On December 27, 2019, the Indian Air Force bade farewell to the last of the beefy MiG-27 attack jets it had dubbed the Bahadur (“Valiant”) in a ceremony held by No. 29 squadron at Jodhpur air station.
The powerful swing-wing jets were a Soviet warplanes license-built by India and upgraded with 2000s-era avionics. Armed with unguided bombs, rockets and an earth-shattering six barreled Gatling guns, the type had seen extensive action during the 1999 Kargil War, blasting Pakistani troops on Himalayan peaks at 18,000 feet above sea level.
Distinguished by its flattened ‘duck bill’ nose leading some pilots to nickname it ‘the Platypus,’ the MiG-27 was not widely exported like the MiG-23 fighter it was spun off from. But aside from combat service in India and Sri Lanka, perhaps it best ought to be remembered for mounting a huge Gatling cannon that threatened to shake the armored warplane apart.
Despite having mass-produced the legendary Il-2 Shturmovik attack plane during World War II, early Soviet Su-7 attacks jets exhibited decidedly lackluster performance and payload—a shortcoming the Soviet Union decided to rectify in the late 1960s.
While the Sukhoi design bureau developed the improved Su-17/Su-20/Su-22 “Fitter” family of supersonic attack jets and the armored, subsonic Su-25 Frogfoot, rival Mikoyan-i-Gurevich opted to create ground-attack model of its forthcoming MiG-23 ‘Flogger’ single-engine fighter. A late-coming Soviet response to the American F-4 Phantom, the MiG-23 was a fast but temperamental beast due to the trickiness of its swing-wing mechanisms.