Jan 3, 2016
Bulgaria retires last MiG-21 fighters
Involving the nation's last three serviceable examples – two single-seat MiG-21bis's and a two-seat MiG-21UM1 trainer – the event marked the end of regular flight operations, although the former pair will remain available to conduct quick reaction alert sorties until 31 December. The fighters will then be kept in storage at Graf Ignatievo air base, ready to be returned to airworthy status should the need arise.
Bulgaria's MiG-21 fleet had originally been slated for retirement in 2012, but the type's availability was continued through two life-extension efforts. This was deemed necessary due to airworthiness problems experienced by the air force's Mikoyan MiG-29 fleet.
A potential further extension of the remaining MiG-21s has been rejected due to the cost of overhauling the aircraft, which were manufactured in 1981 and 1982. Instead, the air force has opted to direct its efforts and available funds towards maintaining its struggling MiG-29 fleet.