example is certainly the Vietnam War . In this conflict, the advantages and shortcomings of the type were most evident, as one could count on well-trained pilots here. The main adversary was the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. Due to the fact that both sides announced false kill numbers, it is not exactly clear which type was ultimately superior to the other. What is certain is that the F-4 had the more powerful electronics, while the MiG-21 was much more manoeuvrable above 6000 meters. Further advantages of the MiG-21 were the better visibility of the pilot, since it was less installed, and the more favorable thrust-to-mass ratio. From this it can be deduced that the MiG-21 was superior to the F-4 in close air combat, while the F-4 had an advantage over long distances. The fact that the F-4 - at least in its early variants - lacked any cannon armament and rockets below 2000 m in height proved to be almost unusable at that time, as they were no longer the targets in front of the earth's shadow, had a particularly serious effect in dogfighting found. According to US data, the launch ratio was 3: 1 in favor of the MiG-21. However, this may also have been due to the fact that North Vietnam never had more than 40 operational MiG-21s and thus there were hardly any targets for US aircraft, but conversely, the MiGs sometimes offered hundreds of targets at the same time and the ground control took them to the apparently simplest could lead. In addition, it must be taken into account that the majority (approx. 2/3) of the North Vietnamese aircraft were outdated MiG-17 and MiG-19. Although these were inferior to any US fighter aircraft in terms of performance, they had a very strong cannon armament and great maneuverability. Since the aerial battles did not take place at high altitudes, as expected in the East and West, North Vietnam was also able to use these old types very efficiently. Most of Northern Vietnam's aces flew the MiG-17F. True to Soviet tactics, the MiGs were guided from the ground to the targets that appeared to be the most vulnerable. This close connection of the fighters to their ground control only works over their own area, of course, but saves the MiGs heavy electronics and large radar systems, but also leads to short ranges. The MiGs were only intended for defense and therefore had only a short range, which made them lighter and more maneuverable and ultimately made them superior to the heavy American aircraft, which had to carry large tanks and extensive electronics. It was a happy coincidence for North Vietnam that the available MiG-21s also belonged to the MiG-21F-13 version, which still had a powerful 30 mm cannon. According to US data, 50% of all aerial battles in close-range combat were decided by gunfire. The cannonless MiG-21PF were not used in North Vietnam due to experience from aerial battles. The launch ratio according to US data of 3: 1 in favor of the MiG-21 is doubtful, however, since many kills must also be granted to older MiGs, which in real air combat at subsonic speed did not do worse than the more modern MiG-21s, but of these in subsonic aerial combat at low altitudes on the radar of US aircraft were hardly distinguishable. The US Air Force was also hardly willing to admit that such old aircraft from the mid-1950s were so successful in shooting down the supposedly high-tech US aircraft.

In the conflicts between the Arab states and Israel , the MiG-21 underlined its efficiency. However, the level of training of the pilots who faced each other was very different here. The machines are also equipped. As can be read in the list of types above, there were weaker export versions for each variant of the aircraft. These aircraft were not seriously worse, but had a less good resolution of the radar, slower computing speed and less precise aiming devices, less fuel capacity and throttled engines, which limited the combat value. According to Israeli information, on September 13, 1973, 13 Syrian MiG-21s were shot down in an aerial battle off the Syrian coast, with the loss of only one Israeli Mirage IIIC aircraft .


The MiG-21 was exported to 43 countries. China , India and Czechoslovakia also produced the type under license. China continued to develop the aircraft until the 1990s and is still mass-producing it. The machine, typified there as the J-7, equips a large part of the Chinese fighter pilots' associations. In states that did not belong to the Warsaw Pact and whose ties to the West allowed arms relations, the MiG-21 was combined with Western weapons.

The MiG-21 became one of the largest numbers of jet aircraft in the world and was flown in countries from the first to third worlds. In the arsenal of the US Air Force, MiG-21s exist under the designation YF-110 . Ironically, the F-4 Phantom , the main opponent of the MiG-21 in Vietnam, was originally designated the F-110 Specter by the USAF.

In 1993 the most recent improvement program to date for the MiG-21 was launched on behalf of the Indian Air Force . It mainly includes a new radar and new weapon systems, so that the AMRAAM comparable R-77 can be fired. The conversion affected a series of 123 machines.

