Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) finally awarded the Russian Aircraft Corporation a firm order for 24 MiG-29 carrier-capable fighters. MiG will deliver 20 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four MiG-29KUB two-seaters between 2013 and 2015. The Russian Navy stated its intention to introduce the MiG-29K two years ago, but the order was not confirmed until now. Currently, Russia’s sole carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, is equipped with Sukhoi Su-33 fighters modified from the original Su-27 design.
Defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that the new contract is part of the government’s plan to boost weapons funding between 2011 and 2020. New orders for Su-34 strike fighters and Yak-130 jet trainers, plus a MiG-31 upgrade, have already been announced. “Following the Air Force example, the Navy air arm will also get modern combat jets that are equivalent to the best aircraft available elsewhere,” Serdyukov added. MiG general director Sergey Korotkov said the MiG-29K order comes after an “extensive multi-year effort” to develop the aircraft and prepare it for production. Together with expected new orders for land-based derivatives of the MiG-29, the MiG-29K order will “ensure a stable workload for the company in the middle term,” he added.
MiG said that the aircraft for the Russian Navy would differ from those already delivered or being built for India, the launch customer. New Delhi ordered 16 MiG-29K/KUBs in 2003, and they were delivered between February 2010 and early this year, according to Indian media reports. In August last year India took up an option for 29 more MiGs for the Navy. These are intended to equip the Russian-built INS Vikramaditya (ex-Gorshkov) and follow-on Project 71 aircraft carriers to be built in India. The difference was not specified, but the Russian Navy version is expected to have Phazotron’s Zhuk-MA radar with an active electronically scanned antenna (AESA). This was developed for the exportable MiG-35D, which failed in the Indian tender for 126 medium multirole combat aircraft. The Indian MiG-29Ks carry the Phazotron Zhuk-M with a slotted antenna and mechanical radar beam scanning.
Meanwhile, MiG began flight trials last December of the MiG-29M2 two-seat fighter prototype, side number 747, followed in February this year by the single-seat MiG-29M, side number 741. They are further developments of the Fulcrum series. According to MiG, the MiG-29M/M2 design has fewer imported components than the exportable MiG-35. It is intended for both domestic and overseas customers.