Military Aviation

HERE’S WHY THE MiG-35 FULCRUM-FOXTROT IS NOT RUSSIA’S ULTIMATE FIGHTER

Technical specifications were a secondary factor in MiG-35 development, given that Russian Ministry of Defense wants the Fulcrum-Foxtrot as cheaply as possible

As we have recently reported, on Jan. 26, 2016 the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (MiG) demonstrated the new MiG-35 to Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the company, the Fulcrum-Foxtrot is a a 4+++ generation jet fighter that is a further development of the MiG-29M/M2 and MiG-29K/KUB fighters.

In fact the MiG-35 would feature advancements on MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 fighters in combat efficiency enhancement, universality and operational characteristics improvement.

But as a Russian industry source explained to The National Interest, the aircraft would be only an upgraded land-based version of the MiG-29KR, the carrier variant of the Fulcrum, rather than the advanced warplane proposed to India at the time of Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition.

Actually the MiG-35 doesn’t feature neither the thrust vectoring nor an AESA radar, because the MiG-35 project would be only intended to maintain RSK-MiG production line as well as for export.

The source claims that technical specifications were a secondary factor, given that Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) wants the Fulcrum-Foxtrot as cheaply as possible. Hence why foreign customers who can buy the MiG-35 are still buying the jet without an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

In fact the radar that Putin referred to during the aircraft roll out is a mechanically scanned version of the Zhuk rather an AESA: actually even if the radar is able to follow 10 to 30 targets at once, is not nearly close to being comparable to an AESA.

However MiG has developed an effective 4+++ generation fighter: indeed the company has created a multi-spectrum system that was integrated into the armament system and that can additionally be installed aboard the MiG-35.

But the Russian Air and Space Force (RuASF) still prefers procuring derivatives of the Flanker family which would be more capable and versatile aircraft.

That’s why, as explained by The National Interest, what United Aircraft Corporation general designer and vice president for innovations Sergei Korotkov told Putin sounds more like a plea than anything else. “We hope that after the trials, the Defense Ministry will buy this machine and that foreign customers will also come to sign contracts with us.”

Noteworthy MiG-35 would not be the first project issued by Russia only to keep a company in business: in fact the Sukhoi Su-30M2 project existed only to keep open KnAAPO production lines.

Photo credit: Dmitriy Pichugin and Россин Денис Владимирович via Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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