User states

MiG-21 of the Kazakh Air Force
  • Afghanistan : Before the Soviet invasion from the end of 1979 about 30 MiG-21PFM / U were delivered, during the war about 80 MiG-21bis / UM / R were delivered. In 1998 it was estimated that the Taliban had 50 MiG-21bis and ten MiG-21UM and the Northern Alliance 35 MiG-21bis, one MiG-21 crashed on a training flight to celebrate the overthrow of the communist regime, since then none have flown in Afghanistan MiG-21 more.
  • Egypt : The air forces of the United Arab Republic (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Gomhouriya al Arabiye) received the MiG-21 from the early 1960s. At the beginning of the Six Day War in 1967 there were 163 aircraft of the versions F-13 and PF / FL in Egypt's inventory; but most of them weredevastated in Israel's surprise attack on June 5th. There were also losses in the air during the war and during the months that followed. On September 11, 1970, there was a major encounter between MiG-21s and Israeli fighter planes, in which the Israelis shot down seven MiG-21s with only one loss of their own - a Mirage III . Soviet pilots also flew combat missions in Egyptian machines. They were mostly limited to covering the take-offs and landings of MiG-25 reconnaissance aircraft that operated from the Sinai Peninsula from March 1971. When, on July 30th, five MiG-21s with Egyptian license plates but Soviet pilots were shot down, Israel referred to these pilots as "Egyptians".
After the end of the Six Day War, Egypt replaced its losses with the newer MiG-21PFM, which were later supplemented by the M and MF versions. The MiG-21R reconnaissance aircraft, which were also procured, were modified to the RF version by relocating the camera equipment from the external container to the interior of the fuselage. The ČSSR also delivered 26 MiG-21F-13s licensed as S-106. In total, before the beginning of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 , the Egyptian Air Force had around 200 MiG-21s, the number of which decreased drastically after the start of the fighting. Exact loss figures are not known; the information from the western, eastern and Arab sides differed greatly.
During the subsequent Israeli-Egypt rapprochement and the ensuing fighting between Libya and Egypt in 1977, the Egyptian pilots achieved several aerial victories against incoming Libyan formations ; They lost at least one MiG-21 to Mirage 5 in further fighting . In 1979 an Egyptian MiG-21 shot down a Libyan MiG-23 .
From the beginning of the 1980s, Egypt carried out regular modernization measures for its MiG-21 fleet with western technology. The necessary maintenance and repair work was carried out abroad; most of it was carried out in the Dresden aircraft yard until 1990 . The Egyptian MiG-21s were and will be serviced abroad, especially the Czech Republic, Romania and the Ukraine, until 2008, so that Egypt - including the Chinese version F-7 - still had around 100 aircraft of the RF, MF and UM versions should have.
  • Albania : The Air Force of Albania (Forcat Ushtarake Ajrore Shqipetare) did not have a MiG-21 in its inventory, but the Federal Republic of Germany delivered several Tumanski-R-11F-, R-11F-2-S- and R at the beginning of the 1990s -11F-2-SK engines from stocks of the dissolved NVA for the ten (twelve?) F-7A supplied by China in 1970, the engines of which had suffered greatly from the long period of operation. They were stationed first in Tirana , then from 1974 with the 5646th Regiment in Gjadër and from 2002 at Tirana Airport . After the Albanian government decided to abolish all fixed-wing aircraft of the air force in 2005, all F-7A were decommissioned in 2006 and scrapping began.
  • Algeria : The air force of Algeria , then a pro-Soviet country, received 37 MiG-21 F-13s from 1965. Most were lost during the Six Day War . Israel was able to capture five of them that accidentally landed on an airfield captured by Israeli troops. They have undergone extensive testing in Israel and the United States. It is likely that FL, PFM, R, M and MF were also delivered to the QJJ later. Around 1976/77 the fleet was expanded by MiG-21bis and two-seat UM. Around 120 aircraft were ready for use during weddings. From the mid-1990s, the MiG-21 was replaced by the MiG-29 and later by the Su-30 , with some aircraft probably being traded in. The last of the around 80 remaining MiGs were decommissioned in 2003
  • Angola : 24 MiG-21MF, from 1981 delivery of 50 MiG-21PFM, from 1985 60 MiG-21bis and twelve MiG-21UM, stationed in Cuito, Luanda, Luena, Menongue and Moçamedes, all out of service
  • Ethiopia : from 1977 48 MiG-21bis delivered by the USSR, later further deliveries, in 1993 there were 30 to 40 machines, retired in 2003
  • Bangladesh : 1973 20 MiG-21MF and two MiG-2UM delivered and stationed on Tezgaon, 1989 16 F-7M and four FT-7, 1999 three F-7MB / FT-7B, 2006 16 F-7BG / FT-7BG
  • Bulgaria : 1963 twelve MiG-21F-13, 1965 twelve MiG-21PF, 1966 twelve MiG-21PFM and one MiG-21U, 1969 twelve MiG-21R and twelve MiG-21M, 1970 three MiG-21M, 1974 29 MiG-21UM, eleven MiG-21MF and nine MiG-21MF-75, 1977/78 36 used MiG-21PFS / PFM, 1982–1985 72 MiG-21bis, the end of the 1980s decommissioning of the MiG-21F-13, 1990 MiG-21M / PF out of service, 1992 MiG-21PFM / US out of service, 1995 MiG-21R out of service, some MiG-21bis have been in service until today and should continue to be used until at least 2015
