Mikojan i Guriewicz MiG-21 MFLast change: December 2019
232c Section 1961-09-29
OKB Mikojan and Guriewicz MiG-21 MF
A supersonic fighter aircraft operating in "all weather conditions".
MiG-21 MF type 96 F (A) is a modernized MiG-21 M. It was an export version with the R-13-300 engine and improved equipment. In fact, the changes were small. In practice, however, many countries have purchased this depleted version, and even with R-11 engines. The aircraft was produced in Moscow in the years 1970-1974 and in Gorki in 1975.
MiG-21 MF, despite numerous modifications compared to its predecessors, still belonged to the third generation of MiG-21 aircraft.
MiG-21 MF in Poland. 1972.
In parallel with the MiG-21 M, the MiG-21 MF type 96 A was introduced to the armament. Deliveries lasted from the end of 1972 until 1975. On December 11, 1972, the first 9 machines were delivered. Poland bought a total of 120 (other sources state 116). In 1990, the Polish Army was armed with 106 aircraft.
Buying MiG-21 MF planes may seem strange. We purchased depleted versions. Engines and radar stations as in our version of the MiG-21 M. (R-11 F2S-300 engine, RP-21 MA radar station). The aircraft have R-11 engines instead of the more powerful R-13 engines. At that time, the CCCP industry already produced a better version, the MiG-21 bis, in large quantities. In the article - the history of MiG-21 M - we try to explain this matter.
During delivery, the MiG-21 MF batch from CCCP was brought in, which questioned the quality of the airframe performance (Numerous defects: Corrugations of the hull covering sheets, where they should be smooth. Slightly opening flaps). Division command refused to accept these planes. They were sent to the producer from Malbork. According to unconfirmed information, these aircraft were initially intended for the Vietnam War, but because it was over, they wanted to hand over (sell) Poland. Therefore, the last batch of 20 MiG-21 MF machines was delivered to us exceptionally from Gorki's factories. These aircraft have unusual serial numbers with the so-called prefix 96A00. The planes were accepted on December 11, 1975. These aircraft were no different from the previously delivered MiG-21 MF machines.
The first MiG-21 MF aircraft went to 41 PLM in Malbork in 1973-1974. An interesting fact is that the MiG-21 M, MF planes used in Malbork were the only ones in Poland to carry p-z-Ch-66 missiles and WRe SPS-141 radio battle tanks.
MiG-21 MF aircraft were introduced to the equipment of 4 PLM in Goleniów, 10 PLM in Łak, 11 PLM in Wrocław, 26 PLM in Zegrze Pomorskie, 28 PLM in Słupsk, 34 PLM-MW in Babich Doły, 41 PLM in Malbork.
In 10 PLM in Łask, MiG-21 MF, UM planes arrived relatively late. Training for the new type was based on equipment from 28 PLM and 34 PLM, from which planes were temporarily rented; 10 MiG-21 MF and 2 MiG-21 UM. It was from February to May 1978. The regiment in Łask, had to wait for its own aircraft until 1981, when 20 PLM from Zegrze Pomorskie received 20 MiG-21 MF aircraft. These were mainly aircraft manufactured at the Gorki plant. 10 PLM operated these machines until 1989, when it handed over these planes to 11 PLM in Wrocław.
In 10 PLM, in 1989, there were other changes. All MiG-21 PF aircraft were decommissioned, and in their place were introduced older than previously operated MiG-21 MFs, from the disassembled 2 PLM Kraków in Goleniów, as well as from 41 PLM from Malbork.
In the period from November 1989 to March 1990, 62 PLM received from other regiments MiG-21 MF aircraft, in the number of 24 machines. Mainly from 11 PLM from Wrocław. The planes were 15-18 years old and their failure rate was high. Therefore, in the spring of 1991, it was decided to restore the older version of the MiG-21 PFM to service. The MiG-21 MF, operated for over a year, was transferred to 10 PLM in Łask and 11 PLM in Wrocław.
In 1991, 1 MiG-21 MF was in the state of the 45th Air Experimental Squadron in Modlin.
