Thanks to its diverse combat capabilities and high mobility, accompanied by valuable upgrades over time, the MiG-29 has been one of the most popular fighters in the world over the past 40 years.

According to 1945, the skirmishes in the sky over Ukraine are witnessing the performance of MiG-29 fighters from both sides. Although it cannot rival modern stealth fighters, nor is it the best fighter of its generation, the Ukrainian Air Force is still lobbying its allies to supply Kiev with more MiG-29 fighters.

Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan Design Bureau, the MiG-29 had its first flight test in 1977, before entering service in 1982. The MiG-29’s production purpose is believed to be to counterbalance the US F-16 Falcon fighter.

As a 4th generation fighter, the MiG-29 has many shortcomings compared to the current fighters. The first problem is the limited fuel capacity and the inability to refuel in the air. In addition, the maximum range of the MiG-29 is also not up to the standard to perform the mission of attacking high-value aerial assets. In addition, the fighter’s radar system is not really stable in detecting, tracking and locking targets, leading to the risk of mistakenly shooting friendly aircraft.

However, the MiG-29 with its distinctive fuselage design is surprisingly maneuverable, thanks to the combination of advanced aerodynamics with a traditional mechanical control system. With an instantaneous rotational speed of 28° per second, the MiG-29 can flexibly move vertically and horizontally, or perform other complex maneuvers with ease.

Another advantage that makes the MiG-29 so popular is its relatively low operating and maintenance costs compared to rivals like the F-16. In addition, this fighter can take off even from bad runways thanks to the air intakes that prevent foreign objects from being thrown into the engine.

What keeps a fighter jet as fraught with problems as the MiG-29 still in common use over the past four decades is its invaluable upgrade. The current version in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces today is the MiG-29SMT, which has overcome most of the weaknesses of its predecessor.

MiG-29SMT has a length of 17.3m, a wingspan of 11.9m, a maximum speed of Mach 2, a ceiling of 17,500m. Compared to the original version, the weapon payload has increased from 3.5 tons to 4.5 tons with 7 weapon hard points. In order to improve the weakness of the warning system, the Zhuk ME radar has been put on the new generation fighters, allowing the MiG-29SMT to detect targets from a distance of 120km, lock 10 targets simultaneously and choose to destroy 4 targets at the same time.

In particular, the upgrade of the avionics system allows the MiG-29SMT to carry medium-range air-to-air missiles with active radar guidance R-77, Kh-29T/TE air-to-surface missiles, Kh-31A supersonic anti-ship missiles, Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, and other types smart bomb.

Of course, modernized versions of the MiG-29 still cannot surpass fighters like the Su-35, but the fighter will still be useful in the near future. With Ukraine continuously lobbying its allies to transfer to Kiev the MiG-29s to close the weapons gap with Moscow, the popularity of this fighter will increase in the near future.

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