The next generation of the Russian MiG-29 fighter will now be marketed and sold under the new designator of MiG-35, as it is a distinctly new-technology, four-plus generation aircraft. This version of the multi-role fighter is a modern-day evolution of the MiG-29M-9.15 design concept aircraft that was first introduced in the early 1990s.
However, the MiG-35 will be almost a completely new aircraft, Aleksei Fedorov, general director of the Russian Aircraft Company MiG (RSK MiG) confirmed yesterday. The aircraft will be much lighter and will feature a new, active phased-array radar set, thrust vector controls like those seen on the MiG-29OVT technology demonstrator, a new suite of avionics, modern cockpit displays and a new-generation threat warning system. This new threat detection module will provide the pilot with the notification of being painted by radar, infrared, laser or other optical systems and will replace the older generation Avtomatika SPO-15 radar warning receiver (RWR) that is the standard installation on all MiG-29s today.
Fedorov said the company is pursuing a two-pronged strategy for the future that will combine campaigns to sell new MiG-35s with proposals to retrofit many of the new MiG’s systems into older single-seat MiG-29-9.12/13 and two-seat MiG-29B-9.51 aircraft that are already in service around the world. This retrofit would constitute the latest version of what has been called the MiG-29SMT/UBT-9.17/52 configuration upgrade. A version of the MiG-29SMT variant is being flown this year at Dubai and is also on static display.
Fedorov told the press that the structure/lighter weight design of the aircraft significantly extends its service life.
But if the Indian Navy’s MiG-29K provides the technical and design evolution basis for the technological future of MiG, the current fighter tender for the Indian Air Force could very determine its financial future. The total buy is 126 aircraft, which is a substantial contract compared with the comparatively anemic orders of 12, 16 or 20 fighters that are the norm in today’s market.
MiG, which has sold India more than MiG-29s since the 1980s, it would seem to have the upper hand over the U.S. and European competitors in this fight as India’s Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia reportedly has told the Indian government’s cabinet committee on Security (CCS) that the IAF was struggling with the maintenance of more than 20 different types of aircraft, and that he would not like to add another new fighter model to the fleet as this would only compound these problems.
An important option that will be offered to the Indians is the new Omul electronic warfare system from the Central Scientific Research Institute of Radio Technology (TsNIRTI). “Omul is a generation or more beyond the previous L203 Gardenia jammer,” said MiG specialists familiar with both models of jammers.