The MiG-29K fighter bomber aircraft is manufactured by RSK MiG and the Irkutsk Aircraft Production Association Joint Stock Company. The MiG-29, 30 and 33 are known by the Nato code name Fulcrum.
The MiG-29K is the carrier-based version. It took off for its maiden flight in October 1977 and entered service in August 1983.
The mission of the MiG-29 is to destroy hostile air targets within radar coverage limits and to destroy ground targets using unguided weapons in visual flight conditions.
The aircraft’s fixed-wing profile with large wing leading-edge root extensions gives good manoeuvrability and control at subsonic speeds, including manoeuvres at high angles of attack. The maximum operational g-loading is 9g.
A two-seater version, MiG-29M2, took its maiden flight in 2001. A super-manoeuvrable variant, MiG-29M OVT, with 3D thrust-vectoring engine nozzles was successfully demonstrated at the Farnborough International Airshow in July 2006. The nozzle has three hydraulic actuators mounted around the engine to deflect the thrust. The aircraft is offered to potential customers as the MiG-35.
MiG-29 Fulcrum deployments
About 1,600 MiG-29s are operational worldwide and approximately 600 MiG-29s and variants are in service with the Russian Air Force.
The fighter is also in service with the air forces of Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cuba, Eritrea, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, North Korea, Peru, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Syria, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.
MiG-29 orders and deliveries
The 22 MiG-29 aircraft in the German Air Force have been leased to the Polish Air Force. The first five were handed over in September 2003 and deliveries concluded in August 2004.
In January 2004, India ordered 16 new MiG-29Ks (12 single-seat and four two-seater MiG-29KUB) to equip the INS Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov) carrier, which was bought from the Russian Navy for $1.5bn. The first production MiG-29K made its maiden flight in March 2008. The first four aircraft were delivered to the Indian Navy in December 2009.
The MiG-29Ks were designated as Black Panthers by the Indian Navy. In March 2010, the Indian Navy unveiled plans to purchase a further 30 aircraft for its indigenous aircraft carrier. In August 2004, the Defence Ministry of Sudan announced it would acquire a further 12 MiG-29 aircraft, converting options under a contract for ten fighters placed in 2002. Deliveries on the original contract concluded in July 2004.
Algeria placed an order for 34 MiG-29 fighters and the upgrade of 30 aircraft in the Algerian fleet in January 2006. 12 upgraded aircraft were delivered in 2007, but were not accepted by Algeria, which cancelled the upgrade programme in February 2008.
The Mongolian Air Force announced its plan to procure five MiG-29 aircraft in July 2011.
The Ministry of Defence of India approved the purchase of 21 MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia for the Indian Air Force in June 2020.
The Russian Air Force has begun an upgrade programme for 150 of its MiG-29 fighters, which is designated MiG-29SMT.
The upgrade comprises: increased range and payloads, new glass cockpits, digital fly-by-wire control systems, new avionics, improved radars, KOLS infrared search and track (IRST) and an in-flight refuelling probe. The improved radar Phazotron Zhuk-ME is capable of tracking ten targets to a maximum range of 245km.
Twelve MiG-29s of the Air Force of Yemen were upgraded to SMT standard. The first was delivered in October 2004.
EADS (formerly DaimlerChrysler Aerospace) is to upgrade 22 MiG-29 aircraft of the Polish Air Force. Modifications are needed to adapt the aircraft to Nato standards, prior to Poland’s entry into Nato.
EADS has performed similar modifications to the MiG-29s of the former East German Air Force. It has joined with RSK-MiG to offer modernisation packages for the MiG-29 and signed an agreement with Romania for product support and modernisation.
EADS, Aerostar of Romania and Elbit of Israel have also launched an upgrade, the MiG-29 Sniper, which includes modernisation and maintenance of the airframe and engines, and upgrades of the avionics with a new Elbit digital mission computer and weapon systems, and the installation of a glass cockpit.
In February 2004, RSK MiG signed an agreement to upgrade 12 Slovak Air Force MiG-29s. The upgrade included Rockwell Collins navigation and communications systems and a BAE Systems IFF system. Russian companies supplied the glass cockpit with multifunctional LCD displays and digital processors. Deliveries were completed in 2007.
In December 2006, India placed a contract with MiG to upgrade 63 of its older MiG-29 aircraft (which entered service between 1986 and 1996) to advance MiG-29 SMT standard.
