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Fighter Mig-29 Fulcrum

W. (tons):

14,75- 17,72

Max. weight combat load. (kg):

3000

Speed (km/h):

1'500/2'400

Dimensions (m):

11,36 x 17,32 x 4,73

Service seiling. (m):

18'000

Range (km):

700/2'600

M./Engine:

2 DTRDRD-33K, 2 x 11'484 kgs

Man./Crew:

1

Armament:

Hardpoints:

7

Missiles:

2/R-27, 6/R-73/R-60 AA

Artillery:

30 mm DP GSh-301 (150 rounds)

Other:

4 pods for unguided missiles (S-5, S-8, S-24)
bombs (3000 kg)

Controls:

airborn radar N-019
optical locator and infra-red search optical and track sensor;
laser rangefinder;
helmet mounted target designator for search, detection, lock and tracking of targets
radar for R-27 missiles

  
   During the MAKS '97 Air Show, the President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin stayed over half an hour, instead of the scheduled five minutes, in the pavilion of the MIG "MAPO." He was attracted by the latest updated version of the famous MiG-29SMT fighter. Impressively built President felt comfortable enough in the cockpit of the new aircraft to stay there for ten minutes asking the designers questions. Among other things he paid attention to the data that could be clearly seen on the two color liquid crystal displays despite the bright sunlight. Multifunctional control panels and an ergonomical combination of digital and needle indicators that pilots are accustomed to, make the cockpit especially comfortable to work in. From modernization to modernization the aircraft's "intellect" has been more and more distinctly revealed in its cockpit.
   State-of-the-art avionics do not break down the stereotyped concepts of aircraft control mastered by pilots, but help them cope with the execution of an increased number of tasks by providing them with information in more agreeable way at the appropriate moment.
   The President approved the course of activity adopted by the MIG "MAPO" headed by Anatoly Manuev to turn the MiG-29 fighter into a fifth-generation aircraft via step by step updates. Meanwhile, these improvements can be incorporated in earlier produced and currently operational aircraft. The company has built more than 1,300 aircraft. Over 300 of them are still operational abroad. What is most intriguing is that the United States also purchased MiG-29 aircraft. One can treat differently their explanation for purchasing 21 aircraft from Moldova: they claim that there was a danger that the aircraft would be delivered to Iran. In any case, this speaks volumes about the respect for the MiG-29 on the part of our principal competitor. The MiG-29 optimal aerodynamic configuration, developed on the concept of integrated aerodynamics and reliable structural strength, ensured its long service life. One interesting point is that during aerodynamic tests one of the fighter prototypes was placed entirely into a wind-tunnel - an extremely rare event.
   The record of the sequence of updating the MiG-29 revealed that every subsequent modernization opened up new vistas for more sophisticated improvements. Initially it was developed as a light frontline fighter to gain air superiority and it has successfully performed this role.
   Naturally, however, its creators did not sit back. The airborne computers were geared with more sophisticated software to mount new missiles and enhance their efficiency and introduce more reliable methods of guidance and radio-correction. They created MiG-29s that incorporated the complete spectrum of improvements achieved at that time. Radical improvements occurred in increased capacity of the internal fuel system and equipment compartments. A more sophisticated control system was installed that was especially effective at large angles of attack. Drop fuel tanks were also installed. Modified software made the radar more resistant to jamming and allowed it to use more effective algorithms for radio signal processing for target detection and lock-on. The RVV-AE medium-range missiles with active radar homing heads were also put into operation at that time. Further modifications made the MiG-29 a fully multirole aircraft. The MiG-29 was fitted with air-to-surface high-precision weapons, including the X-29T TV guided missile and X-31P missile with a radar homing head, KAB-500KR guided bombs, etc. The aircraft was also equipped with the in-flight refueling system specified by the Malaysian customer. The aircraft's wing structure was reinforced to increase combat payload to four tons. At the same time work was underway to improve the RD-33 engine and radically increase its reliability and service life. The adopted version was designated the MiG-29SM.
   TheR-73 missile helmet latest is the MiG-29SMT version currently undergoing intensive tests. What are the main differences between this version and the MiG-29SM?
First and foremost, its increased operating range. The MiG-29 has been criticized for a short operating range compared with that of heavy fighters. However, the MiG-29 was developed as a frontline fighter never to be beaten in air combat. The aircraft combat capabilities were highly praised during NATO exercises.
Today, two MiG-29s from the GDR arsenal are constantly on combat duty in the German Air Force, although these aircraft are only predecessors of the MiG-29S. The small -size MiG-29 is harder to pinpoint visually or via radar contact than the F-15 fighter. The MiG-29 pilot will see the F-15 first. The F-15 constitutes a very attractive target for the RVV-AE missiles carried by the MiG-29 fighter. Our designers managed to accommodate additional 1,000 liters of internal fuel without increasing the aircraft dimensions. This additional amount of fuel is sufficient to enable the aircraft to cover another 500 km. In doing so, developers mounted air-intakes from the updated MiG-29M (actually it is a completely new aircraft also known in the press as MiG-33). Unfortunately, it was not put into the series production although it underwent practically all tests. The aircraft was designed to incorporate many units taken from the MiG-29, namely air-intakes and wings. The use of these air-intakes allowed developers to arrange 650 liters of internal fuel in wing leading-edge extensions and an integrated fuel tank arranged in a fuselage fairing to increase fuel capacity to 1,000 liters. Provision is also made for the use of three  drop fuel tanks borrowed from three previous updates, which will increase the operating range two-fold. However, this is not the limit. In further updates it is possible to use wings from the MiG-29M to arrange additional fuel and increase the number of suspension points for weapons.
   In addition to the new cockpit and most advanced avionics, the MiG-29SMT will be fitted with new high-precision weapons, primarily the X-31A missile to defeat sea targets that is without equal abroad. The new updated airborne radar allows terrain cartography to increase the guidance efficiency.
   A great deal mentioned above became possible thanks to the efforts made by Mikhail Korzhuev, Director General of Aviation Research and Production Complex, and investment support of MAPO Bank, headed at that time by Yevgeny Ananyev (now Director General of the Rosvoorouzhenie State Corporation). The principle of open design architecture followed by developers of the MiG-29 allows them to easily install Western avionics and armament. There are many interesting and promising engineering solutions to this effect.
   The MiG-29SMT will continue to be updated, primarily to obtain increased maneuverability. Currently, a thrust-vectoring controlled engine is undergoing tests that will be soon installed on the aircraft. Naturally, all innovations developed by the MiG-29 designers cannot be disclosed due to military and commercial considerations. However, Valery Novikov, Senior Designer, and Mikhail Waldenberg, Designer General of the MIG "MAPO," are sure that the MiG-29 will be among the leading fifth-generation fighters in the first decade of the 21st century.

