All of sudden, Mig-35s arerolling in Indian newspapers. It started with Director General of MiG Corporation, IlyaTarasenko's interaction with thepress during MAKS 2017 air show where he claimed that India has shown interest in Mig-35, which is 4++ generation aircraft capable of giving American F35 a run for its money.
He said: "We are in the negotiation stage where talks on technical and technological specifications that MiG can present to India and the requirements that India has for this aircraft were taking place."
Talking about the aircraft, he claimed that comparing with `basic` Mig-29, Mig-35 is a new aircraft with anew airframe, a new and more powerful engine (though it just gives 7% more power), fly-by-wire technology, new on-board equipment, weapons etc. Just about everything is `new`.
In anut shell, it is a `light`, low cost and a multi roll easy to handle fighter.
We need to see if all these claims are true and what choices IAF has?
Based on the proven and one of the best (and fearsome) fighters in its category - Mig 29, Mikoyan bureau started developing Mig-35 in the early 2000s and revealed it to thepublic in 2007. That's why it looks just like Mig-29.
Mig-35 is not a new aircraft but a slightly upgraded Mig-29. By developing Mig-35, Russian aircraft industry did what it is best at providing a low cost, evolutionary improvements to an already proven design.
Mig-35 does not offer much in comparison to Mig-29 UPG that IAF is using. It has few clear improvements like smokeless RD-33MKB engines, which gives about 7 per cent more thrust but does not generate smoke. It appears that Russians have finally fixed that annoying problem of smoke that would give away fighters location within visual range. Mig-35 has remarkable manoeuvrability, even better than Mig-29. Thanks to its thrust vectoring nozzles.
At a better price, Mig 35 will be fitted with Zhuk-MA AESA radar which has a definite edge over MESA radars. Indian Mig-29 UBG haveZhuk-ME radar.
Mig-35 has a simple state-of-the-art cockpit fitted with three LCD screens, that makes its pilot's job much easier. There are few more marginal improvements that give nothing substantial to the IAF.
Why should IAF go for Mig-35 if Mig-29 UBG can be upgraded with both these noticeable improvements?
IAF is already in the process of consolidating the types of aircraft it operates. Adding Mig-35 to IAFs inventory will definitely increase its maintenance burden. So would adding Lockheed F-16 or SAAB Gripen. Moreover, Mig-35 is not a light single engine fighter that India is looking for. Perhaps that is why IlyaTarasenko deliberately mentioned Mig 35 as a `light` aircraft. His claim that India has shown interest appears to be a marketing trick.
So far, only Egypt has placed an order for 50 Mig-35s and Mikoyan desperately needs orders to keep the production lines and the company alive.
Mikoyan has produced legendary aircrafts like Mig-21, Mig-25 and Mig-29 that have reserved their place in history forever.
But during the last 20 years, Sukhoi Design Beuroe left Mikoyan behind in this ever going race of technological advancement. With Su-27, Sukhoi took the development to the next level.In Picture: A man gestures next to a multipurpose jet fighter MiG-35 on the tarmac during its presentation at the MiG plant in Lukhovitsy on January 27, 2017. AFP photo