MiG-29: A Look into the Future

The Russian aircraft designers have ten years to create a platform promising aircraft, Air Force and domestic demand, and in the foreign market

Although the first flight of the prototype of the MiG-29 took place back in 1977, aviation systems based on this platform still remain highly competitive. It is promoted as the originality of the overall situation in the market where all the remaining proposals in the light and middle class have significant price, technological and political constraints, and the continuing efforts of engineers and designers RAC "MiG" is to increase the capacity of this family of fighters.

The life cycle of the fourth-generation fighter unusually protracted. Earlier generations were replaced every ten to fifteen years (except for a special occasion with the F-22), but the mass transition to the fifth generation begins only now — after more than 35 years after the first flights of the previous generation of prototypes. It is not the fact that the F-35 will displace older machines: too high was the cost of this "cheap" fighter, it is too expensive to operate. Opportunities recent American cars still are not clear to some obviously redundant or for other Air Force. Meanwhile, the fourth-generation aircraft show a striking market vitality. For example, while U.S. production of fifth generation fighter F-22 discontinued, the latest "stelsizirovannaya" Silent Eagle version of its predecessor, the F-15 to replace them, in fact, created Raptor, is still considered some of the Air Force as a possible future procurement. Although the proposal of the fifth generation already have an obvious impact on the market, sales of the fourth generation of machines will continue, if not dominate, another ten or fifteen years, as financially and technologically they are more affordable for the vast majority of countries.
 But even among the fourth-generation fighter MiG-29 is relatively easy machine to allocate additional pricing and political advantages. This is not only one of the most affordable of all those present in the market of modern combat aircraft have been delivered and are even lower in comparison with the sales of heavy fighters powerful political sensitivity. This factor is of particular importance when it comes to contracts with states or regimes, whose relations with the Western mentors of all mankind is not quite good. MiG working on numerous pricing, political and technological constraints faced by competitors.

The arms market is affected by many different factors, but roughly, making it easier and vulgarise, they can be grouped into three large groups: politics, cost and technology.

From the point of view of political conditions and the cost of the most dangerous competitors MiG-29 could be a Chinese fighter FC-1 and F-10. The Chinese have enormous potential economic incentives for its defense exports — from dumping sverhlgotnyh before granting loans or offers comprehensive programs of cooperation, the substance of which is the construction of infrastructure and the development of the primary sector and the supply of arms — a pleasant, but not the most important addition. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China can offer, and political support that need, above all, the states are prone to acquiring just the Russian equipment. In general, almost any Russian client, with the exception of India and Vietnam, may be considered acceptable or even desirable purchases in China. Venezuela and Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Iran and Syria — all these countries at different times showed or could be interested in the Chinese aircraft. In general, China is working in the same markets as Russia, but it may offer more attractive financial terms of transactions. And after Russia joined the sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran has not prevented the European neo-colonialists and the Arabian obscurants tear and plunder the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, China politically, perhaps, was even preferable to Russia. However, conditional fourth-generation fighter aircraft sold to China only in Pakistan. Besides there are many explanations, but one thing is clear: Russia is still able to block any potential sale of the FC-1 and F-10, as both fighters equipped with Russian engines. China is actively working on creating your own unique AL-31F/FN our motors and RD-93, but judging by the fact that in the past two years, buying Russian engines are not only not diminished, but have become more widespread, the results of these studies leave much to be desired.