  • ČSSR : 1962–1973 168 MiG-21F-13 (one type from the USSR, the rest of the company's own production (S-106)), 1964–1965 39 MiG-21MF (1991 out of service), 1965–1966 seven MiG-21U, 1967 four MiG-21U-600, 1966–1968 38 MiG-21PFM, 1968 twelve MiG-21PFM-94N (nuclear), 1969–1971 25 MiG-21R, 1968–1970 13 MiG-21US, 1969–1970 21 MiG-21M ( MA), 1971–1974 65 MiG-21MF, 1973 24 MiG-21UM, 1975–1976 25 MiG-21MF-75, after the split of the ČSFR in 1992 the stocks were divided between the two states
MiG-21MF, Holzdorf, 1990
MiG-21UM of the NVA
  • GDR : The introduction of the first production version MiG-21F-13 in the air forces of the NVA took place at the same time as that of the other states of the Warsaw Pact , including the Soviet Union. From 1962 to 1964, the LSK / LV received a total of 76 aircraft with which the 8 and 9 fighter squadrons and the third squadron of the JG-3 were equipped. From 1965 the school twin-seaters MiG-21U-400 and U-600 were available, so that prospective fighter pilots no longer had to switch directly from the subsonic trainer L-29 (in the JG-9 from the MiG-15 UTI) to the single-seat F-13. The MiG-21F-13 was replaced by the more modern MiG-21PF and PFM / SPS after a relatively short period of use and handed over to the fighter pilot schools by the early 1970s. Only the JG-3 kept its third squadron until 1974. In the same year, the reconnaissance squadron AFS-31 (later TAFS-47), whose F-13s were equipped with AFA-39 cameras instead of the right landing light, was set up. These aircraft were in service until 1985. The U-400 and U-600 trainers were stillflownby Fighter Pilot Training Wing 15 until March 1990.
The use of this 1st generation of the MiG-21 was, due to the novelty of the design - the MiG-21 was the first Mach-2 fighter of the GDR air force - associated with some technical problems. The R-11 F-300 engine overheated easily and usually failed when the missiles were fired, so it had to be restarted. In the summer of 1974, all engines of this design were blocked due to a few broken fuel pump drive shafts and all shafts were replaced. When catapulting at low heights, the cabin roof had to be thrown off manually beforehand. If that didn't happen, the canopy could easily become a deadly trap for the pilot. Overall, the NVA lost 39 of the 120 F-13s and MiG-21Us deployed in aircraft accidents. Nevertheless, the aircraft was popular with pilots due to its good mass-performance ratio and easy control.
The second generation of the MiG-21 series was introduced at the LSK in 1964 and was the first to include 53 MiG-21PFs, which had an RP-21 "Safir" radio measuring sight and, in contrast to the F-13, which was a pure fair weather hunter, could also be used in difficult meteorological conditions. The cannon armament was replaced by air-to-air missiles and the range increased by additional fuselage tanks. The later machines of this version had an improved radio measurement and electronic equipment and were therefore internally named in the NVA as MiG-21PFM, although only the later version was officially named. The last MiG-21PF were taken out of service in 1987/88 after they had flown with camouflage paintwork and had received minor modifications during major overhauls. 19 aircraft were lost during service, seven people were killed. Twelve MiG-21PF and four school twin-seaters MiG-21U were completely overhauled and given a desert camouflage from 1988 for a planned delivery to Iraq in the Dresden aircraft yard. The political change prevented this transaction, only two school machines - the former 288 and 290 - reached their destination.
In 1966 and 1967, around 84 MiG-21PFMs, referred to in NVA jargon as MiG-21SPS due to the new landing system, were introduced, followed by around 55 SPS-K with cannon armament. When the NVA was dissolved, 45 SPS / SPS-K were still in service. As a two-seat counterpart to the training, 17 MiG-21US served from 1968, of which 13 were still available in 1990.
The third generation of the MiG-21 reached the LSK for the first time in the form of 87 MiG-21M, which were delivered from December 1968 to October 1970. The individual machines differed slightly from one another and were left in natural metal, but were all camouflaged at the beginning of the 1980s. Twelve of these MiG-21Ms of the JG-8 were brought to Syria in October 1973, along with technical personnel and pilots, in Soviet transports to help offset the losses suffered during the Yom Kippur War . At Aleppo airport , the MiGs were given a desert camouflage and Syrian national emblems, flown in by the pilots of the JG-8 and handed over to the Syrian army (see also secret operation Aleppo ). When the NVA was disbanded, 56 MiG-21Ms were still in use with JG-2 and - used as reconnaissance aircraft - with TAFS-47 and TAFS-48. From 1972 to 1975 the more powerful version MiG-21MF reached the NVA in the form of 62 aircraft. They were delivered from the factory in the camouflage customary for the NVA (NVA jargon: MiG-21MF = MiG-21 with color), with the exception of the last twelve machines, which came from a construction lot originally intended for Vietnam and therefore had corresponding paintwork and emblems. The dissolution of the NVA saw 47 MiG-21MFs, all of which were scrapped or given to museums. The NVA received 37 units of the MiG-21UM school double-seater belonging to the MiG-21M / MF from 1971 to 1978, 36 of which were still available in 1990.
