Raised in Chandigarh, the 51 Squadron moved to Srinagar on 1 May 1986. It was initially equipped with MiG-21 Type 76 and then with the Bisons in January 2004, which were an upgraded aircraft.

The crest of the squadron portrays muscular arms firmly grasping a sword, depicting the motto ‘Vijyaye Parakramah’ which means valour for victory.

During its 38 years of existence, the 51 Squadron has participated in multiple operations, including Operation Brasstacks in 1987, Operation Safed Sagar in 1999 during the Kargil war, and Operation Parakram.

For its contributions in the Kargil war, it was conferred with one Vayu Sena medal and three Mention-in-Dispatches. In this operation, the Squadron had flown 194 sorties, contributing to air defence for the strike fleet that consisted of the Mirages.

IAF To Phase Out Remaining MiG-21 Bison Squadrons By 2025

India has three more squadrons operating the MiG-21 fighter fleet, which will be phased out by 2025.

The MiG-21 (Mikoyan-Gurevich), whose NATO reporting name is ‘Fishbed’, was designed as a supersonic jet interceptor aircraft by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

The aircraft, which made its maiden flight on 16 June, 1955, holds the record of being the most produced supersonic jet in aviation history. It has had a long production run, from 1959 to 1985, and underwent updates and modification in many countries, including India.

The first MiG-21 aircraft came into the IAF in 1963 and since then a total of 874 have been inducted, including various variants of it. The first upgrade was in the 1970s and this variant was known as the MiG-21 Bis.

With the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas nowhere in the horizon, the IAF decided to upgrade 125 of the MiG-21 Bis to MiG-21 Bison in 2000, despite a spate of crashes in the 1990s that claimed lives of many pilots.