The upgrade includes new Klimov RD-33 engines, avionics and radars. The initial batch of six MiG-29s were upgraded in Russia as part of a $964m contract. The remaining MiG-29s were planned to be overhauled in India using Russian components.
Russian Aircraft Corporation (RSK-MiG) selected Thales in April 2010 to upgrade the MiG-29 fighter deployed by the Indian Air Force as part of a $900m retrofit project. The contract included upgrade of the MiG-29 fighter with IFF1 combined interrogator transponder (CIT) and cryptographic national secure mode (NSM).
In October 2009, the Malaysian Government announced its decision to phase out its MiG-29N interceptor jets over the next few years. The phase-out programme was aimed to provide an annual saving of MYR260m ($76m), which is used to maintain other fighter jets.
In January 2011, Moldova announced its decision to auction six of its MiG-29A Fulcrum fighters at an initial price of $8.5m. The fighters needed repairs of $30m. Three auctions carried out in 2010 had failed.
In September 2011, the Poland Ministry of Defence placed a $42.6m contract with Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze nr 2 to upgrade its 16 MiG-29s (13 MiG-39A single-seaters and three MiG-29UB-12 two-seaters) aircraft. The scope of work included overhauling avionics such as mission computer, 1553B data bus system and various GPS modules.
RSK MiG was awarded an $800,000 contract by Bulgarian Defence Ministry in September 2011 to carry out repairs and maintenance of 16 MiG-29 aircraft. Works were carried out at the Plovdiv military plant Georgi Benkovski in Bulgaria.
Weapons of the MiG-29
The MiG-29 fighter is equipped with seven external weapon hardpoints. The aircraft can carry: up to two R-27 air-to-air medium-range missiles; six R-73 and R-60 air-to-air short range missiles; four pods of S-5, S-8, S-24 unguided rockets; air bombs weighing up to 3,000kg and 30mm built-in aircraft gun with 150 rounds of ammunition.
The R-27 medium-range air-to-air missile is supplied by the Vympel State Engineering Design Bureau, based in Moscow. The R-27 is available in two configurations: the R-27R, which has a semi-active radar homing head and inertial navigation control with a radio link and the R-27T missile, which is fitted with an infrared homing head. The missile can intercept targets with a speed of up to 3,500km/h at altitudes from 0.02-27km, and the maximum vertical separation between the aircraft and the target is 10km.
The Vympel R-73 missile is an all-aspect, short-range air-to-air missile known by the Nato codename AA-11 Archer. The missile has cooled infrared homing and can intercept targets at altitudes between 0.02 and 20km, target g-load to 12g, and with target speeds to 2,500km/h.
The Vympel R-60 (Nato codename AA-8 Aphid) short-range air-to-air missile can engage targets manoeuvring at an acceleration up to 12g. The R-60M has an expanded range of target designation angles to ±20°, a heavier warhead and an upgraded infrared homing head with photodetector cooling.
The aircraft is equipped with an information and fire control radar system comprising: an N-019 radar developed by Phazotron Research and Production Company, Moscow; an infrared search and track sensor; a laser rangefinder and a helmet-mounted target designator.
For longer-range air combat, the MiG-29 uses radar guidance for the R-27 missile.
Thales TopSight-E helmet-mounted sight and display (HMDS) is fitted to the Indian Navy aircraft. Integration phase of the upgrade encompassing ejection seats, weapon delivery and navigation system was completed in November 2009. Thales also supplied TOTEM 3000 inertial navigation and GPS.
The MiG-29 is equipped with two RD-33 turbofan engines.
The MiG-29 is the world’s first aircraft fitted with dual-mode air intakes. During flight, the open air intakes feed air to the engines.
While moving on the ground, the air intakes are closed and air is fed through the louvres on the upper surface of the wing root to prevent ingestion of foreign objects from the runway. This is particularly important when operating from poorly prepared airfields.
The engines provide a maximum speed of 2,400km/h at altitude and 1,500km/h near the ground and the service ceiling is 18,000m. The maximum range at altitude is 1,500km and 700km near the ground. RD-33 engines for Indian Air Force MiG-29 aircraft are to be license-built in India, under an agreement signed in January 2007.
Performance of the MiG-29 Fulcrum
The MiG-29 can climb at the rate of 330m/s. The maximum and cruise speed of the aircraft are 2,400km/h and 1500km/h, respectively. The ferry range is 2,100km. Its range and service ceiling are 1,430km and 18,000m respectively.
The aircraft weighs around 11,000kg and its maximum take-off weight is 18,000kg.