MiG-29 fighter with a new role – it performs the task of air cover

The Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Strategic Committee shared footage of the active operation of Su-25 and MiG-29 tactical aircraft on the front lines during confrontations with Russian forces. 

Air defense shot down two MiG-29s and one Su-25 over Ukraine
Photo credit: Ukrainian MoD

The events captured in this video likely occurred during this summer. The video showcases several remarkable instances, such as a Su-25 soaring at a low altitude over a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter, or Ukrainian assault aircraft executing maneuvers in pairs. 

However, an interesting observation in the video is the role of the MiG-29s in providing air cover, setting an unconventional ratio of ‘one fighter to two Stonetroopers’. 

Russia downed 17 Ukrainian MiG-29s in 10 days two dozen left
Photo credit: YouTube

Previously, various resources have outlined how Soviet-style fighters in the Ukrainian forces might not match up to the standards required for contemporary aerial warfare, particularly as opposed to Russian Su-34 and Su-35 aircraft. It’s been noted that MiG-29s are adapted to carry AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles or JDAM-ER precision-guided aerial bombs. 

It might come as a surprise, given the stressed necessity for modern technology and fighters for Ukrainian pilots, to see that the very same MiG-29s are tasked with providing air protection for strike aircraft. 

F-16 joystick feel is interesting, not like MiG-29 - a UKR pilot
YouTube screenshot

However, without fighter cover, Ukrainian pilots can’t initiate airstrikes against Russian forces. Thus, it appears that the presence of escorting fighters for Ukrainian strike aircraft carries both technical and morale-boosting implications, perhaps fostering greater faith in one’s own arsenal.

In 2018, Ukraine initiated a comprehensive modernization of its MiG-29s. This transformation turned the MiG-29 Fulcrum into a 4+ generation multirole aircraft under the projects termed MiG-29MU1 and MiG-29MU2. 

The responsibility of advancing the MiG-29 was primarily entrusted to LSARP, backed by Rockwell Collins following a strategic agreement carried out in 2017 in Kiev. LSARP manages other Ukrainian contractors who play a part in the MiG-29MU1/MU2 project. These include Orizon-Navigation [DPO-N], Novator, Phazotron-Ukraine, Arsenal, Design Bureau for Laser Technology, Elektroprilad, AVIARM, Avia-Radioservice, and SDO Tecon-Electron. 

MiG-29 can't shoot anything down with its 40-year-old radar
Photo credit: Wikimedia

The novel SN-3307 satellite navigation system incorporates its receiver in the primary MiG-29MU1 upgrade, enhancing navigation and instrument landing. Another significant change is the advanced N019-19 radar with an increased range of target detection. 

Furthermore, Ukraine’s own Radionix supplies the Omut electronic defense system. This includes a radar warning/reconnaissance subsystem, an updated database of imminent threats, and a powerful electronic countermeasure system. Omut comes in two versions: an integrated install and a standalone capsule. 

The MiG-29MU2, an evolution from the MiG-29MU1, introduces various premier systems. These include a higher-grade 20PM weapons control system, a further enhanced R-862 radio system, a replacement for the A-323 RSBN navigation system, and an MSD-2000 data bus. 

The MiG-29MU2’s crowning feature is its superior ground target engagement. Preceding MiG-29s were restricted to unguided missiles and airborne guns for ground targets, but the MU2 integrates Kh-29T electro-optical/TV-guided missiles [“Russian Maverick”] and KAB-500KR EO/TV-guided bombs.

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