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 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 the popular triangular wings, 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.
It was used also in early stages of the wars in Afghanistan but soon outclassed by the newer MiG-23 and MiG-27.
The first prototype (called Ye-6) flew in 1957, entering service in 1958.
Currently MiG-21s, in the F/L variant are currently produced under license by HAL of India. However, following a series of about 250 crashes over the last decade, the Indian Air Force has announced that the MiG-21 will be phased out of service.
Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-21 at
Farnborough (England) in 2002.