Thousands of retired MiG-21 fighters can be converted into suicide UAVs, this is a very remarkable scenario.

The MiG-21 fighter, when converted into a suicide UAV, has the advantage of high speed, wide range and larger payload compared to other light unmanned aircraft.

The idea of taking advantage of obsolete fighters that have been eliminated has existed for a long time, when China modified the J-6 fighter (a licensed copy of the Soviet Union’s MiG-19) into a UAV, equipping them with appropriate equipment. In addition to China, North Korea also has a huge stockpile of outdated fighters such as MiG-15, MiG-17 or MiG-19 and they are currently being converted by Pyongyang for a new role.

Most of the above-mentioned UAV-converted fighters are used as “flying targets” for air defense training, but special cases have been recorded when Azerbaijan uses the old An-2 transport as a “decoy drone” during the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Not only outdated aircraft, currently a program is underway in Russia to create a fifth generation unmanned combat aircraft based on the Su-75 Checkmate. This is considered the premise of the sixth generation fighter. If Moscow is successful and they have light fighters invisible to radar, they will play an important role on future battlefields. A modified UAV version of the Checkmate could be used even more widely to carry out powerful strikes deep into enemy territory.

The advantage of Checkmate compared to other UAVs such as Orion, Altius and even Okhotnik is its speed, maneuverability and much higher combat load, reaching 7.4 tons. But that is far in the future, and for now we should take a closer look at the experience of China and Azerbaijan in converting old, cheap planes into UAVs. In particular, the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčtaking advantage of the MiG-21 light fighter and turning it into a suicide UAV seems very interesting.

The big advantage of the Mig-21 is its reliability as well as simplicity in design. Because it was mass-produced during the Soviet period, it can be very cheap. In addition, these aircraft have high speed and load carrying capacity. In Iran, Chinese-made copies of MiG-21 fighters have been used as guided bomb carriers of the Yasin series. With its wings open, the bomb can fly to targets 50 km away. In fact, this is a good option for the combat capabilities of the drone: glide bombs or attack with air-to-ground missiles.

Penetrating a multi-layered air defense system while acting as a suicide UAV or at least clearing the way for cruise missiles to reach high-value military targets is a noteworthy direction. With a large number of “unmanned MiG-21 fighters” launched at the same time, it can cause heavy damage to the enemy, or at least jamming the air defense system, creating conditions for the main force to strike a decisive blow.

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