The last and most powerful version of the NVA was the MiG-21bis belonging to the 4th MiG generation, which was delivered from 1975. Machines with different equipment were flown, which NVA internally differentiated as MiG-21bis Lasur and MiG-21bisSAU. The MiGs flew with the JG-9 for a while, but were later all handed over to the JG-8, which from the 1980s was the only LSK / LV association equipped with this version. In 1990 14 Lasur and 27 SAU were taken over into the Bundeswehr inventory and retired in 1992/93.
The maintenance of all machines took place in the aircraft yard in Dresden. Improvements have also been made here, such as the installation of dirt deflectors under the anti-pompage flaps on the air inlet or the installation of a drainage pipe on the tail of the aircraft to divert fuel residues .
The GDR procured a total of 557 MiG-21s of the various versions. Of these, 126 were lost, a loss rate of almost 23%. There were at least 54 fatalities.
MiG-21bis, Air Force of Finland
  • Finland : 21 MiG-21F-13 delivered in 1963, a MiG-21F-13 as a replacement for a plane that crashed on May 20, 1964 in 1964, two MiG-21U-400s in 1965, two MiG-21UM each in 1974 and 1981, two MiGs in 1978 -21bis, 1980 18 MiG-21bis, 1985 and 1986 three MiG-21bis each, six MiG-21bis converted to reconnaissance MiG-21bisT, 1986 all MiG-21F-13 out of service, 1981 MiG-21U-400 out of service, 1998 last Finnish MiG-21 decommissioned.
  • Guinea : 1986 5-8 single-seater and 1 double-seater delivered, 2004 single-seater crashed, 2007 double-seater crashed.
  • India : India received six MiG-21F-13s in 1963 and four in 1964, which went to No 28 Squadron. A total of up to 48 MiG-21F-13s were delivered. In 1968 the first decommissioning took place. 1964 came two MiG-21PF (as prototypes for production at HAL ), 1965 18 MiG-21U, from 1967 to 1973 195 MiG-21FL from HAL, 1973 two MiG-21M (prototype for HAL), from 1973 to 1981 158 MiG -21M (manufactured by HAL under license), from 1977 75 MiG-21bis and from 1977 to 1984 220 MiG-21bis from HAL. Furthermore, 80 to 90 two-seater were procured. In 1994/95 completely overhauled MiG-21U-440 and U-600 from Hungary followed and in 2003 19 used MiG-21UM from Kyrgyzstan . From 2001 the modernization of the MiG-21bis to MiG-21bis UPG "Bison" (at No. 3/4/21/23/32/51 and part of the 35 Squadron) took place. From 1988 to 1998 there were 160 losses. Around 200 were still in stock in 1998, which are to be replaced by LCA Tejas and a new MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft). On December 11, 2013, India officially decommissioned its MiG-21FL.
  • Indonesia : 1962 20 MiG-21F-13sdeliveredby the USSR , used in the conflict with Malaysia in 1963–1966, decommissioned in 1967, one example on display in the museum
  • Iraq up to 100 MiG-21PFM / MF / U and: J-7 supplied with French R.550 Magic equipped in the conflict with Iran and during Desert Storm used
  • Yemen : about 70 MiG-21F / MF / bis delivered, the MiG-21 is used by the Yemeni Air Force today.
  • Yugoslavia : approx. 120 MiG-21F / MF / bis / R, distributed among the successor states
  • Cambodia : 1989 21 used MiG-21bis and three MiG-21UM were delivered from the Soviet Union,stationedin Phnom-Penh Pochentong , support by the SU was discontinued after delivery, two machines were lost due to accidents, 1996 contract with IAI for the conversion of twelve MiG-21bis and two MiG-21UM to MiG-21-2000, due to lack of funds only two machines converted
  • Republic of the Congo : 1980–1986 twelve MiG-21bis and four MiG-21UM from the Soviet Union,stationedon Base 02 in Pointe-Noire , presumably flightless
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo : six MiG-21PFM from Yugoslaviadelivered to Gbadolite airfield, no longer assembled
  • Croatia : 22 MiG-21bis, four MiG-21UM from Poland, 2003-04 modernization of eight MiG-21bis (to MiG-21bisD) and four MiG-21UM at Aerostar in Romania. In 2018, Croatia bought twelve used F-16s from the Israeli armed forces. After a general overhaul, delivery was planned for the years 2020 to 2022. This was intended to replace twelve MiG-21s or the training version 'Mongol' (Croatia has four of them). However, Israel could not guarantee that the resale to Croatia would be approved by the US. Therefore, the aircraft were not purchased.
  • Cuba : 1962 start of delivery of 30 MiG-21F-13s from the Soviet Union, 1966 40 MiG-21PFMA and MiG-21U, 1968 MiG-21M / R / US, 1972–1974 35 MiG-21MF and 18 MiG-21UM, 1976 –1980 80 MiG-21bis, stationed at the bases Camagüey , Guantanamo los Canos , Moa , Playa Baracoa , San Antonio de los Baños , Sancti Spíritus and Santa Clara , today twelve MiG-21bis and some MiG-21UM still in service
  • Laos : 1977 twelve MiG-21PFM from the Soviet Union, 1980 twelve MiG-21bis and two MiG-21UM,stationedin Wattay , 20 machines still in service
  • Libya : 1974 400 MiG-21s offered by the USSR, only 64 MiG-21bis and MiG-21UMs ordered, used for training Palestinian, Yemeni and Sudanese pilots, some machines to Syria, used in the war against Chad
  • Madagascar : Twelve MiG-21bisSAU and two MiG-21UM delivered in 1978,stationedin Ivato , no longer in service with the Armée de l'Air Malgache
  • Mali : twelve MiG-21bis and two MiG-21UM delivered in the 1980s, now out of service, two MiG-21MF-75 and one MiG-21MFN delivered from the Czech Republic in 2005, a MiG-21MF-75 crashed in 2007
  • Mozambique : 1984/85 40 MiG-21bis and six MiG-21UM delivered andstationedin Beira , Maputo , Nacala and Nampula , 8 machines modernized in Romania by Aerostar 2013/2014
  • Mongolia : The Mongolian Air Force had 24 MiG-21PFM and three MiG-21US from 1979, decommissioned in 1993
