How many Egyptian multirole MiG-29s have been captured in Sudan?

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KHARTOUM, SUDAN — In the past 24 hours, a video has been shared online claiming that an Egyptian MiG-29 has been captured in Sudan. The video is gaining popularity, especially on social networks. The video is said to have been recorded at Merowe Airbase, Sudan.

Video screenshot

According to incoming reports, the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces [RSF] have captured not only the Egyptian MiG-29 but the aircraft’s crew as well as several Egyptian soldiers. Is an Egyptian MiG-29 really captured in Sudan? Are the MiG-29 crew really captured and held captive? Are there other Egyptian soldiers held captive in Sudan? BulgarianMilitary.com answers these and other questions from the Sudanese coup in recent hours.

What is happening in Sudan?

This is not the first coup in the African country. The last coup happened just a few months ago – October 2021. Then the country began to be governed by several Sudanese generals forming a Council of Generals. At this council, a dispute arose between two generals, a dispute which would lead to the events of today.

The conflict arises at the moment when there is a proposal for Sudan to begin to exist under civilian rule. I.e. The Council of Generals to be dissolved, after holding civil elections.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is one party to the dispute. In reality, he is the commander-in-chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces or SAF. According to this logic, at the moment he is considered the “president” of Sudan. General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo is the deputy of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. However, General Dagalo is the commander of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces [RSF].

At the heart of the dispute is what form the RSF will take. In recent days, redistribution of RSF has started in different parts of the country. General Dagalo and his soldiers see this as a threat to the existence of the RSF as the country’s defining military unit. Sometime on Saturday morning, the first gun goes off. Who and where this happens remains unknown. But this is how the conflict in Sudan begins.

Egyptian forces in Sudan

There are Egyptian forces in Sudan. They are not in the country because of the conflict, or suspecting that a conflict will break out. Cairo is sending its soldiers as well as fighter jets with their crews to take part in a joint Sudanese-Egyptian military exercise. It could be argued that the Egyptian military is in Sudan “by bad luck.”

That’s one point of view. The other point of view challenges such a claim. According to incoming reports from sources that cannot be determined as reliable, however, Egyptian forces were in Sudan to support General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. I.e. of the Sudanese army. “Egypt strongly opposes the transfer of power from the Sudanese army to a civilian government,” some pro-RSF sources said.

Photo credit: Twitter

The following fact can be accepted as credible: there are Egyptian soldiers in Sudan and they are detained by the RSF. There are a lot of photos and video material from Marawi, north of Khartoum. The information has been confirmed by several independent sources, including the Turkish media outlet SavunmaSanayiST, which has been following the events closely.

Was the Egyptian MiG-29 captured in Sudan?

A video of RSF soldiers next to a plane that bears a striking resemblance to the Soviet-designed MiG-29 has been shared online. It is said to be an Egyptian MiG-29. We have established that there are Egyptian soldiers in Sudan, as well as representatives of the Egyptian Air Force participating in a Sudanese-Egyptian military exercise.

Research associate for defense and military analyst Joseph Dempsey were one of the first to tweet the video. In his tweet, he wrote that it was an Egyptian MiG-29 currently located at Sudan’s Merowe air base. Dempsey shared the geolocation of where the video was recorded [18.44283, 31.84061]. “Of significance is the presence of a number of Egypt Air Force Mig-29M/M2 Fulcrum,” he also wrote in his message. This message of his confirms that there are Egyptian MiG-29s deployed in Sudan. Turkish journalist Mete Sohtaoglu also shared a similar video, confirming Dempsey’s claims.

At the same time, claims emerged that the video in question was not from the coup in Sudan this Saturday, but recorded much earlier. According to sources close to the SAF, the video was recorded in Libya during the internal conflict two years ago. The SAF source claimed that the RSF was there on the side of Field Marshal Halifa Haftar.

However, it turns out that the last claim [that this video is from Libya] is false. The video was recorded this Saturday in Sudan. Later, Clash Report journalists confirmed the claims, even writing that not one, but at least two Egyptian MiG-29s were captured in Sudan.

What will happen to the Egyptian MiG-29s and soldiers?

There are at least two captured Egyptian MiG-29s in Sudan that were based at Merowe air base. One was on the runway, and the other was in the hangar. Both fighters have been removed from the landing/takeoff area.

According to Turkish sources, “Egypt regularly deploys at least three of its MiG-29s in Sudan.” If this information is true, the question remains what happens to the third Egyptian fighter. Some reports claim that it was also captured.

Photo credit: Twitter
Photo credit: Twitter

Such a claim is gaining momentum after a source shared pictures from the hangar at the Sudanese air base. Depending on the perspective, three MiG-29s are visible – two tightly parked against the side wall of the hangar, and one almost in the center of the hangar.

Captured Egyptian aircraft and soldiers are under RSF control. “They are taken hostage” is the most common presentation of the situation. The official RSF Twitter account said that Egypt’s equipment and soldiers were separated from what was happening. They are detained, and when the conflict is over, or sooner, with the help of Cairo, they will be returned to the country [the planes too].

Mikoyan MiG-29

The Mikoyan MiG-29 was a Soviet fighter jet, the flagship of Soviet aviation during the Cold War. Developed in the late 1970s and introduced in the early 1980s, the MiG-29 occupies an important part of Russian combat aviation history. It is one of the most recognizable fighters in the world, along with its competitor – the American F-16.

It is currently in service in 25 countries. At least so are its former operators. The MiG-29 is a twin-engine fighter. The fighter’s power unit consists of two Klimov RD-33 after-burning turbofan engines, 49.42 kN [11,110 lbf] thrust each dry, 81.58 kN [18,340 lbf] with afterburner. Its maximum speed is Mach 2.3 or 2,450 km/h [1,520 mph, 1,320 kn] at high altitudes. Its range is 1,430 km, while its maximum range is between 700 and 900 km. Pilots must withstand a load of +9g.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The fighter is armed with one 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon with 150 rounds. Under the wings and fuselage, the MiG-29 has seven hardpoints [6 × underwing, 1 × fuselage] with a capacity of up to 4,000 kg [8,800 lb] of stores. It can carry anti-ship missiles, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as bombs.

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