Let’s Explore Russian MiG-35 A Companion To The MiG-29

The Russian MiG-35, a testament to innovation and superiority, represents the pinnacle of modern fighter aircraft design, so Let’s Explore Russian MiG-35 A Companion To The MiG-29, developed to deliver unparalleled performance and precision. From its advanced avionics systems to its cutting-edge weaponry, the Russian MiG-35 is truly a marvel of engineering. Its lightning-fast speeds and exceptional manoeuvrability make it a formidable opponent in the skies.

With state-of-the-art sensors and advanced communication systems, the MiG-35 is always one step ahead of the competition. However, it’s not just the technology that makes the MiG-35 stand out, it’s the skill and expertise of the pilots who fly it, making it one of the most respected and coveted aircraft in the world.

The Mikoyan MiG-35, also known as the Fulcrum-F by NATO, is a Russian multi-role fighter designed to dominate the skies. This 4++ generation jet fighter is a marvel of engineering, developed by Mikoyan, a division of the United Aircraft Corporation ( UAC ). Its upgraded variant of the MiG-29KR is a true testament to the ingenuity and expertise of its creators. With its official international presentation during the 2017 Moscow Air Show, the MiG-35 made a bold statement that it is a force to be reckoned with. The first two serial production aircraft entered service in 2019, and since then, this single-seat version designated MiG-35S and the two-seat version MiG-35UB have been making waves in the aviation world.

Photo Credit: UAC MiG / Let's Explore Russian MiG-35 A Companion To The MiG-29
Photo Credit: UAC MiG / Let’s Explore Russian MiG-35 A Companion To The MiG-29

The fighter’s vastly improved avionics and weapon systems compared to early variants of the MiG-29, coupled with new precision-guided targeting capability and the uniquely designed optical locator system, make it one of the most advanced and versatile aircraft in the world. This system not only enhances the fighter’s combat capabilities but also relieves the aircraft from relying on ground-controlled interception systems, enabling it to conduct independent multirole missions. The Mikoyan MiG-35 is a true game-changer that combines technology, power, and expertise, making it one of the most respected and coveted aircraft in the world.

The Design Analysis Of The MiG-35

The MiG-35 and MiG-35D represent a culmination of advancements derived from the MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 fighters, resulting in notable enhancements in combat efficiency, versatility, and overall operational characteristics. Among the key attributes of this new design are its cutting-edge fifth-generation information-sighting systems, seamless compatibility with both Russian and foreign weapon systems, and a comprehensive array of integrated defensive mechanisms, all geared towards significantly bolstering combat survivability. The comprehensive redesign surpasses the baseline model’s concepts, empowering the new aircraft to undertake full-scale multirole missions, putting them on par with their Western counterparts in terms of capability and performance.

The MiG-35/MiG-35D incorporates advanced avionics systems that are intended to enhance its combat efficiency, improve its operational characteristics, and make it a formidable opponent in the air. The fifth-generation information-sighting systems enable the MiG-35 to gain air superiority, perform all-weather precision ground strikes, conduct aerial reconnaissance with optoelectronics and radar equipment, and carry out complex joint missions.

The MiG-35 is equipped with RD-33MK engines and an advanced optical locator system, OLS-35, allowing it to perform independent multirole missions. It boasts 9 weapon stations like the MiG-29M2, a 50% extended flight range, reduced radar visibility, and an open configuration for enhanced customization using the MIL-STD-1553 bus. Remarkably, the MiG-35 can handle an impressive maximum payload of 6.5 tons, showcasing its outstanding capabilities.

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Additionally, from a spectator’s point of view, if one wants to differentiate quickly between the two aircraft, the easiest thing to do is to look at the horizontal tails. The MiG-35’s horizontal tails are broader than those of the MiG-29, which are slimmer in comparison.

Open-source illustrative image
Open-source illustrative image

Development Of The MiG-35 Multirole Fighter

The development of the MiG-35 began in the 1990s, with the aim of creating an advanced multirole fighter that could compete with the latest Western fighter jets. The initial design was based on the MiG-29M2, which was developed in the late 1980s, but it was significantly modified to incorporate modern avionics, weapons systems, and other advanced technologies.

The first prototype of the MiG-35 was unveiled in January 2007, and it made its maiden flight in February of the same year. The aircraft was extensively tested over the next few years, and several improvements were made to its design based on the test results. The MiG-35 has been marketed to several countries, including India, Egypt, and Peru.