  • Myanmar : 1991 ten J-7B and two JT-7 from China, stationed at the Hmawbi and Mingaladon bases, later further deliveries of up to 42 J / JT-7
  • Namibia : 2005 two MiG-21bis and one MiG-21UM, former Cambodian MiG-21, overhauled by IAI, 2006 two JT-7NG and 2008 six or twelve J-7NM from China
  • Nigeria : 25 MiG-21MF and six MiG-21UM procured in 1975, later twelve MiG-21bis, at least eleven machines lost due to crashes, all machines out of service since the late 1980s
  • North Korea ( Air Force ) : since the mid-1960s between 150 and 200 MiG-21F / FM, 30 MiG-21 from Kazakhstan , further J-7 from China
  • Pakistan : from 1988 delivery of up to 80 J-7P and 15 JT-7P, stationed at No. 2 Squadron ( Masroor ), No. 18 and 19 ( Mianwali ) and No. 20 ( Rafiqui ), from 2001 delivery of 57 J-7PG and nine JT-7PG to No. 17 and No. 23 Squadron in Samungli and No. 20, the aircraft are equipped with western avionics and western weapon systems
  • Poland : 505 MiG-21F-13 / PF / PFM / R / M / MF / bis, 77 MiG-21U / US / UM procured
A Romanian MiG-21 in Câmpia Turzii 2016
  • Romania : 1989 approx. 150 MiG-21 in stock, by 2002 110 Elbit aircraft modernized at AEROSTAR ( helmet visor , radar, target container, reconnaissance pods , Israeli guided weapons Python3 ), stationed at Baza 71 Aeriana in Câmpia Turzii (711, 712 Esc), Baza 86 Aeriana in Borcea-Feteşti (861, 862 Esc) and Baza 95 Aeriana in Bacǎu (951 Esc, supersonic training center)
  • Zambia : In 1980 16 MiG-21bis and two MiG-21UM were delivered andstationedat Lusaka International Airport and in Livingstone , one machine was lost in a crash, eight MiG-21bis and two MiG-21UM were overtaken at IAI in the mid-1990s and partially modernized, decommissioned
  • Serbia : 21 MiG-21bis and seven MiG-21UM from the holdings of the former Yugoslav People's Army
  • Slovakia : eight MiG-21R, 13 MiG-21M, 36 MiG-21MF, two MiG-21UF, eleven MiG-21UM, twelve MiG-21F-13, eleven MiG-21PFM, two MiG-21U were taken over from the ČSFR air force , 1998 38 machines still in service, 1999 26 machines, 2000 16 machines, 2001 13 machines, 2002 decommissioned
  • Zimbabwe : Twelve J-7Bs in 1986 and two JT-7BZs from China in 1991,stationedat Gweru-Thornhill Air Base
  • Somalia : ten MiG-21MF and some MiG-21U procured, condition and whereabouts uncertain
  • Sri Lanka : four J-7IIs procured and sold to No. 5 Squadronstationedat the Katunayake base
  • Sudan : 16 MiG-21PFM were delivered
  • Syria : over 225 MiG-21PF / MF / bis procured
  • Tanzania : 1974 14 MiG-21MF and two MiG-21UM delivered from the SU andstationedfirst in Ngerengere , later in Mwanza , used in the war against Uganda, three planes were lost and several were captured
  • Czech Republic : four MiG-21M, 52 MiG-21MF, twelve MiG-21R, five MiG-21US and 19 MiG-21UM were taken over from the ČSFR air force, in 1999 31 MiG-21MF and seven MiG-21UM in service, in 2000 ten MiG -21MF modernized to MiG-21MFN, two MiG-21MF, six MiG-21MFN and two MiG-21UM still in service in 2004, officially out of service in 2005
  • Uganda : 1972–1975 16 MiG-21MF and three MiG-21UM delivered from the USSR andstationedin Entebbe ,seven Air Force aircraft destroyedthere in the Israeli commando operation in 1976, further aircraft lost in the war against rebels and Tanzania or captured by Tanzania, 1999 six MiG-21bis and one or two MiG-21UM delivered from Poland (modernized at IAI)
  • Hungary : In the former Hungarian People's Army, a total of 261 copies of the different MiG-21 versions were operated. After the ground crew and pilots had completed their instruction courses in Krasnodar between February and August 1961, Hungary received the first 40 MiG-21F-13s (product 74, издeлие 74) the following October.
Hungarian MiG-21bis (1993)
    • The MiG-21s of the Hungarian Air Force were stationed in three aviation regiments:
      • 31st Kapos Harcászati ​​Repülőezred - 31st "Kapos" Tactical Regiment, Taszár (Southwest Hungary)
      • 47th Pápa Harcászati ​​Repülőezred - 47th "Pápa" Tactical Regiment, Pápa (northwestern Hungary )
      • 59th Szentgyörgyi Dezső Harcászati ​​Repülőezred - 59th "Szentgyörgyi Dezső" Tactical Regiment, Kecskemét (Central Hungary)
    • The number of flown MiG-21s by version:
      • 80 F-13 (29 casualties)
      • 24 PF (7 losses)
      • 50 MF (9 losses)
      • 62 bis (version 75A: 15, 7 losses; version 75AP: 47, 13 losses)
      • 18 U (3 losses)
      • 27 UM (6 losses)
    • Of the 83 pilots involved in accidents, 51 were able to save themselves with the ejection seat. The Hungarian Air Force put the last copies of the MiG-21 out of service in September 2000. The four MiG-21bis (version 75AP) formed the aerobatic team "Himmelshusaren", which first appeared in 1991 at the first "Taszár Air Show". The following year, the aerobatics were invited abroad for the first time, to Great Britain. An "aggressor machine" was painted yellow and was named "Cápeti". No. 1874 (bis) is in the Gerhard Neumann Museum in Germany, No. 4406 (MF) was exhibited in Graz-Thalerhof.
  • USA : 1968 one MiG-21F-13deliveredfrom Israel , 1965 ten MiG-21F-13 (YF-110B) from Indonesia, 1978 16 MiG-21MF (YF-110D) from Egypt, 1987 twelve F-7B (YF-110C) from China, all machinesstationedin Tonopah as part of Operation Constant Peg , approx. 40 machines at private operators
  • Vietnam : 1965 first MiG-21F-13 to the 912th fighter regiment in Nôi Bai , 1966 first MiG-21PF / PFM, 1969 first MiG-21MF, from 1978 MiG-21bis SAU and MiG-21UM, presumed total number 150 aircraft, inaccurate number of losses in the Vietnam War

