India's market is always hot and attractive. As per foreigners the always available chaotic situation in India where people are more interested to gain self glory instead of community’s interest, can be manipulated easily. Everyone is making aggressive efforts to grab the big pie and demanding high costs. India actually have a requirement of nearly 200 medium class and nearly 100 light class fighters. After the cancellation of MMRCA competition discussions were slow, projects are slow, establishment of specific requirements are slow and decision making is slow the only thing running fast is time.
India has not shown any interest in MiG-35 officially and after it's knock out from MMRCA competition anyone amongst officials rarely talked about it. All the claims of India interested in MiG-35 originate from Russian media.
MiG-35 is Russia's most advanced 4++ generation multipurpose fighter jet developed on the basis of the serial-produced MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft. Asked if India has expressed any interest in the MiG-35, Mr Tarasenko said, "Of course they have." He further added that the MiG-35 was "the best" and definitely better than Lockheed Martin's fifth-generation combat aircraft F-35. He claimed that the MiG-35 would beat the American jet in air to air combat.
Now MiGs have been used by India for almost 50 years and Mig-35 is probably the last bet to rejunevate the Mikoyan Corporation by selling jets to India. Russia is keen on selling its new fighter jet MiG-35 to India with the MiG corporation's chief saying the country has evinced interest in the aircraft and talks were on to understand its requirements.
So let's we also talk from the point of view of Defence Enthusiasts and take a keen look on weather we should have it or not have it one by one analysing the pros and cons. And make a clear view at the end.
Should we purchase MiG-35 ??
The MiG-35/MiG-35D exhibits advancements on MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 fighters in combat efficiency enhancement, universality and operational characteristics improvement. The most important changes are the Phazotron Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the RD-33MK engines and the newly designed Optical Locator System, OLS-35. The final configuration of the MiG-35's on-board equipment has been left open intentionally using theMIL-STD-1553 bus. The main advantage of an open architecture configuration for its avionics is that future customers will have options to choose from components and systems made by French, Israeli, Russian and United States companies. That means India can customize Mig-35 as per its requirements just like SU-30 MKI.
On EW and EO front
> The new AESA radar Phazotron Zhuk AE / FGA-35 and the uniquely designed optical locator system (OLS) make the aircraft less dependent on ground-controlled interception (GCI) systems and enable the MiG-35 to conduct independent multi-role missions. The radar is thought to have detection range of 160 km (86 nmi) for air targets and 300 km (160 nmi) for ships. An another radar Zhuk AM/AME which is a further evolution of FGA-35 can track up to 30 targets and can simultaneously attack up to six aerial targets and has detection range up to 260 km and detection and tracking up to 160 km. The source added that the new radar weighs about 100 kg. It was also marketed for HAL LCA.
> Like radar, OLS allows the MiG-35 to detect targets and aim weapon systems. But, unlike radar, OLS has no emissions, meaning it cannot be detected. The MiG -35 will also incorporate a powerful electronic warfare suite—an area where the Russians excel. OLS includes a complex of powerful optics with IR vision that makes it impossible for any plane to hide. Similar IRST systems have claimed to detect even F-22 Raptor at around 50km ranges. OLS solves the problem of blurred vision. At speed, each piece of dust can cause harm to the glass of the OLS. The new OLS uses leuco-sapphire, the next-hardest material after artificial diamonds, making the lifetime for such glass much longer.
> Along with this their are many EO systems like the integrated OLS-K, SOLO station detection laser irradiation, T-220 targeting pod are also evolutionary advancements over the respective class of their operation. The EW systems on MiG-35 like MSP-418K Kedr (cedar)active jamming pod. And a built in radar warner jammer from Elettronica has proven their worth in tests.
On Engine front
> The new RD-33MK "Morskaya Osa" engine is latest version of the RD-33 and was intended to power the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB. It has 7% more power compared to the baseline model due to the use of modern materials in the cooled blades, providing a higher thrust of 9,000 Kgf. In response to earlier criticism, the new engines are smokeless and include systems that reduce infrared and optical visibility. The engines may be fitted with vectored-thrust nozzles, which would result an increase in combat efficiency by 12% to 15%.
> RD-33OVT engine variant can be fitted with KliVT swivel-nozzles and a thrust vectoring control (TVC) system and can direct thrust in two directions or planes. The MiG-35's combination of TVC and advanced missile-warning sensors gives it the edge during combat. RD-33 engines are smokeless and include systems that reduce infrared and optical visibility.
