Will Russia replace its obsolete MiG-29 fleet with MiG-35s?

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MOSCOW, BM, ($1= 72.11 ruble) – The MiG-35 fighter, based on the popular MiG-29, is currently completing state tests in Russia, the MiG Aircraft Corporation (part of the United Aircraft Corporation) announced. The company relies on internal orders and a complete replacement of the medium fighters currently used in the Russian Federation with this design.

If the test results are positive, the new type of aircraft will receive a certificate authorizing the start of pilot production of this batch of fighters. Representatives of MiG Aircraft Corporation now seem confident of success and say that the test crew flew very well on the presented aircraft. She described flying as “easy”. At present, the problems that have arisen in connection with the operation of the machine need to be resolved.

Let us recall that in July 2017 in the MAX showroom the Russian Ministry of Defense agreed to purchase 24 MiG-35s as part of the 2018-2027 program. The first contract for six machines was signed a year later in June 2019, and the Russian Air and Space Forces received the first two serial machines, which began the cycle of their inspections and tests. In addition to these two aircraft, there are six preliminary MiG-35 series that have been used for demonstrations and factory tests.

However, MiG relies on more than a contract for 24 aircraft. It is about replacing the MiG-29, which is currently owned by the Russian Federation. It is real because these aircraft are lighter and cheaper to operate than the heavy machines of the Su-27 family, as well as the struggling and still highly “sustainable for the future” Su-57. Russia simply cannot afford to invest solely in heavy air combat platforms, which are expensive to buy and operate. These machines are too expensive for many tasks.

To increase its chances in the domestic and foreign markets, MiG is offering a new aircraft for the Striży flight crew using six Fulcrums. Replacing the MiG-35 in the aerobatic team would not be strange, given that in the second aerobatic team – Russkije Witiazi – it has recently changed from the Su-27 to a much more modern Su-30CM.

There are currently 267 MiG-29s in service in the Russian Federation, plus 22 naval vehicles. They appear to be in poor technical condition and do not occur, for example, during accidents involving NATO or other aircraft. The current Su-27 family machines are everywhere.

A bitter time of truth for the Russian 29s was in late 2008 when a series of crashes followed and some planes began to crash into the air. Moscow then landed their entire fleet, then numbering several hundred aircraft and conducting detailed inspections. It turned out that 70 percent of the machines have technical problems due to their age and low-quality technical culture in their work. It was also pointed out at the time that the planes had not received any upgrades or undergone major treatment since the collapse of the Soviet Union almost 20 years earlier.

Flights resumed in February 2009, but many machines were decommissioned. 91 needed a complete overhaul due to corrosion and initially, only 100 were allowed to operate. Since then, modernization work (up to the MiG-29SMT standard) and overhaul of these aircraft have begun, but another ten years have passed. At that time, the Russian Federation purchased only 16 new MiG-29SMTs. In addition, 35 MiG-29SMT / UBTs had to be exported to Algeria. The African state did not accept these machines, as it was discovered that they were not based on factory-new but old constructions.

Therefore, it seems advisable to replace your fleet with another medium-sized fighter. However, it is not known whether their replacement with the MiG-35 in a ratio of 1:1 is feasible due to the cost and the announcement of the creation of light, probably a single-engine light fighter. Not to mention the fact that the MiG-35 is, despite all the improvements over its predecessor, still a 4th generation fighter, in addition to a twin-engine and thus relatively expensive to operate.

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