The Russian Air Force will operate two squadrons of the new Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-35 multi-role fighters comprising 30 aircraft by 2020, Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Yuriy Borisov said during a recent visit to the Nizhegorodskiy Aircraft Manufacturering Plant “Sokol” in Nizhniy Novgorod.
While visiting the plant about 240 miles (380 km) east of Moscow Mr. Borisov inspected the MiG-29 facilities as well as the MiG-31 overhaul. The latter, a long-range interceptor called “Foxhound” by NATO, is “a critical machine” to the Russian military. “That’s why we’ll have more than 130 upgraded MiG-31BMs operational in the next decade,” according to the Deputy Defence Minister. The new number is interesting, because previously it was known that the Russian Air Force has only 122 Foxhounds still on strength, with the modernisation program sanctioned for only 110 of them. The 25th upgraded MiG-31BM is expected to rotate back into the active force any time soon, with the program aiming at a turn-around of 12 to 13 Foxhounds a year.
No word yet on the basing locations of the new MiG-35, but we at Airheadsfly.com assume the first two squadrons will be positioned within 150 miles range of Russia’s western borders. Moscow is expected to order at least a hundred of these aircraft that NATO reports as “Fulcrum-F”, but more recently 180 production aircraft have been named as well. Before the production order is given, the Russian military awaits flight testing of two prototypes of the new jet fighter. It is not sure whether the production delivery timeline of the first aircraft in 2016 will still be met.
The Fulcrum-F is a further developed version of the MiG-29 with a better active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, more powerful engines, a Optical Locator System and a better ability to engage multiple targets in the air and on sea / on the ground at the same time. The MiG-35 will be able to carry a higher weapons load at nine external stations, an increased fuel capacity, an in-flight refuelling system and a fly-by-wire system that has three-channels and quadruple redundancy.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the Russian Aircraft Corporation
Featured image (top): The new Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-35 (Image © Russian Aircraft Corporation)