Much has been made of the latest fifth-generation fighter aircraft, including the American Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and the Sukhoi Su-57, but there is still a place for generation four++ aircraft today.
Just as the United States is moving forward with its Boeing F-15EX to complement the F-35, Russia is taking a similar course with its Mikoyan MiG-35 (NATO reporting name Fulcrum-F), an all-weather combat attack aircraft that was developed to be capable of destroying enemy targets day or night, including moving and stationary ground and surface targets.
The Russian MiG-35, which is a follow-up of the MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2, is now undergoing its final state trials.
Here Comes the MiG-35
“The MiG-35 is at the stage of state joint trials and a preliminary certificate has been obtained for launching the production of a pilot batch of the aircraft,” said Musheg Baloyan, director of the MiG-29M, MiG-35 and Light Multi-Purpose Frontline Aircraft Programs Directorate at the MiG Aircraft Corporation, a division of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
“The flight personnel are fond of the plane, which is easy to operate and that helps a lot,” Baloyan explained in an interview with Tass on Thursday. “There are issues that do arise in the process of the aircraft’s operation and we are promptly ironing them out together with our customer [the Russian Defense Ministry].”
The MiG-35, which was developed to operate in areas of highly intense armed conflicts under an enemy’s dense and multi-layered air defenses, began its flight tests and demonstrated its capabilities to potential foreign customers in January 2017. The fighter’s factory trials were concluded in December 2017.
Since being announced in 2007, the MiG-35’s development has been slow and it was only in 2013 that the Russian Air Force announced it planned to order a total of just thirty-seven of the aircraft.
To date, fourteen MiG-35s have been produced to date – including six tests and eight serial-produced aircraft. Russia has remained the sole operator of the MiG-35, but a variant has been considered for export.
The MiG-35 is a Capable Warbird
The fourth-generation++ multi-role aircraft features vastly improved avionics and advanced weapons systems, including the new Phazatron Zhuk active phased array radar, which can detect multiple targets. The radar system is also resistant to electronic countermeasures and has a longer detection range than previous Russian-made radar platforms.
The aircraft is fitted with two Klimov RD-33MK afterburning turbofan engines, which can enable the aircraft to reach a maximum speed of Mach 2.25, and it has a combat range of about 620 miles. It has nine hardpoints, enabling the combat aircraft to it can carry a wide selection of missiles, rockets and bombs including Kh-31A anti-ship missiles with active radar seekers, the Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, Kh-29TE missiles and KAB-500Kr TV-guided bombs. It is also armed with a 30mm cannon.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.