MOSCOW – Experts have acknowledged that despite the significant generation gap between the Russian MiG-21 and the American F-22 fighters, the jet developed in the Soviet years may under certain circumstances be preferable.
Military Watch Magazine qualifies the MiG-21 as a lightweight, inexpensive and old aircraft, while classifying the American F-22 Raptor as expensive, new and complex. The magazine also notes that initial orders for US fighters have been cut by 75% due to high operating and maintenance costs.
“The sheer combat prowess of the F-22 however does come at a steep price, as not only does the fighter cost hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire and maintain over its lifetime, but its delicate systems require extremely high levels of maintenance,” the publication says.
The issue points out that the American jet ” precision instrument, one which when applied properly can be relied on to guarantee air superiority and engage any existing adversary – even when outnumbered.”
Minimizing ground time remains an important attribute for a wartime plane, the magazine points out, but the F-22 not only needs a lot of maintenance time, but is also subject to a number of failures.
Already the MiG-21 has high reliability and capacity to perform a large number of flights per day with minimal maintenance, which distinguishes this fighter plane from the F-22, explains the publication.
“Where the F-22 is vulnerable to rain and adverse weather conditions, and requires pristine runways to operate, the MiG-21 can operate in all manner of adverse conditions,” says the publication.
In addition, according to the magazine, the Soviet fighter can be deployed on combat missions 20 times as often as the F-22, allowing it to carry more ammunition and attack the enemy more often in prolonged conflict.
The advantages of the MiG-21 were well exemplified in the Syrian war, where the reliable, undemanding, maintenance-free aircraft capable of taking large numbers of flights is even more useful than the more advanced and complex fighters.