Another potentially very dangerous rival MiG-29 — ultra-light Swedish fighter Gripen — combines high-tech and excellent price parameters. This is the cheapest to operate from the fourth-generation fighter, the hour of his flight is worth 4.7 million dollars compared to the 17-18 thousand in Typhoon and Rafale and the extremely high 31 thousand of the F-35. The aircraft is optimized for service conscripts in the field. At that Gripen is the first European fighter, which implements the concept of network-centric operations and the first aircraft is complex, able to apply the latest European-horizon missile Meteor. In general, it is the ideal machine for countries with a small area and modest resources not only for the purchase, but also use of modern fighters. The downside of this masterpiece of Swedish engineering was the presence in the structure of the aircraft critical element of foreign production, primarily American engine as well as an extremely strict Swedish export laws, closes the sale of the aircraft in a number of countries. Just as long as Russia can control the export sales of our motorized Chinese aircraft engines, the Americans can always block contracts for Gripen. There are credible reports that the Air Force at least two countries, namely Poland and Jordan would have preferred at the time to buy a small Swedish aircraft, but under pressure from the United States were forced to choose a non-optimal from the point of view of the needs of the Air Force of the American F- 16. Hard Swedish export control system in which the impact is large including legislators, hampers delivery of combat systems in the country with non-ideal from the point of view of Western standards of political systems. It is known, for example, that an active interest in Gripen showed Colonel Gaddafi, but the Swedes refused even to enter into negotiations with the Libyans. As a result, until now, only four foreign Gripen customer, and two of them — the Czech Republic and Hungary — have not bought planes and rented. Now the future of the machine depends entirely on the outcome of their purchases of Swiss Air Force, who are ready to order 22 units and fund the creation of a new version of the Gripen NG. However, this decision must be approved by a referendum. If the Swiss vote against, in fact it will mean the end of the heroic history of the brilliant Swedish aviation.

Direct European counterparts MiG-29 by weight and size — twin-engine fighter Rafale and Typhoon — as a platform for polpokoleniya Mikoyan more modern machinery and passed the test of battle (against defenseless Libyans and even more defenseless Islamists in Mali). However, as the combat systems they do not have radical advantages over contemporary and future members of the family of the MiG-29. Moreover, in some areas OKB even ahead of the Europeans. To date, only the MiG-35 demonstrator produced missile launches by pointing the radar with an active phased array, not a single European fighter that ability does not yet possess. Fantastic price of these, of course, serious and expensive machinery operation severely limit their ability to export. Record for the cost of fourth-generation fighter Typhoon is sold
only in Austria, where, in this regard the corruption scandal broke out, and in Saudi Arabia, the ruling dynasty which had usurped after the First World War, power in the area only by the British, with whom, and is since then symbiotic relationship. Rafale, the Americans lost tenders in South Korea and Singapore, have repeatedly been literally on the verge of success in foreign markets. But each time the transaction being ripped off. Neither Brazil nor UAE or Qatar or Oman has not yet bought a French car. Dassault is a finalist for the Indian megatendera MMRCA, but in this case, the contract has not been concluded, and the prospects of signing obvious. In general, European cars are positioned in a higher price category. It seems that even the used ones Eurofi ghter of the first tranche, which offers the opportunity to purchase in the economic crisis begins to be discussed in Britain, would lose much of MiG-29 in price and quality requirements attendants.

Paradoxically, a serious competition to the Russian MiG-29 can reach … MiG-29. Of the Air Force cash fraternal, and at times and in places even allied countries of the CIS. In any case, contrary to what is often written, the main competitor at the conclusion of the extreme for today's export contract for a Russian MiG-29 (and this is a deal worth 410 million euros for the supply of 20 machines in Myanmar) was not China, and Belarus. In fact, in the summer of 2009, the Burmese have already agreed on everything with Minsk, and only emergency and has proved very effective intervention? ROE? and specialists in foreign trade RSK? MiG? to rectify the situation. The contract with Russia was signed in December of the same year. We also know that Azerbaijan gained Ukrainian MiG-29, the site of which could well be the Russian aircraft. By the way, Ukrainians, and most Americans are not actively intriguing against purchases of Russian weapons to Iraq, which is interested in the MiG-29. Every Iraqi dollar spent on Russian products, is a loss for Kiev. In November last year, Ukrainian agents managed to suspend the implementation of a package of agreements with Russia for the purchase of helicopters and air defense systems, but now contracts again oversubscribed. In principle, Russia has all the tools to influence Kiev and Minsk. But sometimes, as in the case of Myanmar, they work, and sometimes, as in the case of Azerbaijan, no.

