U658 03_Small An extra-ordinary sight - a MiG-21U in bright red colours standing guard over a building behind a wall.. U658 was given to the College of Aeronautical Engineering in Guwahati to enable Assamese youth to train for a career in aviation.

It is not uncommon for the IAF to have given retired aircraft to Colleges, Schools , Universities that have an established history. It is however uncommon for recently established colleges, especially Aircraft maintenance training institutes to procure retired warbirds.

The College of Aeronautical Engineering in Guwahati is such an exception. It was recently opened in 2009, to cater to the youth in Assam. Previously they had to go outside to consider a career in aviation, but the launch of the college in Borjhar, near the airport changed all that. The college was set up by Bikram Sinha Lahkar in memory of freedom fighter Santiram Lahkar.

U658 03_Small MiG-21U U658 retains an incorrectly proportioned roundel - and the serial number painted at the top of the fin. 

Support to the college was given by the government, and especially through the efforts of senior officers in the IAF who hailed from Assam, like Air Marshal P K Barbora and Air Marshal A K Gogoi, the Ministry of Defence cleared the procurement of a retired MiG-21.

The aircraft allocated turned out to be a MiG-21U, two seater trainer that was stored in Guwahati after it was withdrawn from service. The aircraft, U658 had flown 2930 hours in its career - almost reaching its total technical life of 3000 hours. The  MiG was handed over to the college on 12th January 2009, just over forty years since its induction in the IAF in September 1968. The aircraft most certainly would have flown or seen service during the 71 War, though at this time we are unable to find out more about its career.

Another view of the MiG-21U U658 at the CAE Guwahati. U658 03_Small

The aircraft has since been repainted in a bright red scheme with a white cheat line. Any remnants of its previous grey scheme has been lost. However there is an incorrectly proportioned IAF roundel painted on the nose. The serial number is painted on the top of the tail fin along with the fin flash.

Though the website claims that the aircraft is the only MiG that is parked in a civilian area, there have been other appearances by MiG-21s in public parks and centers in the area.  

All Photos Courtesy of the College for Aeronautical Engineering: http://caeg.in/ 

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