Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF LanceR-C (6824) from the Romanian Air Force at the RIAT 2019, RAF Fairford (United Kingdom)
The prototype MiG-21 first flew in 1956, with the operational fighter entering service with the Soviet Union in 1959. Since then over 60 nations have operated the 11.000 that were produced, with over 2000 also being licence built in China as the Chengdu J-7. Romania is one of a handful of nations that continue to operate the supersonic fighter and who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, faced a shortage of spare parts out of Russia. This precipitated the modernisation of the Romanian fleet, with a total of 111 aircraft being upgraded between 1995 and 2002 and being given the LanceR designation. The LanceR-C is the air defence variant of the fleet and is the type that Romania has send to the 2019 Air Tattoo.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (NATO reporting name: Fishbed) is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "Balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or "ołówek" (pencil) by Polish pilots due to the shape of its fuselage. The MiG-21MF or Modernizirovannyy (Modernised) Forsirovannyy (Uprated) was the export version of the MiG-21SM or Sapfir (referring to the Sapfir-21/RP-22 radar) Modernizirovannyy (Modernised), with RP-22 radar and R13-300 turbojet. The choice of weapons loads was increased with the addition of the R-60 and later the R-60M IR-seeking air-to-air missile (AAM).
The MiG-21 LanceR is the upgraded version for the Romanian Air Force done by Elbit Systems of Israel and Aerostar SA of Romania, in 1995–2002. The LanceR-A version is optimized for ground attack being able to deliver precision guided munitions of eastern and western origin as well as R-60, R-73 and Python III air-to-air missiles. The LanceR-B version is the trainer version, and the LanceR-C version is the air superiority version featuring two LCD MFDs, helmet mounted sight and the Elta EL/M-2032 Air combat radar.
The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world's largest military air show, held annually over the third weekend in July,
usually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.
The show typically attracts a total of 150.000 to 160.000 spectators over the weekend.