Tensions around the Sino-Indian border in the Ladakh region, which escalated in mid-June 2020, underscored the importance of the Indian Air Force MiG-29 fighter jets for operations in the region.
A columnist for the military watch magazine notes that New Delhi became the first export customer in the world for twin-engine multi-purpose MiG-29 aircraft.
Although the fighter as a whole is less formidable than the heavier Su-30MKI, and has several disadvantages in terms of sensors and electronics compared to newer Rafale jets, the MiG-29 is highly regarded for operations in the mountainous border region for several reasons.
The MiG is optimized for operation at high altitudes and has a much higher speed and flight ceiling than the Rafale.
The MiG-29 has now proved its worth for the border confrontation on the northern border of India, which is the main reason why New Delhi very quickly ordered another 21 jet aircraft from Russia and invested in upgrading a large number of old aircraft to the MiG-29UPG standard.
Despite its enormous potential, even in a modernized form, the age of the Russian fighter is increasingly becoming a problem, since neighboring China prefers to rely on the 4 ++ generation technique.
The inability of the MiG-29 to deal with new Chinese aircraft put the Indian Air Force in a difficult position. In this regard, New Delhi was seriously considering the possibility of acquiring a 4 ++ generation MiG-35 jet from Russia, which, if purchased, could close the technological gap with China’s latest front-line aircraft.
MiG-35 is the newest in the inventory of Russia. The fighter entered service in June 2019, that is, it integrates a number of new technologies, including artificial intelligence and the first AESA radar on a Russian fighter.
“After the June confrontation in the Galvan river valley in the Ladakh region, the acquisition of the MiG-35 seems especially relevant, since the fighter is ideal for replacing the MiG-29 at front-line air bases near the Chinese borders,” the observer of the American publication believes.
The similarity of the fighter with the MiG-29 makes it well suited for short airfields and high-altitude operations, but it has a much broader situational awareness, which is important for monitoring potential threats.
The MiG-35 can use most of the same maintenance infrastructure as the MiG-29. In addition, pilot training will not be a difficult process.
In the long run, a fighter can also be less expensive since its operating costs are reported to be 80% lower than older aircraft due to very low maintenance requirements.
Russia proposed to provide India with support and a license for the production of MiG-35 domestically, as was done for the MiG-27 and Su-30, which could lead to a very large-scale production and the acquisition of 150-200 fighters.
The combination of low maintenance costs of the MiG-35 and very advanced features makes it an ideal choice for large-scale acquisitions, especially considering how new the design is.
All this means that throughout its life cycle modernization will be important. The combat capabilities of the fighter noticeably differ from other new aircraft of medium and small weight categories, such as the F-35A, Rafale, and J-10C.
Do not forget that the Indian Air Force wants to add ten new fighter squadrons to its fleet, so the MiG-35 might be the perfect choice.
“Unlike the MiG-29, the MiG-35 will not face technological flaws if it is forced to go face to face with the elite of the Chinese fleet in Ladakh, and this in itself can make it a very worthwhile investment, given the region’s vital importance for Indian security “the observer of the American publication is sure.
Thus, the conflict between Beijing and New Delhi, which showed the weakness of the Indian Air Force, will allow Russia to earn billions of dollars.
Flight performance MiG-35
Technical characteristics of the new MiG-35 stand out against the background of most other fighters. Its superiority is associated with thoughtful design and improved engines.
According to the external characteristics of the MiG-35 is quite typical. Its length is 17.32 m and its height reaches 4.44 m. The wing is extended by 12 m in scope and 42 m² in area. The normal take-off weight for the fighter was marked at 19,200 kg, while the maximum is limited to 24,500 kg. The external payload can weigh up to 6500 kg, it is located at eight points of the suspension.
The maximum speed at the ground is 1400 km / h, but when climbing to a great height the aircraft will be able to accelerate to 2100 km / h. The practical ceiling is limited to 17,500 m. The flight range of the MiG-35 reaches 3,500 km if suspended tanks are installed on it. With a standard combat load, it will fly up to 1000 km. Duration is limited to 2.2 hours. TTX may vary, depending on the modifications that will be released in the future.
The MiG-35 received a glider from the Mig-29, which is not inferior in technical specifications to any Western counterpart. Structurally, the aircraft remained a light fighter, but its hull became reinforced, which allows it to be conditionally classified as a heavy vehicle.
