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MiG-21 Mikoyan Gurevich
Shenyang J-7
ASCC codename: Fishbed
Multi-Role Fighter

The Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21 is truly one of the most remarkable aircraft of the Cold War and perhaps the most widely-built plane since World War II. In its career, the MiG-21 has seen service with some 47 different nations throughout Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Eastern Europe since the late 1950s. The project began in 1953 when the Soviet Air Force requested a short-range interceptor to replace the MiG-17 and MiG-19 fighters. After experimenting with various wing configurations, the Mikoyan Gurevich design bureau chose a tailed delta configuration that eventually became the MiG-21.

What made the design so successful was its extremely light weight and maneuverability coupled with exceptional reliability, high sortie-rate, and low cost of operation. However, the MiG-21 long suffered from short range, small payload, and poor avionics suite. Later models were improved with more powerful and fuel efficient engines, radar, and ground attack capability that significantly increased the aircraft's versatility and effectiveness.

Though the MiG-21 began to be replaced by the MiG-23 and MiG-29 during the 1970s and 1980s, several hundred of the more than 11,000 built are still in use in Russia, China, and several other countries. Many are undergoing updates of their avionics systems and being equipped with new cockpit displays and more modern missiles. Italian companies have also been updating many of the examples operated by Egypt and Syria.

China developed its own much-improved version of the MiG-21 known as the J-7. The J-7 continues in production, and the F-7 export model is also extremely popular.

Data below for MiG-21Mbis 'Fishbed-N' and F-7M Airguard
Last modified 28 March 2011

First Flight (MiG-21) 1957
(J-7) 17 January 1966
Service Entry


CREW: one: pilot



Wing Root TsAGI S-12 (4.2%)
Wing Tip

TsAGI S-12 (5%)

Length (MiG-21) 40.29 ft (12.285 m)
(F-7M) 48.83 ft (14.89 m) including probe
Wingspan 23.46 ft (7.154 m)
Height 13.46 ft (4.10 m)
Wing Area 247.6 ft² (23.0 m²)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty (MiG-21) 12,600 lb (5,715 kg)
(F-7M) 11,630 lb (5,275 kg)
Normal Takeoff (MiG-21) 18,080 lb (8,200 kg)
(F-7M) 16,605 lb (7,530 kg)
Max Takeoff (MiG-21) 22,925 lb (10,400 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 658 gal (2,600 L)
external: 470 gal (1,780 L)
Max Payload

(MiG-21) 3,310 lb (1,500 kg)
(F-7M) 2,205 lb (1,000 kg)

Powerplant (MiG-21) one Tumanskii R-25-300 turbojet
(F-7M) one Liyang Wopen-7B(BM) turbojet
Thrust (MiG-21) 15,650 lb (69.61 kN)
(F-7M) 13,488 lb (59.82 kN)

Max Level Speed at altitude: 1,355 mph (2,175 km/h) at 42,650 ft (13,000 m), Mach 2.05
at sea level: 800 mph (1,275 km/h), Mach 1.05
Initial Climb Rate (MiG-21) 58,000 ft (17,680 m) / min
(F-7M) 35,435 ft (10,800 m) / min
Service Ceiling (MiG-21) 57,400 ft (17,500 m)
(F-7M) 59,700 ft (18,200 m)
Range typical: 595 nm (1,100 km)
ferry: 970 nm (1,800 km)
g-Limits unknown

Gun (MiG-21) one 23-mm GSh-23L two-barrel cannon (200 rds)
(F-7M) two 30-mm cannons (60 rds ea)
Stations five external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile (MiG-21) K-13/AA-2 Atoll, R-60/AA-8 Aphid
(F-7M) PL-2, PL-5, PL-7, Magic
Air-to-Surface Missile none
Bomb (MiG-21) 250/500 kg conventional, nuclear, and napalm bombs
(F-7M) 50-500 kg GP bomps
Other (MiG-21) rocket pods, ECM pods, reconnaissance pods
(F-7M) 57 mm gun pods, 90-mm gun pods