THE MIKOYAN MIG-29SMT CERTIFIED BY THE RUSSIAN AIR FORCE

The beginning of 1999 marked a portentous event: the MiG-29SMT was certificated by the Russian Air Force heralding the commencement of modernization of MiG-29 fighters that are currently in service with the air forces of Russia and other countries, as well as MiG-29SMT's series production. Delegations from many countries operating the MiG-29 and potential buyers have already acquainted themselves with the new aircraft. Several foreign pilots from these delegations made familiarization flights on the MiG-29SMT and gave it high marks.

The MiG-29 modernization program provided for:

longer range by increasing internal fuel capacity and incorporating flight refueling system and underwing drop tanks (for early-series aircraft which did not have these features);

principally new cockpit information and control panel which includes two large (6nx8n) full-color multifunctional liquid-crystal displays and a multifunctional control panel with a dedicated display. The introduction of displays required the re-arrangement of the instrument board and starboard console. In this configuration, the cockpit fully corresponds to the HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) concept;

new open architecture of an onboard equipment complex with multiplex channels (corresponding to the MIL-1553B standard) and a central processor with PC-compatible software;

longer service life and on-condition maintenance;

multifunctional radar with air-to-surface modes;

enhanced stealth capability in radar frequency band;

new weapon systems;

new IFF, communications and navigation systems which meet the ICAO and/or NATO standards; more effective ECM systems; new flight data recorders and inter-aircraft data links.

The aircraft can be equipped with an optronic sight pod, a jamming station and GPS/GLONASS-based navigation systems. In addition, a ground station for flight planning and data preparation can be supplied.

Part of the above-mentioned systems are either undergoing flight tests or have been installed on several MiG-29 fighters, or are organic to the equipment already certified for other types of aircraft. This provides an opportunity to offer each customer an affordable version which will meet his specific requirements. A batch of aircraft equipped to customer request can be produced within a short term.

Other projects under the modification program which require longer implementation time include:

modified engine with augmented thrust, thrust vector control and better fuel efficiency (with earlier linear dimensions and attachments retained to make the modified engine interchangeable with previously produced ones);

new wing consoles with four hardpoints on each, increased internal fuel capacity and larger area (the console's shape was flight-tested on a MiG-29K version);

more capable and reliable integrated fly-by-wire flight control systems.

All projects are based on a considerable technical expertise, while the modified engine and fly-by-wire flight control systems are being bench-tested.