The decision to use more rigid materials is associated with the need to be able to use the MiG-35 on an aircraft-carrying cruiser. For this, some details were also changed so that the aircraft could land on a shortened runway of an aircraft carrier and then take off. Now 190 meters is enough for him. Such indicators for classic fighters are extremely rare. He can land not only on an aircraft carrier but also on a damaged strip of the airfield. The latter is assisted by a reinforced chassis.
The design of the MiG-35 airframe makes the full use of stealth technologies impossible. Therefore, the inventors used special radio-absorbing elements in their coating in order to minimize the risk of aircraft detection by enemy radars.
It is fully adapted for use in severe weather conditions and can be placed outside hangars at air temperatures from -45 to + 50 ° C. Moreover, it is permissible to operate the aircraft at airfields located at elevations of up to 3.5 km above sea level.
Avionics and avionics
MiG aircraft is equipped with a large number of special equipment that simplifies its operation and gives an advantage in the conduct of hostilities. Avionics with the MiG-29 before installation on the MiG-35 have been completely updated, and it was supplemented with some elements that are available only on fifth-generation fighters.
The aircraft uses improved radar “Beetle” (can be presented in two variations). Both of them are responsible for the possibility of fighting in bad weather conditions, the detection of the enemy, and the creation of radio interference to enemy radar systems. The pilot can detect the presence of other fighters at a distance of up to 200 km. Special installations also allow high-resolution mapping of the area.
MiG-35 can detect and track up to 30 targets simultaneously. In this case, you can visit and strike at once on four ground targets or six aircraft. And when launching enemy air-to-air missiles, the airborne equipment will give a warning at a distance of up to 30 km, and when attacking from the ground, the radius increases to 50 km.
In front of the pilot are three color displays, an indicator on the windshield, and a helmet-mounted target designation system. They help to get all the necessary information and to properly navigate critical situations.
The aircraft is equipped with additional equipment for collecting flight information, including video recordings. They are transferred to the control center to improve performance and identify errors
The power plant of the fighter consists of two improved RD-33MK engines, whose power is 12% higher than the base version. The afterburner traction of each is 9000 kgf, and the standard – is 5400 kgf. Both are equipped with electronic systems and a smokeless combustion chamber. They have a high resource and good reliability, so they can work at least 4000 hours.
MiG-35 engines have a nozzle with a thrust vector that allows the pilot to use vertical take-off. To do this, it is enough to minimum accelerate and rise into the air, after which it will be possible to begin a sharp rise. In the event of a breakdown, the engines can be replaced in the field, spending no more than an hour.
High maneuverability indicators abroad have long been considered useless. New rocketry forces to fight at great distances, which is why aerobatics becomes irrelevant. Therefore, foreign aviation companies emphasize the creation of increased stealth, advanced radar systems, and powerful missiles of various classes. All of this found their own counteraction forces, which made the close combat real again. Now the maneuverability of fighters has become one of the most important factors in the development of new aviation, and aerobatics skills are honed by all cadets.
In Russia, attention has always been given to maneuvering. Therefore, Russian aircraft can be considered the best by this criterion.
But the MiG-35 stands out even against their background, as it can demonstrate excellent aerobatics. This helps to evade enemy attacks, disrupt missile guidance, make opponents mistaken, avoid battle even under difficult conditions, and trick oneself out of shelling with a subsequent retaliatory attack.
The aircraft received such an advantage thanks to engines with a deflected thrust vector and a well-thought-out design.
Weapon control on the MiG-35 is carried out using the HOTAS system, which increases the convenience of pointing and carrying out attacks. The aircraft is equipped with a large number of weapons. For close combat, the automatic gun GS-30-1 with an increased rate of fire is used. It uses 30 mm caliber cartridges. Ammunition includes 100 units. And the increased wing area allowed to raise the number of hanging weapons from six to eight pieces.
The basic configuration involves the installation of medium-range missiles designed to destroy air targets. They have homing heads that allow you to follow the selected enemy machine. Melee missiles are sometimes used. Also, weapons can be replaced by unguided weapons or bombs weighing up to 500 kg
Some of the available missiles have television, laser, and radar homing heads. The range of their launch is up to 300 km. Bombs can be free-fall, adjustable, or fall into the category of aviation mines.
The MiG-35 has a glass cabin. It has many pieces of equipment, including LCD monitors and wide-angle indicators. The basic version provides only one place, but the MiG-35D model is designed for two people.