Other general matters and Myths regarding MiG-35.
> Some defense analysts believe that the MIG 35 is an MIG 29 with a new name and have the similar engine problems as in the MIG 29 but let me inform you that the new RD 33 MK engines already fix the problems with the MIG 29 engines and the Indian government has already brought these new engines for the existing MIG 29 in India. And if the MIG 29 is such a useless platform that IAF dislikes, then why India is interested in buying Malaysian MIG 29N? The MIG 35 is 30% bigger than an MIG 29. Average Cost per flight hour is 2.5 times less than the MIG 29 and its weapon carrying capacity is double to that of the MIG 29.
> We already have the infrastructure for MIG 29s, and it can be easily adopted for the new MIG 35s. Apart from that, one must understand that the IAF is facing huge depletion in its fighter jet fleet and the requirements are huge. If we go for a costly fighter jet we cannot get the required numbers due to a limited budget as we saw with Rafale.
A large number of capabilities have been deliberately excluded from this article as it would have shifted the focus to a detailed one topic MiG-35 itself.
Should we reject MiG-35 ??
Many in the social media claiming that the MiG 35 is the better low cost option to ramp up the number of fighter jets in Indian Air force, without knowing the actual reason behind why IAF didn’t say any words about MiG 35. Many people even advocate by saying that having open architecture we can fit western avionics and as we can manufacture the spare parts the supplies won't be the problem. But let's get back to basics let's see why exactly MMRCA competition was started and why IAF chose Rafale over Typhoon ?
How many of the readers would know that, MiG 35 was forced out, without even tested by IAF in many conditions, This is recently declassified by the MiG CEO. This due to some reasons, one is during the evaluation trails two MiG 29’s crashed in Russia, which forced all MiG 29 grounded. Although the MiG-35 has been made on wide number of evolutions based on MiG-29 but ultimately it's the MiG-29 inside it-that is a problem. The problem not in the sense regarding capabilities but MiG-29 was originally designed as a medium class air superiority fighter with secondary air to ground roles. Whereas IAF’s primary requirement is that of a strike fighter.
The IAF’s intentions ARE clear, that they want their MMRCA to be more of a strike fighter and less of an air superiority type. This is due to the IAF’s serious discussion after the evolving ground threats and need of good close air support platform. The IAF is so happy with the usage of western fighter jets like Jaguar and Mirage 2000 and planned to keep those fighters upto 2030. those fighters are very good in precision bombing missions.
> Russia has a limited production of MiG-35 aircraft, and are currently only exported to Egypt. Also, in spite of its high maneuverability, the plane sacrifices in range and weight to attain agility. It boasts of some advanced avionics though they are not as advanced as modern western day fighters like F/A-18 Super Hornet or Saab Gripen-E. Mig-35 though edges F-16 Bk.70 is lacking in front of Saab Gripen-E.
> A troublesome history regarding MiG-29 has created a sense of negativeness amongst many Indians who won't really be happy getting what they always stupidly describe “ another Russian junk “. Mig-29A which was first acquired by India for India air force in mid 80’s suffered from low operational availablity for a long time due to the collapse of the Soviet union and also due several issues with Klimov RD-33MK after burning turbofans used on the jets. When Mig-29K Carrier variant was offered to Indian Navy with much more advanced avionics and weapons, it was expected that History will not repeat its self and India will get an aircraft which will be able to meet high standards required to fly from aircraft carriers , but recent CAG report again has exposed poor serviceability of the jets and frequent breakdowns of parts way before their service interval.
> The upgraded MiG-29 UPG also offers relatively similar capabilities of that of MiG-35 and would stay in service and would be replaced by HAL AMCA. The UPG’s radar warner jammer and an increased fuel capacity clearly makes it a potent force projection on the enemy. It's not like MiG-35 is bad or lacks the capability, it's just that we really don't need it as we already have most of it in sufficient quantity.
So as of now MiG-35 is not on IAF’s wish list no matter how much the propaganda press of Russia try to make false impressions and lame Indian press republishes their news for sensationalism purposes. IAF’s requirements are very specific and Dassault Rafale is the only choice - only until an F-35 like thingy isn't offered. Because F-35 is also a medium class strike fighter and is the best one.
Enjoy reading more about MiG-35 on our detalied article.
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