Egypt is closing a deal with Russia to buy not 24, or 46 – as earlier reported – but even up to 62 Mikoyan-Gurevich designed MiG-29 and/or MiG-35 Fulcrum fighters from Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, sources in the Middle East say.
For months there have been conflicting reports on the type and number of Fulcrums the Egyptian Air Force is likely to get. In May we at Airheadsfly.com reported that Cairo was in fact interested in the MiG-35 – which is a further development of the MiG-29. We won’t rule out a combination deal: 48 MiG-29SMTs and 24 MiG-35s – or 46 MiG-35s and 26 MiG-29SMTs. But a day after the renewed rumours, Moscow officials denied any immediate plans to deliver MiGs to Egypt.
The new Russian MiGs will be first and foremost be used to replace the aging MiG-21 Fishbed, with about 56 of them still serving. The Egypian Air Force also operates 57 somewhat similar Chengdu J-7s provided by China, as well as 18 Dassault Mirage 2000s. Several tens of Mirage Vs (out of 82 delivered) are also on duty.
Russian company Fazotron-NIIR is improving the on board radar of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K shipborne fighter jets of the Russian Navy and the new serial production MiG-35 aircraft, or Fulcrum respectively Fulcrum-F if we go by the NATO-reporting names for these types.
The modernization of the Zhuk-M radar focuses on improving software. “It will add new means to how the radar works with land and sea targets”, a statement of the state-owned Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC) reads. The Indian Navy’s MiG-29K/KUBs are also to profit from the improvements, with their radars being designated Zhuk-ME – with the E for Export.
MiG-29s and MiG-35s equipped with the Zhuk-M(E) can track 20 air targets and attack four simultaneously from ranges of at least 65 nautical miles (120 km) in air-to-air mode, and up to 27 nm (50 km) for surface targets.
Egypt and Russia are said to be close to a deal for 24 MiG-35 Fulcrum fighter aircraft for the Egyptian Air Force. Negotiations have been ongoing for over a year, and the deal closely follows that for 24 Dassault Rafales in February this year.
The MiG-35 is a further development of the MiG-29 Fulcrum and can be equipped with RD-33OVT engines with thrust vectoring nozzles. The type was first shown in 2007.
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.
LATEST UPDATE 17 APRIL 2014 | The Russian Air Force will get another 16 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 SMT fighter-bombers, the Ministry of Defence in Moscow confirmed on 15 April 2014. According to the department Russia pays only about 470 to 480 million US dollar (17 billion rubels) for the aircraft.
The MiG-29 SMT, called Fulcrum by NATO, has additional built-in fuel-tanks to fly further, a special paint to reduce its radar profile and is able to operate with a new range of anti-ship and air-to-ground missiles. The Russian Air Force already has 28 of these fighters in its inventory, serving with the Western Military District with the first delivered in 2009.
Moscow also confirmed it wants up to 100 of the new MiG-35Cs it showcased in 2013. Deliveries should commence in 2016. This Fulcrum-F is an even 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. Mikoyan-Gurevich’s general director Sergei Korotkov calls the MiG-35 a 4th Plus Plus generation fighter.
Source: Russian Ministry of Defence / Mikoyan-Gurevich