The Russian Defence Ministry has awarded a contract to MiG for the supply of 16 MiG-29 SMT Fulcrum multirole fighter aircraft to the national air force.

The ministry said in a statement that the contract, which also covers provision of ground support and test equipment, has a maximum potential value of RUB17bn ($470m).

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"The contract is a strategic measure for maintaining the combat readiness of the lightweight fighter fleet," the statement said.

The new MiG-29SMT fighters will enable the Russian Air Force to maintain its operational inventory of light fighter aircraft, IHS Janes reports citing a statement from MiG’s parent company, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov was quoted by the news agency as saying, "This order will allow the company to look to the future and will be a good starting point for the production of new aircraft, such as the MiG-35S."

Manufactured by Mikoyan design bureau, the MiG-29 Fulcrum is a fourth-generation jet fighter aircraft designed to destroy hostile air and surface targets within radar coverage limits using unguided weapons during visual flight conditions.

"The new MiG-29SMT fighters will enable the Russian Air Force to maintain its operational inventory of light fighter aircraft."

Powered by two RD-33 turbofan engines, the aircraft has been developed in several variants, such as Mikoyan MiG-29M and naval variant Mikoyan MiG-29K.

It can be also be modified to use a broad spectrum of air-to-surface armaments and precision munitions.

In addition to Russia, the aircraft is also operational with the air forces of Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, North Korea, Poland and Ukraine.

Meanwhile, a defence ministry spokesman was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that the ministry is also planning to sign a contract for the delivery of MiG-35S fighters after 2016.

Image: A MIG-29 fighter aircraft of the Russian Air Force. Photo: courtesy of MSGT PAT NUGENT.

Defence Technology