On the 26th of January 2017, Mikoyan unveiled the impressive capabilities of the new MiG-35 to the Russian Government. The event was widely publicized and attracted a lot of attention. A subsequent demonstration was also carried out for potential export customers, the very next day. The MiG-35 boasts significant upgrades that make it a true powerhouse in the world of fighter aircraft. These upgrades include a brand-new fly-by-wire flight control system, a vastly improved cockpit, and substantially upgraded avionics. The aircraft also comes equipped with an integrated precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons, making it a formidable force in the sky.

Photo Credit: UAC MiG
Photo Credit: UAC MiG

A non-removable NPK-SPP OLS-K electro-optical targeting and surveillance system pod is also installed on the MiG-35. It is directly mounted to the aircraft beneath the right (starboard) fuselage on the engine nacelle in front of the elevators. This design concept distinguishes the MiG-35 from preceding Russian combat aircraft by enhancing operational autonomy.

During the MAKS 2017 International Aviation and Space Salon, the Russian Defense Ministry decided to procure 24 MiG-35s as part of their new state armament program (2018-2027). Six of these MiG-35s will replace the ageing MiG-29s used by the Russian Swift’s aerobatic team. The announcement generated immense excitement, given the MiG-35’s reputation as one of the world’s most advanced fighter jets. Subsequently, on August 22, 2018, during the International Military-Technical Forum ARMY-2018, the first contract for six MiG-35s was signed, further demonstrating Russia’s commitment to utilizing cutting-edge military technology.

The Russian Aerospace Forces have also announced plans to sign a second contract for the delivery of 14 MiG-35s in 2020. This signifies their confidence in the aircraft’s capabilities and its potential to serve as a powerful asset for the country’s defence. It is worth noting that on the 17th of June 2019, the Russian Aerospace Forces received the first two serially produced MiG-35s, which marked the official introduction of this advanced variant into service. This is a significant milestone for the development team behind the MiG-35, as they continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with fighter jet technology.

Improved Engines Of The MiG-35 Multirole Fighter

The MiG-35 is equipped with two FADEC RD-33MK Morskaya Osa turbofans, serving as the aircraft’s power source. Derived from the Klimov RD-33 turbofan, the RD-33MK represents the latest and significantly enhanced variant, initially developed for the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB. Notably, the RD-33MK boasts a notable 7% increase in power compared to the baseline model, providing a higher thrust of 9,000 kg. Addressing previous concerns, the new engines are smokeless and incorporate specialized systems to minimize both infrared and optical visibility.

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However, according to episode 160 of the Russian military documentary film “Combat Approved”, the plans for a thrust vectoring variant of the MiG-35 were cancelled due to the increased weight ratio and the need to reduce costs. Originally, the thrust vectoring MiG-35 variant was planned to include thrust vectoring nozzles that could direct thrust on two different axes. Nonetheless, Rosoboronexport stated that “at the customer’s request, the engine may be equipped with a thrust vectoring nozzle.”

Photo Credit: UAC MiG
Photo Credit: UAC MiG

Improved Armament Of The MiG-35 Multirole Fighter

The MiG-35 stands as an exceptionally versatile multirole fighter, well-equipped to carry an extensive array of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry. It boasts the capacity to accommodate up to six external stores via its underwing pylons, complemented by an internal weapons bay to accommodate additional munitions. A notable component of its armament is the 30mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon, strategically mounted in the starboard wing root.

The aircraft can also carry a variety of missiles, such as the R-27 air-to-air missile, R-73 air-to-air missile, and Kh-29L/T air-to-ground missile. Additionally, the MiG-35 can carry precision-guided munitions, such as the KAB-500S-E, the Kh-38ME and Kh-38 Grom-E1 guided missiles. The aircraft is also equipped with a sophisticated avionics suite, including a helmet-mounted target designation system, which allows the pilot to aim and fire missiles simply by looking at the target.

The MiG-35 may eventually employ some sort of laser weaponry, according to UAC President Yuri Slyusar, who made the announcement during a conference call with Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2017. Following the aircraft’s flight testing, the laser’s military trials will start. Slyusar’s use of the term “laser weaponry” rather than “laser-guided weapon” may have been an error, nevertheless. A long-range strike capability that the MiG-29 lacks will be provided by the MiG-35 thanks to its projected ability to deploy the Kh-38 Grom-1 cruise missile.