We state: the market is no shortage of competitors MiG-29, but all of them are either in another price range, or face serious political and technological constraints in promoting exports. The most recent modification of the MiG-29 — MiG-29M/M2 and MiG-29UPG-especially promising MiG-35 are still very competitive.
The medium-term outlook, "korabelki"

In the long run the next 8-10 years, the main features of the company associated with a unique niche offering carrier-based MiG-29K and unrivaled in terms of cost / performance solution MiG29UPG modernization.

The primary impetus for the creation of naval MiG-29K in its present form was given to the beginning of the program for the construction of the Indian aircraft carrier Vikramaditya. In accordance with the contract signed January 20, 2004, the RCC? MiG? had to spend a considerable amount of research and development of new aircraft and put the Indian Navy 16 such machines. Development of a new carrier-based fighter — not a trivial task, in this particular case, complicated by the need to create from scratch polnotsiklichnoe production and build a new cooperation. This problem was solved, and in 2010 the company began the formal transfer of fighter aircraft to the customer, although the construction of the carrier — actually, the aircraft carrier — is behind schedule. The ratio of Indians to work carried out in the RSC is best reflected in the signing in 2010 of the second contract for the purchase of 29 more MiG-29K.

Thanks to the Indian request has been created and put into mass production a unique niche product. Today it is the world's only proposal based fighter horizontal take-off, which can be operated from aircraft carriers with a springboard. In the future, perhaps, will be more difficult Chinese J-15, which, however, is unlikely ever to be offered for export. The two other commercially available shipboard fighter — the American F-18E / F Super Hornet, French Rafale — need to take off costly, capricious and devouring a lot of volume and weight of the catapults. There is no doubt that the full-fledged aircraft carriers with catapults will include new aircraft carrier powers less widespread (if ever be built) than ships with a springboard.

Prospects for new orders on the MiG-29K associated with the development of the Russian Navy and the Indian Navy. The domestic fleet was ordered in February 2012, 20 MiG-29K and 4 MiG-29K-UX, having decided, therefore, to replace its carrier-type aircraft. As in the case of Russian orders for Project 11356 frigates and fighter Su-30cm, previous purchases of Indian Deterministic Russian military-technical policy, which in itself is an interesting phenomenon. There is no doubt that the Russian sailors will continue to follow the procurement and contracting for at least one more of the same party.

There may be new Indian contracts. Program development of the Indian aircraft carrier fleet involves the acquisition of Vikramaditya in addition to two more aircraft carriers of national construction. Forty-five contracted fighters on three ships with the need to have a reserve or replacement air wings is not enough. Additional demand will be at least another 20-25 aircraft. Moreover, the rapid development of China's aircraft carrier program in general can put in front of the Indian Navy aircraft carrier to expanding the base. Given the slow construction of aircraft carriers in the national shipyards best solution would be an order with another Russian carrier — sister ship Vikramaditya or its improved and upgraded version.

In addition to the purchase of a second aircraft carrier would be logical to order a second nuclear submarine in a couple of Chakra II submarine and the third tranche of the frigates Talwarclass. N. engineering enterprise and Neva Design Bureau in the implementation of the contract for Vikramaditya acquired the necessary competence, and their current financial status and production is much better than in the middle of the zero years. So that the construction of such a ship from scratch would require even less time and has less technical risk than the contract in 2004. It is clear that this decision will entail an increase in the order for the MiG-29K.

We summarize. As of the date Corporation "MiG" has partially fulfilled contracts for the production of a total of 69 shipborne fighters: 45 MiG-29K fighters for the Indian Navy and 24 cars for the Russian Navy. According to conservative estimates, the new orders will increase this number by 40-50 units, bringing the total number of carrier-based aircraft to 110-120. If we do not take into account inaccessible United States, in the long term only China has the potential to deploy a large-scale production of shipborne fighters.