Ye-5, Ye-6 Prototypes
MiG-21F 'Fishbed-C' Definitive fighter model with an improved engine
MiG-21U 'Mongol-A' Two-seat trainer based on the MiG-21F
MiG-21G 'Fishbed-C' Major production model of a short-range fighter version, built in the USSR and Czechoslovakia
J-7, F-7 MiG-21F/G variants built under license by Shenyang and Chengdu in China, F-7 is an export model
J-7II, F-7B Improved J-7
MiG-21PF 'Fishbed-D' Second major produection version with an improved engine, enlarged engine inlet, new radar, and all-weather capability
MiG-21PFS 'Fishbed-E' MiG-21PF equipped with RATO packs for short takeoffs, blown flaps for reduced landing speeds, improved aerodynamics, and a new gun pod
MiG-21FL or Type 77 Export model of the MiG-21PF/PFS lacking the RATO gear and blown flaps, built under license in India
MiG-21PF(SPS) MiG-21PF with a blown flap system
MiG-21PFM 'Fishbed-F' Production model incorporating all the improved features of the MiG-21F, MiG-21PF, and MiG-21PFS
MiG-21PFMA 'Fishbed-J' First model with ground attack capability, greater fuel capacity, improved radar, an internal 23-mm gun, and four underwing pylons instead of two
MiG-21M or Type 96 Similar to the MiG-21PFMA and built under license in India
MiG-21R 'Fishbed-H' Reconnaissance model based on the MiG-21PFMA with cameras, IR sensors, or ECM equipment located in an internal bay or external pods
MiG-21MF 'Fishbed-J' Production model with a new engine
MiG-21RF 'Fishbed-H' Reconnaissance model based on the MiG-21MF
J-7III Improved Chinese J-7II variant based on the MiG-21MF, equipped with a new radar for all-weather day-night operations, built under license by Chengdu
MiG-21SM 'Fishbed-J' unknown
MiG-21SMT 'Fishbed-K' Improved MiG-21MF with upgraded aerodynamics, increased fuel capacity, and fitted with ECM equipment in wingtip pods
MiG-21SMB 'Fishbed-K' unknown
MiG-21bis 'Fishbed-L' Multi-role attack fighter with a lighter airframe, increased fuel capacity, and improved avionics
MiG-21Mbis 'Fishbed-N' Improved MiG-21bis with a new R-25 engine, improved avionics, and able to carry a larger variety of weaponry
MiG-21US 'Mongol-B' Two-seat trainer similar to the MiG-21U but with blown flaps
MiG-21UM 'Mongol-B' Two-seat trainer based on the MiG-21MF
MiG-21-93 or MiG-21I Upgrade offered by Mikoyan and aimed primarily at India's MiG-21bis fleet, includes a new radar and armed with more advanced weapons like R-77 and R-27 air-to-air missiles, Kh-31P and Kh-25MP anti-radiation missiles, as well as Kh-31A and Kh-35 anti-ship missiles; at least 100 believed to have been modified
MiG-21-2000 Upgrade offered by Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems featuring a new radar, updated cockpit instruments and displays including a HUD, and ability to carry Python 3 air-to-air missiles as well as laser-guided bombs; up to 110 Romanian aircraft converted to this standard
F-7M Airguard Upgraded J-7II with Western avionics, a more powerful engine, stronger landing gear, and increased weapons options
F-7P Skybolt F-7M model purchased by Pakistan; 20 built
F-7MP Improved F-7M with a new cockpit layout and better survivability features; 60 built for Pakistan
J-8 Much improved Chinese variant loosely based on the MiG-21 and MiG-23, license-built by Shenyang


Indo-Pakistan War (India, 1965)
Six Day War (Egypt, Iraq, Syria, 1967)
Vietnam War (North Vietnam, 1967-1975)
War of Attrition (Soviet Union, Egypt, 1969-1970)
Bangladesh War (India, 1971)
Yom Kippur War (Algeria, Egypt, Syria, 1973)
Libyan-Egyptian War (Egypt, 1977)
Angolan Civil War (Cuba, 1977-?)
Uganda-Tanzania War (Libya, Tanzania, 1978-1979)
shot down by Israeli F-15s (Syria, 1979)
Lebanon (Syria, 1982)
Afghansitan War (Soviet Union, 1979-1989)
Iran-Iraq War (Iran, Iraq, 1980-1988)
Sudanese Civil War (Sudan, 1980s-2005?)
Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (Iraq, 1991)
Croatian War of Independence (Croatia, Yugoslavia, 1991-1995)
Nagorno-Karabakh War (Russia on behalf of Armenia, Azerbaijan, 1992-1994)
Bosnian War (Yugoslavia, 1992-1995)
Iraq - Operation Desert Fox (Iraq, 1998)
Second Congo War (Zimbabwe, 1998)
Kosovo - Operation Allied Force (Serbia, 1999)
Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, 2001)
Libya Civil War (Libya, Free Libya rebels, 2011)


