Mig-21

 

                

 

In 1961 the Egyptian Air force ordered the Mig-21. The Mig-21 was the first Soviet Mach 2-capable fighter. The Egyptians were not new to supersonic speeds as Egyptian pilots had been flying the Mig-19 Mach 1-capable fighter since 1958. The Mig-21 would be the Egyptian backbone fighter for the next two decades and it would score more than 97% of the Egyptian air-to-air kills during the Egyptian-Israeli wars between 1967 and 1973 and also during the Libyan-Egyptian skirmishes between 1977 and 1979. The Mig-21s replaced the older Mig-17s and Mig-19s in the intercept role. The Mig-21 was a simple and very highly maneuverable fighter armed with 2 R-3S Atolls (AA-2 Atoll) and a 30mm cannon. The first version to enter the EAF service was the Mig-21 F-13 and in 1964 the Mig-21FL entered service. The Mig-21FL was a night fighter version of the Mig-21 F-13. The Egyptian pilots loved the fighter although they had some complaints about it. Most of the Egyptian pilots complained about the range of the aircraft and its armament system.

 

During the 1967 war most of the Egyptian Mig-21s were destroyed on the ground although some of the pilots managed to take off and defend their air bases. During this conflict the Egyptian pilots scored more than 36 air-to-air kills with their Mig-21s. Most of these kills were scored using guns.

 

After the war the Soviet Union supplied Egypt with a large number of Mig-21 fighters to replace those destroyed during the war. In the following years, Egyptian Mig-21s played a very important role in defending Egyptian airspace, especially before the Egyptian missile wall was built. During this period, which is known among Egyptian pilots as the battle of Egypt, Egyptian Mig-21 fighter pilots did their best to defend their airspace and most of the Egyptian top scoring Aces made their names during this period including Ahmed Atif (the first Egyptian pilot to shot down an F-4), Samir Mikael, Ali Wagdi, Hussein Samy and others. (Some Egyptian gun camera shots are provided at the bottom of this page).

 

When the Israelis began hitting deep within Egypt, President Nasser of Egypt called for Russian help and in response the Russians sent many Mig-21MF and SA-3 Sam missiles to Egypt. During the period between 1967 and 1970 the EAF claimed to have shot down more than 50 Israeli fighters with Mig-21s. In 1970 the EAF received the Mig-21MF which was better than the older Mig-21 F-13 and Mig-21FL. Most of these fighters were originally the Russian fighters sent to defend Egypt.

 

During the 1973 war, the Egyptian Mig-21s did very well. These were the best days in its long career with the EAF. At least 90 Israeli fighters were shot down by Egyptian Mig-21s. On 12 December 1973, the last air skirmishes between Israel and Egypt took place over the northern area of the Gulf of Suez just south of the southern entrance of the Suez canal. An Egyptian Mig-21 downed an Israeli F-4 Phantom II after some sharp maneuvers, in which the Egyptian pilot launched his 2 AA-2 Atolls (R-3S) missiles, severely damaging the F-4, before he turned to his guns to down the F-4, whose pilot and navigator were taken as prisoners of war.

 

After the war the Egyptians looked to upgrade their fighters and there was some discussion about equipping Egyptian Mig-21s with new jet engines, but this idea was discarded due to financial problems. In early 1978, Egyptian Mig-21s were upgraded to carry AIM-9P Sidewinder missiles. During the Egyptian-Libyan border skirmishes in 1977, the Egyptians shot down at least 6 Libyan fighters with their Mig-21s, while losing only one near Tripoli to a Libyan SA-6 Sam (this was the last Egyptian aircraft to be lost in combat). On the other hand, the last air kill for the EAF was scored by an Egyptian Mig-21MF flown by Major [Sal...] Mohammad (not sure of his first name). It was against a Libyan Mig-23MS in late 1979.

 

In the early Eighties, Egyptian Mig-21s were heavily modified with advanced American navigation and IFF systems and they were modified to carry advanced ECM systems. Now at least 64 Mig-21MFs and 12 Mig-21R (for photo reconnaissance) are still in service, and the EAF still looks for upgrades for these Mig-21s to keep them flyable and increase their capabilities. The EAF used the Mig-21 F-13, FL, MF, PF, RM and UM.

 

                  

 

Egyptian gun camera shots

 

                                                                   

 

 

A series of photos for an Israeli Mirage-III burning after being hit by Egyptian AA-2 missile from an Egyptian Mig-21.

 

 

A series of photos taken from the gun camera of a Mig-21 when it was chasing an F-4E Phantom II.

 

 

 

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