Czech MiG-21s Fly Into Retirement

AFTER PROTECTING Czech airspace for over four decades, the last five Czech Republic Air Force MiG-2ls that still remained operational (comprising four MiG-21MFNs and a single MiG-21 UM) made a final, symbolic flight over the country on July 12. The last MiG-21 unit was 211. Takticka Lekta (Tactical Squadron) of 21.Zakladna Taktickeho Letectva (Tactical Wing) at Caslav. The unit has now re-equipped with the Gripen, which formally took over defence of the country’s air space on July 1, now that the type is fully operational.

The aircraft’s farewell flight from Caslav took in a number of air bases, including Namest nad Oslavu, Pardubice and Plzen, before finally landing at Prerov, where they will be stored pending disposal.

The remaining MiG-21 survivors will now be sold off, most probably as museum exhibits or for scrap: one potential buyer from the USA has already shown interest. The Czech Defence Ministry announced on July 13 that it had already sold 21 of the MiG-21s, although the buyer has not been disclosed. A tender will be launched shortly for the sale of the remaining eleven.

Other recent disposals included delivery of MiG-21 MEN 2500 to Prerov on May 28, whilst joining the museum at Kbely were MiG-21 UM 9332 on May 12 and MiG-21 MEN 4405 on July 12.

Following delivery of the first MiG-21 in 1962, a total of 467 aircraft were eventually delivered to Czechoslovakia, of which 106 were destroyed in accidents, killing 42 pilots.

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