Abkhazia (Abkhazian Air Force)
Afghanistan (Afghan Air Force)
Albania, Forcat Ushtarake Ajore Shqipetare (Albanian Air Force) - F-7
Algeria, Al Quwwat al Jawwawiya al Jaza'eriya (Algerian Air Force)
Angola, Força Aérea Popular de Angola (Angolan People's Air Force)
Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan Air Force)
Bangladesh, Bangladesh Biman Bahini (Bangladeshi Defense Force Air Wing) - F-7
Bulgaria, Bulgarski Voenno Vozdushni Sili (Bulgarian Air Defense Force Military Aviation)
Burma, Tatmdaw Lei (Burmese Air Force) - F-7
Cambodia, Force Aérienne Royale Cambodge (Royal Cambodian Air Force)
China, Zhongkuo Shenmin Taifang Tsunputai (People's Liberation Army Air Force) - J-7
Congo, Force Aérienne du Congo (Congolese Air Force)
Croatia, Hrvatske Zracne Snage (Croatian Air Force)
Cuba, Defensa Antiaerea y Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria (Anti-Aircraft Defense and Revolutionary Air Force)
Czechoslovakia, Ceskoslovenske Letectvo (Czechoslovak Air Force)
Czech Republic, Cesk Letectvo a Protivzbusna Obrana (Czech Air Force and Air Defense)
East Germany, Luftstreitkräfte/Luftverteidigung (Air Force/Air Defense Force)
Egypt, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya il Misriya (Egyptian Air Force) - MiG-21, F-7
Ethiopia, Ye Ityopya Ayer Hayl (Ethiopian Air Force)
Finland, Suomen Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force)
Germany, Deutsche Luftwaffe (German Air Force)
Guinea (Guinea Air Force)
Hungary, Magyar Légierö (Hungarian Red Air Arm)
Hungary, Magyar Honvedseg Repülö Csapatai (Hungarian Air Defense Group)
India, Bharatiya Vayu Sena (Indian Air Force)
Iran (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) - F-7
Iraq, Al Quwwat Al Jawwiya al Iraqiya (Iraqi Air Force) - MiG-21, F-7
Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan Air Force)
Laos (Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force)
Libya, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Jamahiriya al Arabia al Libyya (Libyan Air Force)
Libya (Free Libyan Air Force)
Madagascar, Armée de l'Air Malgache (Malagasy Air Force)
Mali, Force Aérienne de la République du Mali (Mali Air Force)
Mongolia (Mongolian People's Army Air Force)
Montenegro, Vazdušne Snage Crne Gore (Montenegrin Air Force)
Mozambique, Força Aérea de Moçambique (Mozambique Air Force)
Namibia (Namibia Defense Force) - F-7
Nigeria (Nigerian Air Force) - MiG-21, F-7
North Korea (Korean People's Army Air Force)
Pakistan, Pakistan Fiza'ya (Pakistani Air Force) - F-7
Poland, Sily Powietrzne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (Polish Air Force)
Poland, Polska Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej (Polish Air Defense and Aviation Force)
Romania, Fortele Aeriene Române (Romanian Air Force)
Russia, Voyenno Vozdushniye Sili (Russian Air Force)
Serbia, Vazduhoplovstvo i PVO Vojske Srbije (Serbian Air Force)
Slovakia, Velitelstvo Vzdusnych Sil (Slovak Air Force)
Somalia, Cuerpo Aeronautica della Somalia (Somali Air Corps)
Sri Lanka (Sri Lankan National Air Force) - F-7
Sudan, Silakh al Jawwiya As'Sudaniya (Sudanese Air Force) - F-7
Syria, Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al Arabiya as-Souriya (Syrian Air Force)
Tanzania, Jeshi la Anga la Wananchi wa Tanzania (Tanzanian People's Defense Force Air Wing) - F-7
Uganda (Uganda People's Defence Force)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Voyenno Vozdushniye Sili (Soviet Air Force)
Vietnam, Khong Quan Nhan Dan Viet Nam (Vietnam People's Army Air Force)
Yemen, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Yemeniya (Unified Yemen Air Force)
Yugoslavia, Ratno Vazduhoplovstvo i Protiv Vazdusna Odbrana (Serbia and Montenegro Air and Air Defence Force)
Zambia (Zambian Air Force and Air Defense Command)
Zimbabwe (Air Force of Zimbabwe) - F-7



  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 632, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 117-119, 293-296, Chengdy J-7/F-7 'Fishbed', Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 'Fishbed' early variants, Mikoyan MiG-21 'Fishbed' second-generation models, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21U/US/UM 'Mongol'.
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995, p. 186-187, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis 'Fishbed-L' and 'Fishbed-N', Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21U 'Mongol'.
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1995, p. 200-209, MiG-21.
  • Gunston, Bill and Spick, Mike. Modern Air Combat: The Aircraft, Tactics and Weapons Employed in Aerial Combat Today. NY: Crescent Books, 1983, p. 128-129.
  • Munro, Bob and Chant, Christopher. Jane's Combat Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, p. 80-81, 162-163.
  • Paul Nann's Military Aviation Photo Gallery
  • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 47, 48, 71-73, HAL MiG-21 and MiG-27M, Elbit Ltd. MiG-21, Mikoyan MiG-21 and MiG-21-93 (NATO name Fishbed).
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 32, 49, 54-55, Elbit Systems Ltd. MiG-21, Aerostar MiG-21 Lancer, Mikoyan MiG-21 and MiG-21-93 (NATO name Fishbed).

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