In the atmosphere of an impending global economic slowdown, even relatively rapidly developing Asian countries have paid more attention to modernization. In the face of growing budget constraints modernization appears increasingly attractive alternative to purchasing new weapons. Not without the help of Indian partners Corporation "MiG" in time to catch the trend. By order of the Indian Air Force the company has developed a relatively inexpensive, yet highly effective option of upgrading the MiG-29 and MiG standard-29UPG. Airplanes get a new weapons system, built around a modern radar "Zhuk-ME", the new airborne weapons and new engines. Modernization provides the opportunity to extend the lifecycle of fighters for 15 years. Importantly, eliminated the most painfu
l shortcomings of the old versions of the MiG-29 — the lack of versatility, short range and high cost of operation. The new weapon control system makes this agile melee fighter in a fully multi-functional machine. Additional fuel tanks can significantly increase the derisory in the past range. Finally, the transition to operate as it dramatically reduces the cost. In essence, the program MiG-29UPG — it's actually an opportunity to get a new and relatively modern fighter for more than a modest price.

In March 2008, the Indian Air Force signed a contract worth 964 million dollars to modernize 63 MiG-29 standard UPG. "MiG", perceiving India as a strategic partner with whom a long-standing relationship of trust, to accelerate the conclusion of the agreement, though could prolong the negotiations and get a better price. However, realizing the urgent need to support the operation of the park Indians MiG-29, and hence the size of the air force in a protracted tender MMRCA, RSK sacrificed short-term commercial benefits for the long-term interests of both partners. As a result, the Russian program of modernization of MiG-29, two years ahead of a similar and more expensive program of modernization of the French Mirage 2000.

It seems that India's example influenced the Malaysian military, who are also thinking about the possibility of upgrading its fleet of MiG-29N. Earlier, there were plans to write off the remaining part of the Royal Malaysian Air Force 16 Mego in and replace them with new multi-role fighter, which was supposed to choose to hold a tender between American, European and Russian proposals. The harsh economic reality and sudden military and political complications in Sabah adjusted ambitious Malaysians (in March in this remote state armed groups of separatists landed with logistical support in the Philippines). Although the revolt eliminated, it is likely to continue the conflict. To avoid such a scenario, the Malaysian military need, above all, to block the penetration of new militias, which are used for crossing to the Malaysian territory of small boats. Upgraded standard UPG or even SMT MiG-29 will be the most effective and cheapest tool to fight attempts to break into new Sabah rebels. Modernization itself can take less than a year, while the tender, receive and development of new production machines — five to seven years. Radar "Zhuk-ME" allows seaborne targets and guidance on their anti-ship missiles or their defeat by the gun. Note that, for example, the European Typhoon antiship capabilities such does not possess.

The modernization of MiG-29 and the installation of a new modern radar — not only attractive solution for such advanced Air Force as Indian or Malaysian, but also for the less affluent countries. Moreover, for the states, modernization is a necessity dictated by budgetary constraints.

To date, in all markets, including the market of military products, face two opposite tendencies in many ways. Manufacturers themselves seek to continuously improve the complexity of the products, saturated them with additional and usually expensive, but non-obvious features. Following the fashion, the consumer perceives that sometimes dictate offers, but in most cases, you should find a rational logic of a better balance between cost and features. High-end products are always and everywhere will occupy a relatively narrow niche, but the mass buyer wants to have a simple and functional products. Complexes based on the MiG-29 — this is the second category of proposals. Nothing excessive, no imposed additional unnecessary features, but the absolute ability to fulfill its mission with a minimum expenditure of resources. In terms of depression and financial restrictions are increasingly the Air Forces of the world are beginning to appreciate these qualities.

ps The continuation of thishttp://sdelanounas.ru/blogs/32305/ 

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