In the period from 1991 to 1996, 10 PLM in Łask took over almost half of the remaining MiG-21 MF aircraft.
In August 1998, the command of the air force decided to rotate the remaining MiG-21 aircraft in service again. In October 1998, MiG-21 MF aircraft from 41 PLM in Malbork went to 3 PLM (ex 62) in Krzesiny. That is the second time MiG-21 MF aircraft have arrived in Krzesiny.
In 1999, 11 PLMs from Wrocław were dismantled. All operational MiG-21 MF aircraft were transferred to 3 PLM and 10 PLM in Łask. Thanks to this, all MiG-21 MF still in use were concentrated in these two regiments.
In 1999, Poland was admitted to NATO. The result was a change in the structure of aviation. Squadrons and air bases were appointed in place of the regiments.
On January 1, 2001, 3 PLM ceased to exist, and 3 ELT and 31 BLot were replaced. At that time, 3 ELT had over a dozen MiG-21 MF aircraft that were in service until the second half of 2002.
At the turn of 2002/2003, all MiG-21 aircraft were withdrawn from use. 20 MiG-21 MFs were lost during service (3 in disasters, 16 in failures, 1 due to damage).
Combat capabilities of the MiG-21 MF
It must be admitted that there were differences in the combat capabilities of the Polish MiG-21 MF and the Soviet MiG-21 MF and this is not just about engines. We found this statement by one of the former MiG-21 pilots; "I will give you a small example from personal experience. In Astrakhan, I happened to do two flights on "their" MiG-21 MF aircraft. During the tactical exercise, I managed to capture a target descending from a distance of 1 200 m from a height of 1 200 m to 900 m from a distance of 3 km, and I was above it and also descended! He could barely be seen among the disturbances from the ground, and the sandstorm from the sandstorm reached this height, so that visual detection could be forgotten. I have been flying the MiG-21 for more than 17 years, I have been an SSP for 14 years and I will say this: no aircraft in Poland, not even a brand new one (because I was flying on such ones) would not be able to do it even if I saw it visually and put the optical sight reticle on it. "It was the 1980s. This shows that the Soviets were constantly modernizing their avionics equipment. They uploaded new improved algorithms to the used radar stations. Whether they offered modernization to the Polish side, it is not known. But you definitely would have to pay for it.
Until the beginning of 1981, MiG-21 M / MF planes, under combat duty, were prepared in full armament; 2 x RS-2 US + 2 x R-3 S + 200 ammunition for cannons. In 1981, this was changed and the duty team was exhibited so that one aircraft had 2 x RS-2 US, and the other had 2 x R-3 S. An additional pair of missiles was placed on aircraft stands. Cannon ammunition remained unchanged. The pilots themselves did not quite understand this change, but it introduced confusion.
The MiG-21 MF was quickly withdrawn from service in former countries of "people's democracy" (90-ies of the 20th century). But there was one exception, which was Romania. This country was the only one to decide to modernize its MiG-21 aircraft. Decisions were made around 1992. Romania has started cooperation with Israeli companies Aerostar (specialization - unmanned aerial vehicles) and Elbit Systems. Far-reaching modernization covered the MiG-21 M / MF / bis / UM aircraft. On their basis, planes marked MiG-21 Lancer were created, which were modified into three versions: Lancer A - intended for close ground support missions, Lancer B - assault, two-seater, Lancer C - air superiority fighter equipped with the Israeli Elta EL radar station / M 2032. The background to the modernization was the adaptation of aircraft to Western standards, allowing cooperation with NATO aircraft. The machines were able to carry p-p R-73 and Python 3 class missiles and Rafael Litening sights. A total of 36 machines were modernized. The first of these machines took off on August 23, 1995. We could see MiG Lancer aircraft in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in Radom in 2015, just on the 20th anniversary of their entry into service. Machines were presented at static and airborne exhibitions. This was one of their last Lancer aircraft shows, because a few months later Romania acquired General Dynamics F-16 A / B Block 15 MLU aircraft from Portugal, which were modified.
Written by Karol Placha Hetman