Despite its strong advertising, no country has ever bought MiG-35. MiG’s profits still had to rely on the MiG-29 fighter line developed from the Soviet era.
According to Russian sources, after the end of the MAKS-2019 exhibition in Moscow, Algeria signed a contract to buy 14-16 MiG-29M/M2 fighters, developed by the Mikoyan Aircraft Corporation.
The good news with MiG’s gloomy sales for many years compared to Sukhoi, perhaps the MiG’s leaders may not be too happy because with this contract, it looks like the future of MiG-35 – the product that they promoted at MAKS-2019 once again failed to find real customers. Instead, customers in need of MiG aircraft seemed to only believe in the MiG-29 line, developed under the Soviet Union.
Compared to the MiG-35, the MiG-29 has been proven for a very long time. Before Algeria, Egypt had bought 46 MiG-29M/M2 although they were quite interested in MiG-35.
MiG-29, NATO designation Fulcrum, is a popular fighter line used by the air force of more than 30 countries around the world. The MiG-29 was the first Soviet 4th generation jet fighter design developed in the 1970s to counter US rivals including the US F-15 and F-16.
Although originally designed as an air superiority fighter, many MiG-29s have been furnished as multirole fighters capable of performing a number of different operations, and are commonly outfitted to use a range of air-to-surface armaments and precision munitions.
The first MiG-29 took off in 1977, five years later, in 1982 was officially put into operation. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the militaries of several former Soviet republics continued to operate the MiG-29. For a time, this was the main fighter of the Russian Air Force. Mig-29 has undergone multiple upgrades with various variants, and it is still under production. A total of more than 1,600 aircrafts were produced.
The Mig-29 has a sleek and deadly appearance in contrast to previous Soviet fighters. It has a length of 17.32m (56 ft 10 in), a wingspan of 11.36m (37 ft 3 in), a height of 4.73m (15 ft 6 in), an empty weight of 11 tons (24,251 lb), a maximum take-off weight of 18 tons (39,683 lb).
The well-designed two-seat cockpit provides great visibility for the pilots. The MiG-29 does have substantially better visibility than most previous Russian jet fighters, thanks to a high-mounted bubble canopy. The cockpit features a conventional centre stick and left hand throttle controls. The pilot sits in a Zvezda K-36DM ejection seat which has had impressive performance in emergency escapes.
The large rectangular air intakes, slightly indented on their upper edges are mounted under the fuselage. The engine is placed low in the fuselage with high mounted wings. There is a pair of vertical tail fins on the outside of each engine mount. Two horizontal tailplanes are arranged beyond the jet exhaust rings.
It is easy to see that the MiG-29 has many aerodynamic similarities with the Sukhoi Su-27, however, there are some notable differences. The MiG-29 has a mid-mounted swept wing with blended leading-edge root extensions swept at around 40°; the tailplanes also are swept. On the trailing edge, there are maneuvering flaps and wingtip ailerons.
The MiG-29 has hydraulic controls and a SAU-451 three-axis autopilot but, unlike the Su-27, no fly-by-wire control system. Nonetheless, it is very agile, with excellent instantaneous and sustained turn performance, high-alpha capability, and a general resistance to spins. The airframe consists primarily of aluminum with some composite materials, and is stressed for up to 9G maneuvers. The undercarriage was fully-retractable and of the tricycle arrangement with a pair of single-wheeled main landing gear legs and a double-wheeled nose landing gear.
Mikoyan equipped the Mig-29 with two Klimov RD-33 afterburning turbofan engines, producing 81.59 kN each (18,340 lbf) with afterburner. It gives Mig-29 a great performance. The fighter can reach a maximum speed of 2,400 km/h (1,500 mph) equivalent to Mach 2.25. The range of the Mig-29 is up to 1,430 km (890 mi) with internal fuel. The ferry range is up to 2,100 km (1,300 mi) with a drop fuel tank, the service ceiling is 18,000 m (59,000 ft), the climbing rate is 330 m/s (65,000 ft/min). In addition, a newer models have been fitted with port-side inflight refueling probes, allowing much longer flight times.
Regarding weapons, the Mig-29 is equipped with a single GSh-30-1 30 mm cannon in the port wing root. It was initially equipped with 150-round magazine, then reduced to 100 in later variants. Three pylons are provided under each wing, for a total of six. The inboard pylons can carry either a 1,150 liter fuel tank, one Vympel R-27 medium-range air-to-air missile, or unguided bombs or rockets.
Some Soviet aircraft could carry a single nuclear bomb on the port inboard station. The outer pylons usually carry R-73 dogfight air to air missiles, although some users still retain the older R-60. A single 1,500-litre tank can be fitted to the centerline, between the engines.
As a famous fighter line developed during the Soviet era, the Mig-29 was highly appreciated by Russian and Western military experts, especially in its excellent maneuverability, great advantages in the dogfights.
The bad luck of MiG-29
However, the MiG-29 encountered a lot of bad luck when it failed in the 1991 Gulf War. Five Iraqi MiG-29s were shot down by the US F-15. Not because of the poor qualifications of the Iraqi pilots, or the poor technical capabilities of the MiG-29, the main reason was because the Air Force of the Union was too strong. The US-led Union owns many modern fighters, in addition to the support of early warning aircrafts and electronic-warfare aircrafts. The activities of the Iraqi Air Force were monitored and easily controlled. The MiG-29, despite being a powerful fighting vehicle, was defeated.
The Soviet Union collapsed, the Russian arms industry was in danger of closing or going bankrupt, and MiG was no exception. They were forced to struggle to escape the crisis. One of the right directions is to introduce the MiG-29 at international exhibitions.
On July 24, 1993, at the RIAT Airshow Exhibition in Fairford, Gloucestershire, UK, the MiG Group made a fantastic appearance through the superb performance of 2 MiG-29 fighters. However, two pilots made a serious mistake, causing two MiG-29s worth about 50 million dollars to crash into each other, burning in midair. They parachuted out safely and fortunately the planes did not hit the crowd on the ground.
Interestingly, the United States also owns the Mig-29. In 1997, the United States purchased 21 Moldovan MiG-29 aircraft under the Nunn–Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. Some of these MiG-29s are currently on open display at Nellis AFB, Nevada; NAS Fallon, Nevada; Goodfellow AFB, Texas; and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
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