Technical specifications

Parameter MiG-21F (Product 72) / MiG-21F13 (Product 74) MiG-21M (Product 96) MiG-21MF (Product 96F) MiG-21SPS / SPS-K (product 94 / 94K)
crew 1
length 15.76 m 13.85 m
span 7.15 m
height 4.10 m 4.12 m 4.13 m
Wing area 22.95 m² 23.00 m² 22.95 m²
Wing extension 2.23 2.22 2.23
Wing loading
  • minimum: 217 kg / m²
  • nominal: k. A.
  • maximum: 376 kg / m²
  • minimum: 259 kg / m²
  • nominal: k. A.
  • maximum: 409 kg / m²
  • minimum: 261 kg / m²
  • nominal: 357 kg / m²
  • maximum: 409 kg / m²
  • minimal: k. A.
  • nominal: k. A.
  • maximum: 339 kg / m²
Empty mass 4870 kg 5950 kg 6000 kg 5411 kg
normal takeoff mass 7110 kg 8950 kg 8200 kg 7575 kg
Max. Takeoff mass 8625 kg 9400 kg 9080 kg
Fuel supply
  • internal: 2470 l
  • external: 490 l
k. A.
  • normal: 2650 l
  • maximum 4070 l
normal: 2750 l
Top speed 2125 km / h (at 12,500 m altitude)
  • 2230 km / h (at an altitude of 11,000 m)
  • 1100 km / h (at sea level)
  • 2230 km / h (at an altitude of 11,000 m)
  • 1300 km / h (at sea level)
2175 km / h
Marching speed 1100 km / h k. A. 1200 km / h 1250 km / h
Landing speed 260-270 km / h 270 km / h 230 km / h
Rate of climb 130 m / s k. A. 180 m / s 210 m / s
Service ceiling 17,500 m 18,500 m 19,000 m 19,900 m
  • normal: 1300 km
  • maximum: 1640 km
  • normal: 1100 km
  • maximum: 1800 km
  • normal: 1370 km
  • maximum: 1800 km
Take-off run 800 m k. A. k. A. 850-1350 m
Landing runway
  • with umbrella: 550 m
  • without umbrella: 1100 m
k. A. 550 m 420-500 m
Engine (here for NVA) a Tumanski R-11 F-300 turbojet a Tumanski R-11-F2SK-300 turbojet

or after conversion 1 × R-13-300

a Tumanski R- 13-300 turbojet a Tumanski R-11-F2S-300 turbojet
  • with afterburner: 57.48 kN
  • without afterburner: 38.25 kN
  • with afterburner: 60.60 kN
  • without afterburner: 38.30 kN
  • with afterburner: 60.70 kN
  • without afterburner: 40.30 kN
  • with afterburner: 56.40 kN
  • without afterburner: 42.25 kN
Thrust-to-weight ratio
  • maximum: 1.18
  • nominal: k. A.
  • minimum: 0.68
  • maximum: 1.04
  • nominal: k. A.
  • minimum: 0.66
  • maximum: 1.03
  • nominal: 0.75
  • minimum: 0.66
  • maximum: k. A.
  • nominal: k. A.
  • minimum: 0.74


Armament Options MiG-21F-13 (Product 74)

Fixed guns
Gun loading of 1000 kg at two external load stations
Air-to-air guided missile
  • 2 × APU-13M1 start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-3S (K-13 or AA-2A "Atoll") each - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances
Unguided missiles
  • 2 × UB-16-57U missile tube launch containers with 16 × unguided S-5 air-to -surface missiles each ; Caliber 57 mm
  • 2 × PU-12-40U missile launch rails for one unguided S-24 (ARS-240) air-to-surface missile each; Caliber 240 mm
Free fall bombs
  • 2 × FAB-500 (500 kg free fall bomb )
  • 2 × FAB-250 (250 kg free fall bomb)
  • 2 × FAB-100 (100 kg free fall bomb)
  • 2 × ZB-360 (345 kg napalm bomb )
External container

Armament Options MiG-21PFM (Product 94)

Gun loading of 1000 kg at five external load stations
Air-to-air guided missile
  • 2 × APU-7 / 7D start rails for one Gruschin RS-2US (AA-1 "Alkali" or Kaliningrad K-5M) each - beam-guided, radar-controlled for medium-haul routes
  • 2 × APU-13 start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-3S (K-13 or AA-2A "Atoll") each - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances
Unguided missiles
  • 2 × UB-16-57U missile tube launch containers with 16 × unguided S-5 air-to -surface missiles each ; Caliber 57 mm
  • 2 × PU-12-40U missile launch rails for one unguided S-24 air-to-surface missile each (ARS-240); Caliber 240 mm
Free fall bombs
  • 2 × FAB-250 (250 kg free fall bomb)
  • 2 × FAB-100 (100 kg free fall bomb)
External container

Armament options MiG-21SPS / SPS-K (product 94K)

Fixed guns
Gun loading of 1000 kg at five external load stations
Air-to-air guided missile
  • 2 × APU-7 / 7D start rails for one Gruschin RS-2US (AA-1 "Alkali" or Kaliningrad K-5M) each - beam-guided, radar-controlled for medium-haul routes
  • 2 × APU-13MT start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-3S (K-13 or AA-2A "Atoll") each - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances
  • 2 × APU-60-1 start rails for 1 × Wympel R-60 M each (R-62-1M or AA-8 "Aphid") - infrared controlled, self-targeting for short distances
  • 2 × RBP-2-R-3S (Monsun) for 2 × APU-13MT start rails each for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-3S (K-13 or AA-2A "Atoll") - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances
Unguided missiles
  • 2 × UB-16-57U missile tube launch containers with 16 × unguided S-5 air-to -surface missiles each ; Caliber 57 mm
  • 2 × APU-7D / APU-68 rocket launcher for an unguided S-24 air-to-surface missile (ARS-240); Caliber 240 mm
Free fall bombs
  • 2 × FAB-500 (500 kg free fall bomb )
  • 2 × FAB-250 (250 kg free fall bomb)
  • 2 × FAB-100 (100 kg free fall bomb)
  • 2 × ZB-360 (345 kg napalm bomb )
External container

Armament Options MiG-21M (Product 96)