Advanced, State-Of-The-Art Cockpit Design

The MiG-35 boasts a state-of-the-art glass cockpit with a range of advanced systems and components. The cockpit is equipped with night-vision goggles, an additional display for the optical locator system, and a 3-equal-size colour LCD multi-function display. In the MiG-35D, which has a tandem cockpit, the rear cockpit is fitted with four LCD displays. In the single-seat versions, the rear cockpit is used to store extra fuel while retaining a two-seat canopy.

The cockpit’s advanced LCD display provides the pilot with a clear and easily readable format of critical information such as flight parameters, navigation data, and weapons system status. The modern head-up display ( HUD ) projects essential flight information onto the windshield, allowing the pilot to maintain situational awareness while keeping their eyes focused outside the cockpit.

The integrated targeting system includes a laser rangefinder and designator, as well as an electro-optical targeting pod, providing the pilot with precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons. Additionally, the cockpit features a fly-by-wire flight control system that greatly improves handling and control responsiveness. These advanced systems and components provide the pilot with the necessary tools to perform a range of complex missions with ease and precision.

Photo Credit: UAC MiG
Photo Credit: UAC MiG
Advanced Avionics

The avionics of the MiG-35 are designed to provide the pilot with advanced situational awareness and combat capabilities. The aircraft is equipped with a modern suite of sensors and systems, including a digital fly-by-wire flight control system, an advanced multi-mode radar, and a comprehensive suite of electronic warfare and countermeasures systems, which is much better than previous MiG-29s.

The radar system of the MiG-35 is the Phazotron Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array ( AESA ) radar, which provides the pilot with enhanced detection and tracking capabilities for air and ground targets. The radar can simultaneously track up to 30 airborne targets and engage up to 6 of them with guided weapons.

The electronic warfare suite includes the L-175V/Khibiny-M electronic countermeasure ( ECM ) system, which can be used to jam or deceive enemy radar and communications systems, as well as a towed decoy system to lure and distract incoming missiles. The aircraft also has a comprehensive self-protection suite, which includes chaff and flare dispensers to counter incoming heat-seeking missiles.

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In its entirety, the avionics system of the MiG-35 offers the pilot an exceptional level of situational awareness and combat capabilities, rendering it a formidable and highly effective platform for conducting both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations.

Photo Credit: UAC MiG
Photo Credit: UAC MiG

The MiG-35 Technical Specifications

  • Crew:  1 or 2 ( depends on aircraft type )
  • Length:  56 ft 9 in ( 17.3 m )
  • Wingspan:  39 ft 4 in ( 12 m )
  • Height:  15 ft 5 in ( 4.7 m )
  • Empty Weight:  11,000 kg ( 24,251 lb )
  • Max Takeoff Weight:  24,500 kg ( 54,013 lb )
  • Payload:  6,500 kg ( 14,330 lb )
  • Powerplant:  2 × Klimov RD-33MK afterburning turbofan engines, 52 kN ( 12,000 lb ) thrust each dry, 88.2 kN ( 19,800 lb ) with afterburner / Mach 2.25
  • Max Speed:  2,100 km/h ( 1,300 mph ) at land-based altitude and 1,400 km/h ( 870 mph ) at sea-based altitude / Mach 1.14
  • Cruise speed: 804.7 km/h ( 500.0 mph )
  • Combat range: 1,000 km ( 620 mi )
  • Ferry range:  3,000 km ( 1,900 mi )
  • Service ceiling: 16,000 m ( 52,000 ft )
  • Rate Of Climb: 330 m/s ( 64,960 ft/min )
  • Armament:  1 x 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon with 100 rounds, And different combinations of guided Missiles on its total 9 hardpoints with a capacity of up to 6,500 kg ( 14,330 lb ),  with provisions to carry  _ R-73, R-77 AAM / Kh-29, Kh-38 ASM / Kh-31 Anti-ship missile and KAB-500 guided bombs.

In conclusion, the MiG-35 represents an exceptionally advanced and adaptable multirole fighter aircraft, precisely tailored to meet the demands of modern air combat scenarios. It boasts cutting-edge avionics, weapons systems, and engines, empowering it to excel in diverse missions such as air superiority, ground attack, and reconnaissance. The aircraft’s state-of-the-art cockpit design and advanced sensors contribute to comprehensive situational awareness, enabling pilots to engage targets with remarkable precision and effectiveness. Given its remarkable features and capabilities, the MiG-35 is poised to be a prominent player in the global defence industry and is likely to remain a preferred choice for air forces worldwide.

Photo Credit: UAC MiG
Photo Credit: UAC MiG

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