KYIV, (BM) – “In 2021, the Ukrainian Government will sign a contract for the modernization of the MiG-29 with an Israeli company with the broad involvement of several domestic companies,” said Oleksandr Mironiuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense for Armaments. The goal is to extend these machines’ operation until 2035 and extend their capabilities to destroy ground targets, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24.
In an interview with journalists from the Defense-Express news portal, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister was responsible for modernization programs. The arms industry announced plans to modernize selected combat aircraft types for the next 15 years. According to Oleksandr Mironiuk, after some modernization works, it will be possible to operate Su-25 attack aircraft and MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters until 2035.
Works of this type are carried out by Ukrainian aviation plants and aim to increase operational capabilities. In the case of the Su-27, the changes mainly include the radar station and fire control system and newer generations of R-27 air-to-air missiles. The Su-25 attack aircraft are adapted to carry radio- and laser-guided missiles and bombs. The works include, among others, the installation of a laser target pointer in a stabilized optoelectronic head and tests of Ukrainian-made guided bombs.
Works on MiG-29 aircraft are the most advanced. There is already a squadron of modernized MiG-29MU1 fighter machines in service. From January 2020, the MiG-29MU2 version of the MiG-29MU2, which is adapting to destroying ground targets with guided weapons, has been undergoing flight tests. Today it is armed with post-Soviet air-to-ground missiles Ch-29T and KAB-500KR TV-guided bombs, but it will also include Ukrainian missiles and bombs, including laser-guided ones.
According to the statements of Oleksandr Mironiuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense for Armaments, an agreement with an Israeli company is to be signed next year, which is to carry out further modernization and probably “westernization” of MiG-29 aircraft. Israel Aerospace Industries or Elbit Systems will most likely be a partner of the Lwowskie Zakłady Lotniczo-Remontowe, which implemented the MIG-29MU1 and MU2 programs, and other Ukrainian entities.
Both companies have experience in the modernization of post-Soviet aviation equipment. They implemented programs such as the comprehensive modernization of Romanian aircraft to the MiG-21 Lancer-R standard or much less ambitious modifications of the Polish MiG-29. Israel also offers a wide range of guided weapons that can be integrated into these types of machines.
The plans to modernize MiG-29s and Su-25s and Su-27s machines are part of “Vision of the Air Force 2035” announced in the spring of 2020, which is part of a more comprehensive project, the framework of which is outlined in the document “Vision of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” It is a plan to reorganize Ukraine’s armed forces as a whole, including structure, equipment, and mission objectives. This document can be described as something between the Polish Technical Modernization Program and the National Security Strategy.
Ukraine unveils its own new reconnaissance and strike UAV Sokol-300
The Ukrainian design office KB “Lucz” presented on November 7 the “Sokol-300” reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicle, which was to be premiered during the Arms and Security 2020 exhibition in Kiev, which was canceled due to the pandemic.
The machine is armed with 4 Barier-W guided missiles produced by the same company. The prototype flight is planned in about 8-9 months, provided financing of the project is secured. The presentation of the full-size model of the Sokol-300 unmanned aerial vehicle took place at the “WIZAR” plant in Wiszniewo near Kielce.
Interestingly, from July this year, when information about this unmanned aerial vehicle first appeared, it changed its name from Sokol-200 to Sokol-300. This means that the maximum lifting capacity has been increased to 300 kg. The machine has a classic for this class of UAV layout with a push propeller, an engine at the end of the fuselage and a butterfly tail.
The fuselage is 8.57 m long and the wingspan is 14 m. The maximum take-off weight ranges from 1130 to 1225 kg, depending on the propulsion unit used, and the curb weight varies between 420 kg and 535 kg. There are three options that affect performance and weight: the Ukrainian MS-500W and I-450T turbine engines from Motor Sich, or the four-cylinder Rotax 914 turbocharged. Turboprop variants achieve higher altitude and speed, but at the expense of flight time, which was set at 26 hours for the piston engine version. However, in this version the maximum speed is 210 km / h, while in the variant powered by the MS-500 turbine it is over 580 km / h.
The load capacity of the armament is to reach not 200 kg as previously planned, but 300 kg and allow the carrying of 4 Barier-W guided missiles or other types of weapons, depending on the type of task being carried out. In the front part of the fuselage, a special fairing houses the Radionix synthetic aperture radar, which provides both reconnaissance and terrain navigation in all conditions. Under the fuselage there is the Ukrainian OPSN-I optoelectronic head, also used in the digitized and armed with guided missiles version of the Mi-8MSB-W helicopter, presented at last year’s Arms and Security 2019 exhibition in Kiev.
The Sokol-300 machine is to have wide possibilities of autonomous take-off and landing and navigation based on the GPS / INS system, as well as terrain recognition based on digital maps. These systems use solutions proven in the construction of the RC-360 Neptun maneuvering missile, which, in principle, is a subsonic, unmanned jet airframe. Interestingly, the RKP-360 command vehicle used in the RK-360MC Neptun cruise missile system can be used as the control post. The operating radius was determined in the first version at 150 km in the most mobile variant and 300 km with the use of a suitable mast or retransmission, which indicates that the designer does not plan to use satellite links, but only direct radio link.
As the representatives of KB “Lucz” argue, about 85% of the work related to this project has already been completed, while the remaining 15% is primarily flight tests and confirmation of proper cooperation of individual elements. Therefore, from the moment of obtaining financing, the prototype is to be ready for flight within a maximum of 9 months. In terms of operational capabilities, the Sokół-300 machine is intended to fill the gap between the tactical Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles already used by Ukraine and the Baykar Akinci machines that are in the final stage of development, which are likely to be produced by Turkey in cooperation with Ukraine.
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