Russian Aircraft MiG (RSK MiG) said that it delivered the first batch of three MiG-29UPG single-seat fighters to India aboard an Antonov An-124 Ruslan airlifter.
The MiG-29UPG is a customized Indian air force version of the baseline MiG-29SMT, which represents a mid-life upgrade and modernization of the original MiG-29 and its early production variants. The reworked twin-engine jet has considerably expanded combat capabilities, especially as a strike fighter against ground and seagoing targets. The upgrade involves removing the aircraft’s outdated N-019 Topaz air-intercept radar, which is outfitted with a Cassegrain-type parabolic antenna, and installing a more advanced Zhuk-ME unit with multimode capabilities and mechanically scanned, slotted antenna.
The new radar and improved fire control system enables the use of precision guided munitions, including Kh-31-series high-speed missiles. The MiG-29UPG specimen first flew in February 2011 from the Gromov Flight Research Institute, or LII, in Zhukovsky, near Moscow. Since then, RSK MiG has conducted intensive trials at LII, its own base in Lubertsy and also at the Russian Ministry of Defense’s GLITs test ranges in southern Russia.
The Indian air force specification for the upgraded MiG-29UPG includes a service life extension to 3,500 flight hours. “This is a first step in materialization of the big contract [for] modernization of the Indian air force MiG-29s,” said Sergei Korotkov, RSK MiG general director. “Right now we are preparing a second step, calling for modernization work [on MiG-29s] to be done in India under our supervision and in tight cooperation with the local industry.”
India signed a contract in March 2008 for the modernization and conversion of MiG-29s already in service to the MiG-29UPG standard. Most of the aircraft will be upgraded in India under Russian supervision.