Fixed guns
Gun loading of 1000 kg at five external load stations
Air-to-air guided missile
  • 2 × APU-7 / 7D / 68 start rails for 1 × Gruschin RS-2US each (AA-1 "Alkali" or Kaliningrad K-5M) - beam-guided, radar-controlled for medium distances
  • 2 × APU-13MT start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-3S (K-13 or AA-2A "Atoll") each - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances
  • 2 × APU-13MTÄ start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-13M (K-13M or AA-2D "Advanced Atoll") - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances (only inner suspension points)
Air-to-surface guided missile
Unguided missiles
  • 4 × UB-16-57U rocket tube launch containers with 16 × unguided S-5 air-to -surface rockets each ; Caliber 57 mm
  • 2 × UB-32-A73 rocket tube launch containers for 32 × unguided air-to-surface missiles S-5 ; Caliber 57 mm (only inner suspension points)
  • 2 × APU-7D / APU-68 rocket launcher for one unguided S-24 air-to-ground missile each (ARS-240); Caliber 240 mm
Free fall bombs
  • 2 × FAB-500 (500 kg free fall bomb )
  • 2 × FAB-250 (250 kg free fall bomb)
  • 2 × MBD-2-68 multiple bomb carriers, each with 2 × FAB-100 (100 kg free-fall bomb) - MBD on the inner suspension points
  • 2 × MBD-2-68 multiple bomb carriers, each with 2 × Basalt OFAB-100 (100 kg free-fall fragmentation bomb )
  • 2 × ZB-360 (345 kg napalm bomb )
External container
  • 1 × additional PTB-800 tank for 800 liters of kerosene
  • 3 × additional fuel tank PTB-490 for 490 liters of kerosene
  • 2 × SPRD-99 (jump start rockets)

Armament Options MiG-21MF (Product 96F)

Fixed guns
Gun loading of 1000 kg at five external load stations
Air-to-air guided missile
  • 2 × APU-13MT start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-3S each (K-13 or AA-2A "Atoll") - infrared guided, self-targeting for short distances (only inner suspension points)
  • 2 × APU-7 / 7D / 68 start rails each for 1 × Gruschin RS-2US (AA-1 "Alkali" or Kaliningrad K-5M) - beam-steered, radar-controlled for medium distances (only outer suspension points)
  • 2 × APU-13MTÄ start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-13M (K-13M or AA-2D "Advanced Atoll") - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances (only inner suspension points)
  • 4 × APU-60-1 start rails for 1 × Wympel R-60 (K-60 or AA-8 "Aphid") each - infrared controlled, self-targeting for short distances
  • 2 × APU-60-2 double start rails for 2 × Wympel R-60 (K-60 or AA-8 "Aphid") each - infrared controlled, self-targeting for short distances
Air-to-surface guided missile
Unguided missiles
  • 4 × UB-16-57U rocket tube launch containers with 16 × unguided S-5 air-to -surface rockets each ; Caliber 57 mm
  • 2 × UB-32-A73 rocket tube launch containers for 32 × unguided air-to-surface missiles S-5 ; Caliber 57 mm (only inner suspension points)
  • 2 × APU-7D / APU-68 rocket launcher for one unguided S-24 air-to-ground missile each (ARS-240); Caliber 240 mm
Free fall bombs
  • 2 × FAB-500 (500 kg free fall bomb )
  • 2 × FAB-250 (250 kg free fall bomb)
  • 2 × MBD-2-67U multiple bomb carriers, each with 4 × FAB-100 (100 kg free-fall bomb) - MBD on the inner suspension points
  • 2 × MBD-2-67U multiple bomb carriers, each with 4 × Basalt OFAB-100 (100 kg free-fall fragmentation bomb ) - MBD on the inner suspension points
  • 2 × ZB-360 (345 kg napalm bomb )
External container
  • 1 × additional PTB-800 tank for 800 liters of kerosene
  • 3 × additional fuel tank PTB-490 for 490 liters of kerosene
  • 2 × SPRD-99 (jump start rockets)

Armament Options MiG-21bis (Product 75)

Fixed guns
Gun loading of 1000 kg at five external load stations
Air-to-air guided missile
  • 2 × APU-60-2 double start rails for 2 × Wympel R-60 MK (K-60 or AA-8 "Aphid") each - infrared-controlled, self-targeting for short distances
  • 4 × APU-60-1 start rails for 1 × Wympel R-60 MK (K-60 or AA-8 "Aphid") each - infrared-controlled, self-targeting for short distances
  • 4 × APU-13U-2 start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-3R (K-13R or AA-2C "Atoll") - semi-active, radar-guided for short distances
  • 4 × APU-13MTÄ start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-13M (K-13M or AA-2D "Advanced Atoll") - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances
  • 4 × APU-13 / APU-13W / APU-13D / APU-13M1 / APU-13U2 -start rails for 1 × GMKB Wympel R-3S (K-13 or AA-2A "Atoll") - infrared-guided, self-targeting for short distances
Special weapons
  • 1 × fuselage intermediate carrier BD3-66-21N for 1 × nuclear 5-kt free-fall bomb 244N
External container

Preserved copies

A MiG-21 partially restored in the style of the air force of the National People's Army is in the MV technology park in Grimmen (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania).


Western observers saw the MiG-21 for the first time during an air parade in Tushino in 1961 . "Fishbed" became their NATO code name ; Western military officials could only speculate about their efficiency.

In 1966, during the Vietnam War , a United States Air Force fighter plane met a MiG-21 for the first time . The pilot of an F-105 Thunderchief later said the MiG had approached him so quickly that he thought his machine had given up and he had to get out. During the aerial combat , the pilot managed to get behind the MiG in firing position. But then it accelerated and disappeared - it was much faster than the F-105.

The Israeli secret service Mossad succeeded with "Operation Diamond" in convincing an Iraqi pilot to overflow. On August 16, 1966, he fled to Israel on a new MiG-21. Flight tests provided valuable insights: In an aerial battle on April 7, 1967, the Israeli air force shot down six Syrian MiG-21s and did not lose a single aircraft of their own. Israel won the Six Day War (June 1967). A few months later, Israel loaned the MiG to the US. The United States was very interested because of the Vietnam War : Leonid Brezhnev had overthrown Khrushchev at the end of 1964 , pledged military aid to North Vietnam in February 1965 and soon after delivered modern weapons (including MiG-21s) there.