Work is underway on all announced updates, as well as the development of several MiG-29SMT versions, such as:

the MiG-29UBT: a version of MiG-29UB combat trainer with increased internal fuel capacity; the flight refueling system; the cockpit and equipment architecture similar to that of the MiG-29SMT; an optional multifunctional radar able to control air-to-air medium-range missiles; and an array of air-to-surface guided weapons. The two-men crew can effectively control group missions and provide target designation for ground-based weapon systems and naval ships, as well as ensure the efficient employment of Ovod-type TV-guided missiles;

the MiG-29SMT can also be used as a reconnaissance platform carrying a variety of special-purpose reconnaissance pods;

large internal fuel capacity, two drop tanks and the UPAZ unified refueling pod are good prerequisites for a MiG-29 tanker version;

technology used on the MiG-29K fighter will help develop a MiG-29SMT deck version. These variants were displayed at major air shows: MAKS '97, ILA '98, and Farnborough '98. The MiG-29UBT made its debut at Farnborough last year.

In terms of combat capability, the modernized MiG-29 (MiG-29SMT) does not yield to the European fourth+ generation fighters (Eurofighter, Rafale, Gripen) and even outclasses them by some parameters. It should be noted that the modernized aircraft will use the existing technical maintenance infrastructure, flight and ground crews. Furthermore, MiG-29's modernization costs will not exceed 10 percent of the price tag of foreign analogs. Modernizing the existing MiG-29s and building new updated versions in compliance with a country's infrastructure are economically feasible and advantageous. This facilitates the coordination of offset programs and allows a customer to choose a requisite MiG-29's technical configuration via an integration of unified equipment standard for this type of aircraft.

The MAPO MIG and Nizhni Novgorod-based Sokol Aircraft Plant (MiG-29 manufacturers) and the MiG Aircraft Research and Production Complex (MiG-29 developer) guarantee operational service support for the aircraft and further enhancement of its combat capabilities during its full life cycle.

MiG-29K TO OPERATE FROM NEW AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

The MiG-29K program has been revived due to several reasons.

The first one is the desire of the Indian Navy to acquire the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier as a totally effective naval system. This called for the provision of the ship with a multi-role ship-based arrested- landing fighter of the MiG-29K size.

Both the versatility and small size of these fighters are their indispensable qualities. The aircraft engages both air targets (including those flying at an altitude of 20 to 60 m) and surface targets. The experience gained in various operations has demonstrated that shipborne aviation can effectively used against ground targets. The small size of the aircraft is essential for the Admiral Gorshkov, as it ensures their safe operation from the carrier's narrow deck, while fitting the dimensions of the hatches, hangar height and strength of the hangar deck.

The equipping of this naval ship with the MiG-29K aircraft makes it a very effective unit, capable of carrying a total of 30 MiG-29K planes and six helicopters. The ship's combat group will include 12 MiG-29K planes, i.e. its flying deck area can permit takeoff and landing of a combat group of this size. This characteristic is of extreme importance, because a further reduction of the combat group to a number below eight machines dramatically downgrades the potential of the aircraft carrier as an overall combat system. Another reason for using the MiG-29K planes is the consistent desire of the Indian Navy to build a light aircraft carrier having a displacement of some 24,000 t, and to have a unified aircraft for both this carrier and the Admiral Gorshkov (the latter has a full displacement of 45,200 t).

Finally, there is a general tendency in the world (except the USA) towards building, at the turn of the century, comparatively small aircraft carriers which have a relatively low construction and maintenance cost; these carriers will be the base for aircraft the size of the MiG-29K, Rafale-M, F/A-18. Currently, this idea is gradually gaining support in Russia. Such a design concept is being studied with a view towards the present economic realities, as well as the future tasks facing the Armed Forces. The Mikoyan Design Bureau has not stopped its work on the MiG-29K aircraft despite the lack of financing since 1992.

In 1984, under the Russian Air Force development program, the MiG-29K was conceived as a multi-role fighter and was supposed to be developed almost simultaneously with the Su-27K (Su-33). In 1989 - 1991 the MiG-29K underwent tests aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser simultaneously with the MiG-29M (a ground-based EtwinC of the MiG-29K). In December 1991, following these successful tests, Russia's Defense Ministry authorized the commencement of its series production and service with Russia's naval aviation, including its operation on board the Admiral Kuznetsov cruiser.

The MiG-29M and MiG-29K planes trebled the number of combat employment regimes in comparison with the fighters designed for engagement of air targets only. The number of guided weapon types carried by the aircraft was doubled, with air-to-ship, air-to-ground and air-to-radar heavy guided missiles added to their arsenal.

However, the aircraft was not launched into series production. December 1991 was the last month when Russia's Defense Ministry could purchase new types of aircraft, battle tanks or missiles. Since January 1992 to date, the situation has aggravated still more.

