Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-21bis Fishbed-L/N

in North Korean Air Force service

Key Facts

Total Delivered: 30
Total Still Active: 30
Total Now Stored: 0
Service Entry: 1998
Retirement: current
Main Role: Fighter
Origin: Kazakhstan


Thirty-eight second-hand MiG-21bis were clandestinely acquired from Kazakhstan in 1999. In fact, 40 MiG-21bis were originally involved in the $8 million deal, although the final two aircraft were not delivered. The MiG-21s were dismantled before being transported by train across China to North Korea. After the deal became known, the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered a criminal investigation on August 12, 1999, subsequently sacking the Minister of Defence and chairman of the national security committee, as well as several high ranking government officials for “blatant violations of arms trading laws”. One MiG-21 reportedly crashed off the eastern coast of North Korea in 2009, while another crashed fatally in Liaoning province, China in 2010. The sub-types of these MiG-21s are unknown.

Individual Details

Serial c/no. Prev. Identity Delivered Fate/Notes


None available at present.

More Information


  • World Air Forces Directory 2009/2010 (Ian Carroll)
  • MiG 21 ‘Fishbed’: The World’s Most Widely Used Supersonic Fighter (Yefim Gordon & Bill Gunston)

Other Sources

  • Mikoyan MiG-21 – Famous Russian Aircraft (Yefim Gordon, Keith Dexter, Dmitriy Komissarov)

    See other operators of the Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-21 'Fishbed'

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