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Encyclopedia > MiG 21
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21

A MiG-21 at Farnborough 2002
Role Light interceptor
Crew 1
First Flight
Entered Service
Manufacturer MIG MAPO, Russia
Length 15.76 m 51 ft 8.5 in
Wingspan 7.15 m 23 ft 5 1/2 in
Height 4.12 m 13 ft 6.2 in
Wing area m ft
Empty 5350 kg 11,795 lb
Loaded kg lb
Maximum takeoff 9661 kg 21,299 lb
Engines One Tumanskii R-25-300 turbojet
Thrust 7,100 kgf
70 kN
15,700 lbf
Maximum speed 2230 km/h 1385mph
Combat range 450-500 km 280-311miles
Ferry range km miles
Service ceiling 19,000 m 62,366 ft
Rate of climb 7200m/min 23,622 ft/min
Wing loading kg/m lb/ft
Guns One centreline twin-barrelled GSh-23 23mm cannon
Ordnance 2000 kg (4409 lb) on four underwing hardpoints

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (NATO reporting name Fishbed) is a fighter aircraft, originally built by the Mikoyan and Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It is the most common post-World War II aircraft, with the exception of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

The first delta-wing prototype (named Ye-4, written also E-4) flew in 14 June 1956, and the production Mig-21 entered service in early 1959.

The MiG-21 saw frequent action in the Vietnam War and was one of the most advanced aircraft at the time. However, many North Vietnamese aces preferred flying the MiG-19, due to the wingload on the MiG-21's wings. Employing a delta wing configuration, it was the first successful Soviet aircraft combining fighter and interceptor in a single aircraft. It was a lightweight fighter, achieving Mach 2 speed using a relatively low-powered afterburning turbojet, and is thus comparable to the American F-104 Starfighter and French Dassault Mirage III.

MiG-21 3-view

It was also used extensively in Middle East conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s, by the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq against Israel.

It was used also in early stages of the wars in Afghanistan but soon outclassed by the newer MiG-23 and MiG-27.


  • E-4 - first prototype
  • MiG-21 - first series of fighters
  • MiG-21F (prototype E-6T)
  • E-66 - record breaking version
  • MiG-21F-13 - export version (type 74)
  • MiG-21PF - (prototype E-7, type 76)
  • MiG-21FL - (type 77)
  • MiG-21SPS - (East German version)
  • MiG-21PFM
  • MiG-21S - (incorrectly identified by NATO as MiG-21PFMA; E-8, type 88)
  • MiG-21PFV - (North Vietnam version)
  • MiG-21M - (version with R-13 engine)
  • MiG-21MF - (version with R-13 engine)
  • MiG-21SMT - (E-9, block 94 and 96) (version with R-13 engine)
  • MiG-21bis - (version with R-25 engine)
  • MiG-21U - two seater version (type 66), NATO reporting name "Mongol"
  • MiG-21US - two seater version (type 68)
  • MiG-21UM - two seater version (type 69)
  • MiG-21-93 - (also the Bison)

Foreign versions

The production of MiG-21s (bis variant) under license by HAL of India lasted till 1984. Despite a series of crashes over the last decade, and acquiring the nickname "flying coffin", the Indian Air Force has decided to upgrade about 125+50 of the Mig-21bis in its inventory to the Mig-21 Bison standards which will serve the Indian Air Force till the year 2015.

Unlicensed Chinese copies of the MiG-21 are designated Chengdu J-7 and F-7 (for export).

Israeli Aircraft Industries manufactures an upgraded model called the MiG-21-2000.

Related content
Related Development

Chengdu J-7

Similar Aircraft

F-104 Starfighter - Dassault Mirage III

Designation Series

MiG-15 - MiG-17 - MiG-19 - MiG-21 - MiG-23 - MiG-25 - MiG-27

Related Lists List of military aircraft of the Soviet Union and the CIS - List of fighter aircraft

List of Aircraft | Aircraft Manufacturers | Aircraft Engines | Aircraft Engine Manufacturers

Airlines | Air Forces | Aircraft Weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

  Results from FactBites:
Air Force Technology - MiG-21 2000 - Fighter Ground Attack (723 words)
The Lahav Division of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has developed the MiG-21 2000 upgraded fighter and ground attack version of the MiG-21 fighter aircraft.
The original MiG-21, a short-range interceptor, was manufactured by MAPO MiG (now RAC MiG) of Russia.
Over 5000 MiG-21 aircraft have been manufactured, with more than 1000 operational with the air forces of at least 33 countries.
MiG (3970 words)
At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (what was the WWII for Soviet people) many MiG's pilots rammed Geman bormbers after running out of ammunition - often the order was "to stop bombers by any means".
MiG-AT 53.9K - New basic jet trainer, selected to replace the L-29 and L-39.
The MiG-AT has French engines, and is also being developed in cooperation with the South-Korean Daewoo.
  More results at FactBites »



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