We know that the MiG-29 is precisely the kind of a multi-role aircraft needed today. Considering the fact that all the characteristics essential for a multirole fighter were incorporated into the MiG-29K at the design stage, and the aircraft has successfully passed all tests aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser, it can now be easily employed for operation from aircraft carriers.

Now, let us consider what the MiG-29K looked like in 1991, what it will look like in 2002 on board the Admiral Gorshkov, and what shape it will take in 2008 on board a light aircraft carrier?

The 1991-built MiG-29K differs from the MiG-29 production model by featuring a new multi-function radar, dubbed Zhuk; a cabin with monochrome display and use of the HOTAS (hands-on-throttle-and-stick) principle; the RVV-AE air-to-air active homing missiles; antiship and antiradar missiles; as well as air-to-ground precision-guided weapons.

The aircraft has a remote control system, large-area (42 m2 vs 38 m2) folding wing, adjustable center-line air intakes with retractable screens protecting the engines during operation from ground airfields, reinforced landing gear, hook, corrosion- protected reinforced fuselage made specifically for deck-based aircraft, better view from the cockpit, more effective high-lift devices for landing and takeoff modes, and new air-brake flaps. The enhanced thrust engine has an emergency rating for takeoff from the deck. The internal fuel load was increased to 4,560 kg vs 3,340 kg of the series-produced MiG-29 largely due to the removal of the upper air intake inlets. The payload was also increased. The maximum weight of the aircraft grew from 19.5 to 22.4 t. Composite materials were widely used to manufacture its structural elements. Advanced alloys were also used, but to a lesser extent.

The aircraft can engage air targets, including low-flying ones, as well as destroy ships and ground targets with precision-guided weapons.

During its tests aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser, the aircraft had a springboard-assisted takeoff from strips 195 m and 95 m long. According to the results of the tests, the landing accuracy proved to be very high, which made it possible at a later stage to switch over to a three-cable arrester system on the Admiral Gorshkov.

The 2002-built MiG-29K will feature better cockpit avionics with versatile liquid-crystal color displays. The cockpit was tested by Russian Air Force pilots on the MiG-29SMT fighters and was approved by them. The Indian Air Force pilots also flew the MiG-29SMTs and they also greatly appreciated the information-control field facilities of the cockpit.

The potential of the aircraft's navigational systems will be markedly increased through the installation of a satellite navigation system which has also successfully passed tests aboard the MiG-29SMT aircraft. The capabilities of airborne computers and weapons control systems will be enhanced as well.

The reduced weight and space required of the onboard equipment will help increase the internal fuel load, as compared to the 1991-built MiG-29K. The aircraft operated from an aircraft carrier will have an effective radius of 850 km for air combat and 1,150 km for antiship and strike operations (without refueling).

The aircraft has retained the in-flight refueling system. An aerial tanker version of the MiG-29K has also been developed.

The aircraft armament comprises the RVV-AE air-to-air active homing missiles; the R-27R1 semi-active homing missiles; the R-27ER1 increased-range missiles; the R-73, R-27E1, R-27TE1 heat-seeking missiles; the Kh-31A and Kh-35 antiship missiles; the TV-guided weapons; and, with an optional sight pod installed, laser weapons. An open-type architecture of the aircraft enables it to carry foreign-made weapons as well.

The landing accuracy is additionally enhanced through the employment of an autothrottle system. The takeoff characteristics make it possible to perform 90 percent of flights under tropical conditions when the carrier ship speed is 10 knots.

The assortment of the onboard equipment has been thought over with due consideration for the possible use by India of existing repair and maintenance facilities supplied at different times to it to service 70 MiG-29Bs. Engines can be overhauled in India.

The RD-33 series-III engine, a record holder in terms of total service life and reliability among the Russian-made fighter engines, will have an increased takeoff thrust, as well as extra corrosion protection.

Aluminum-lithium alloys used in some structural members have been excluded because of their high cost.

A 2008-built MiG-29K model will be a further development of the 2002-built version. However, all the novelties will be incorporated in a manner allowing their use on the aircraft supplied previously.

The intelligence of the airborne radar digital computer will be dramatically increased without changing the hardware.

The range of combat missions can be increased by adding optronic sight pods as well as radar, infrared imaging and reconnaissance equipment. The takeoff characteristics will be improved to increase the combat load of the aircraft operated from a light aircraft carrier using a smaller-size springboard.

The time is not ripe yet to disclose all the details of these projects, but we can say now that the MiG-29K, according to the Mikoyan Design Bureau estimates, has a significant potential due to its excellent aerodynamics and suitable dimensions.


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