At the end of October 1991 the Croatian army pilot Rudolf Perešin fled a MiG-21R of the Yugoslav People's Army in a low flight over the Karawanken to Austria and landed at Klagenfurt Airport . The SFR Yugoslavia disintegrated at that time. The MiG has since been stored in Austria in the Aviation Museum Zeltweg. At the beginning of May 2019 it was dismantled and brought to Croatia by semi-trailer . As a replacement for the storage costs, Croatia has given the Aviation Museum in Zeltweg an identical MiG-21. It was previously unclear who the legal successor of Yugoslavia is to whom it could be issued.

See also


  • Holger Müller: MiG-21. Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-613-03460-0 .
  • Jefim Gordon , Keith Dexter, Dimitri Komissarow: Mikoyan MiG-21. Hinckley, Midland 2008, ISBN 978-1-85780-257-3 .
  • Pyotr Butowski: Military Aircraft of Eastern Europe. (1) Fighters & Interceptors. Hong Kong 1992, ISBN 962-361-028-9 .
  • Wilfried Copenhagen , Rolf Neustädt: The large aircraft type book. Transpress Verlag, Berlin.
  • William Green The Observer's Book of Aircraft. 1967 Edition, Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.
  • Я.Г.Кокушкин, Ю.Ф.Полушкин, В.В.Дубинин, Е.И.Гордон, А.В.Фомин: ОКБ им. А.И.Микояна. Центр Авиации и космонавтики, Москве 2000, ISBN 5-93316-004-0 . (Translation: Yes. G. Kokuschkin, Ju. F. Poluschkin, WW Dubinin, EI Gordon, AF Fomin: The Mikoyan Design Office , Aerospace Center, Moscow 2000)

Web links

Commons : Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Peter R. March: Combat Aircraft Recognition Plymouth Press and Ian Allan Pub., 1998, ISBN 978-1-882663-26-2 , page 83
  2. a b one day - The flying Kalashnikov , Spiegel online, October 15, 2010
  3. ↑ Types of aircraft in the world. Bechtermünz, 1997, ISBN 3-86047-593-2 , p. 632.
  4. FCW Käsmann: World record aircraft . Aviatic Verlag, 1999, ISBN 3-925505-48-2 , p. 132. (double volume)
  5. RP-21 Sapfir on the English Wikipedia
  6. Special features of the MiG21-F-13
  7. Ingo Rehwald: MiG-21-93 - The second life of the "bis". In: Flieger Revue 8/1994. P. 28.
  8. Manfred Jurleit: Types - Mikojan MiG-21 I (USSR). In: Flieger Revue 8/1994. P. 48.
  9. The Mikoyan MiG-21, Chapter 3. Experimental versions (engl.)
  10. Usman Shabbir, Yawar Mazhar: F-104 Starfighter in combat with the Pakistani Air Force. In: Flieger Revue Extra. No. 30, Möller 2010, ISSN  0941-889X , pp. 50-52.
  11. Olaf Groehler: The history of the air war. Military Publishing House of the GDR, 5th edition 1983, p. 697.
  12. Olaf Groehler: The history of the air war. Military Publishing House of the GDR, 5th edition 1983, p. 698.
  13. deAgostini, AIRCRAFT - the encyclopedia of aviation
  14. FliegerRevueExtra 21
  15. FliegerRevueExtra 25
  16. FliegerRevueExtra 34
  17. Holger Müller: MiG-21 in action Part 2: Middle East and Africa. In: Flieger Revue Extra No. 23, Möller 2008, ISSN  0941-889X , pp. 10-13
  18. How Israel Shot Down 5 Russian MiGs in 3 Minutes , The National Interest, April 26, 2018
  19. Holger Müller: MiG-21 in action: Europa 1 in Flieger Revue Extra No. 34, Möller 2011, ISSN  0941-889X , pp. 64-66
  20. Holger Müller: MiG-21 in action Part 2: Middle East and Africa in Flieger Revue Extra No. 23, Möller 2008, ISSN  0941-889X , p. 14/15
  21. Holger Müller, Stefan Büttner: Bulgaria is looking for a replacement for MiG-29. In: Fliegerrevue No. 03/2015, p. 23
  22. Detlef Billig, Manfred Meyer: Aircraft of the GDR - Volume I until 1962. TOM Modellbau, Friedland 2002, ISBN 3-613-02198-6 , pp. 76-78.
  23. ^ Detlef Billig, Manfred Meyer: Aircraft of the GDR - Volume II until 1972. TOM Modellbau, Friedland, 2002, ISBN 3-613-02241-9 , p. 42/43.
  24. ^ Detlef Billig, Manfred Meyer: Airplanes of the GDR - III. Volume until 1990. TOM Modellbau, Friedland 2003, ISBN 3-613-02285-0 , pp. 36–51.
  25. Flug Revue No. 2/2014, p. 51
  26. Scramble. In: scramble.nl. Retrieved January 18, 2020 .
  27. FliegerRevueExtra 20
  28. diepresse.com March 31, 2018
  29. Croatia does not buy F-16 fighter jets from Israel | NZZ . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . ( nzz.ch [accessed on March 5, 2020]).
  30. MiG-21bis for Mozambique. In: Flugrevue. July 7, 2014, accessed July 22, 2014 .
  31. FLUGREVUE 4/2009
  32. www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
  33. Marc Frey : History of the Vietnam War. CH Beck 2006, pp. 109-111. (10th edition 2016, ISBN 978-3-406-69912-2 )
  34. Austria returned the MiG-21 to Croatia orf.at, May 7, 2019.
  35. orf.at, October 17, 2016: MIG jet without a man is still in Austria