The war in Ukraine shifts the focus from other topics. In the last few weeks, the mass production of the Russian MiG-35 fighter jet has been increasingly mentioned in the Russian media. In fact, this is not a guess, but an officially announced restart of serial production of the light Russian fighter Mikoyan. Officially
- Russia uses an airframe from the 80s to build MiG-35 Fulcrum-F
- MiG-35 comes with combined onboard equipment from Su-30/Su-35
- Russia ‘shots’ its most advanced fighter – the MiG-35 Fulcrum-F
In connection with the current situation in the western part of our continent, the construction of the combat capabilities of the Russian Air Force is once again relevant. During the international military exhibition, Aero India-2023, the executive director of the United Aircraft Corporation [UAC] Mr. Yuri Slyusar announced the new production of the MiG-35.
According to Russian experts, Russia’s domestic defense industry seriously fears that in the event of a large-scale conflict, there will not be enough combat aircraft. It is for this reason that UAC decided to resume mass production, local experts say.
If the MiG-35s are really needed, then who?
Conventionally, any modern air force should consist of one-third heavy aircraft and two-thirds light fighters. This is indeed a direct guarantee of the success of the “successfully” formed armed forces. Heavy military aircraft are designed to solve the most complex combat tasks, even non-standard ones.
Light combat units are literally omnipresent – they perform a large part of the missions and can be brought in at any time when needed. It is for this reason that the UAC is reviving the MiG-35 fighters.
No deliveries are planned for the current year . According to sources in the Russian media, such deliveries are planned for 2024. There is no word yet on how many MiG-35s Russia would like to acquire.
There are currently six units in series production. Two more MiG-35s were produced, but they were prototypes. The six MiG-35s have been transferred to the Swifts aerobatic team.
Will the MiG-35 counter Western fighters?
The MiG-35 actually has many advantages. First, it is easy to adapt any of the latest weapons to modernized light fighters, since the implemented principle of “open architecture” allows the modification of modern weapons in the shortest possible time. Secondly, the attack aircraft will be equipped with an active electronically scanned array [AESA] Zhuk-AM. Why is it important? Because a good fighter is a living fighter. The sooner the enemy is spotted, the sooner it will be destroyed.
According to some reports, the station is capable of detecting any target with an effective spread area of about 5 m² at a distance of about 225 km. This means that an F-22-type target with an EPR of 0.5 m² will be detected by Russian radar already at a distance of 80 miles (126 km) from the carrier – a distance proportional to the 4th power of 10.
The older “birds” – F-15, F-16, F-18 – will appear on the radar from a distance of 200 km. In general, the functionality of Zhuk-AM is similar to the capabilities of the F-16 radar.
MiG-35 is the Russian most advanced fighter
This is not only a Russian opinion. Many Western experts also believe that the MiG-35 is the most advanced Russian fighter jet that Russia has managed to stop producing. Although the information about it is mostly according to the technical specifications, they cannot be ignored.
The MiG-35 can track up to 30 targets and engage six targets simultaneously. The MiG-35 has been described by the American publication 19fortyfive.com as a “brain power”. I.e. the aircraft can easily be integrated to operate autonomously with other air platforms and fighters of the Russian Air Force. Something achievable for today’s fifth-generation fighters [MiG-35 is 4++ gen].
The MiG-35 can reach a top speed of Mach 2.25. It can fly at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet, and the airframe is designed to withstand 9G in the positive limits and 3G m in the negative limits. The MiG-35 is powered by two Klimov RD-33MK turbofan engines with an afterburner.
If the MiG-35 was in Ukraine today
The MiG-35 would be a major success in Ukraine. This fighter is perfectly suited to be directly targeted against tanks, ships, and heavy artillery. It is armed with guided and unguided bombs, air-to-air, and air-to-ground missiles, and a highly lethal 30mm cannon. The MiG-35 has an integrated electronic warfare pod, making it super suitable for attacking enemy air defense systems.
Western experts give it an “A” rating for maneuverability. This fighter is super maneuverable. It performs missions at supercritical angles of attack without any problems at an increased level of sustained and available g-loads and a high degree of yaw angle.
Why not Su-75 Checkmate?
Russia has a very interesting project – Su-75. Why don’t they develop it then? In fact, “Checkmate” is developing, but not as fast as the Russians would like. However, the Su-75 is a very promising development that is not known when it will be tested and it is not known when it will be put into production.
Yes, the Su-75 has its advantages, but in general, apart from the single-engine design, more powerful radar, and stealth technologies, this “dryer” completely performs the same set of tasks as the MiG-35.
That is why local Russian experts believe that Moscow is making the right decision to increase its air fleet with MiG-35s. These fighters can only be retired when the Su-75 is named, and there will be at least about a hundred in service.
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