SOURCE: Arush Singh / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Russia is known to deliver specially tailored aircrafts for the IAF. Whatever the critics say the SU 30 MKI is our front-line fighter and is one of the best fourth generation fighters in the world. The MIG 35 viz. a Russian light fighter jet offers India with a similar opportunity. It is already a very good platform which can be made excellent by some upgrades specifically needed to fit into Indian Requirements.
MIG 35 is a 4++ generation fighter with a speed of MACH 2.25 along with a new PHAZOTRON ZHUK AE AESA radar, a newly designed Optical Locator System, fifth generation Information Sighting System along with completely modernised Avionics which makes this fighter a true Multirole Jet.
Russian Economy right now is facing some challenges due to which Russian jets lack in some aspects with the western competitors due to lack of funding but still all Russian fighter jets are very capable. This gap in Russian jets can be easily filled by integrating subsystems purchased from other countries like as we did in the SU 30 MKI.
This new MIG 35 with suggested upgrades can be named as MIG 35 MKI. This jet will surely outperform both GRIPEN NG and F 16 Block 70/72 in almost all domains at lower procurement cost than these jets. So let us get into the list of suggested upgrades for this fighter jet:
Currently, MIG 35 uses RD 33 MK engines which are smokeless engines and have systems designed for reduction of infrared and optical visibility. We can use the RD-33 OVT variant of this engine which has vectored nozzles. These aircraft will increase combat efficiency by 12% – 15% along with the capability to direct thrust in two planes which no other existing fighter jets in the world (Not even the F 22 or SU 35 or our own SU 30 MKI which are considered as thrust vectoring beasts).
2.LITENING 5 POD
Integration of Rafael Litening 5 Pod will allow the jet to fire guided weapons from standoff range without relying on external supports. It is a fifth generation pod which is the successor of Litening G4 Pods used on Tejas and SU 30 MKI.
3.BRAHMOS NG INTEGRATION
Brahmos is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world developed by INDO-RUSSIAN JV. The Mig 35 can carry one Brahmos NG which is a lighter, smaller and faster version of Brahmos Cruise Missile having a speed of MACH 3.5
Although the jet already incorporated various stealth features, we can further increase the stealth of this jet by use of RAM (Radar absorbent material) developed for PAK-FA which can be applied to specific areas of this jet to enhance stealth. Apart from that, we can use some of the other subsystems developed for PAK-FA in this jet to further improve stealth features e.g, use of Radar Blockers designed for PAK FA.
5.INTEGRATION OF ADVANCED WEAPONS
IAF’s history shows that we have defeated technologically superior jets using the speed, manoeuvrability and lethal weapons of our fighters. Russian-origin weapons are good but there are better options for us in the market such as PYTHON 5 WVR missile, METEOR BVR, ASTRA BVR, Brimstone, SCALP etc. After analysing the requirements of IAF, the missiles needed for the IAF can be easily integrated on this jet due to its open architecture.
Apart from these five major upgrades, Indian origin sub-systems can be used on the jet which is suitable for our requirements and one can also adopt several technologies under development in Russia such as a PLASMA Shield which doesn’t allow any radio wave to enter inside it.
Why MIG 35 is not just an upgraded MIG 29?
Some defense analysts believe that the MIG 35 is an MIG 29 with a new name and have the similar engine problems as in the MIG 29 but let me inform you that the new RD 33 MK engines already fix the problems with the MIG 29 engines and the Indian government has already brought these new engines for the existing MIG 29 in India. And if the MIG 29 is such a useless platform that IAF dislikes, then why India is interested in buying Malaysian MIG 29N?
The MIG 35 is 30% bigger than an MIG 29. Average Cost per flight hour is 2.5 times less than the MIG 29 and its weapon carrying capacity is double to that of the MIG 29.
Russian Fighter jets are always based on proven designs of previous platforms with slight modifications and if someone believes that an MIG 35 is an MIG 29 variant then he might also consider SU 35 (one of the best flankers in the world) as an SU 27 variant. That’s rubbish as far as I can analyse.
Why MIG 35 is the best alternative for India?
We already have the infrastructure for MIG 29s, and it can be easily adopted for the new MIG 35s. Apart from that, one must understand that the IAF is facing huge depletion in its fighter jet fleet and the requirements are huge. If we go for a costly fighter jet we cannot get the required numbers due to a limited budget.
Apart from that, Russia is our trustworthy friend and is trying to sell these planes to us and since Russian economy is facing financial problems we have the perfect opportunity for us to sign an agreement with them on our terms.
The Gripen NG have one specific advantage of low Average cost flight per hour, it has low maintenance and some fancy sensors but in a war, appealing videos and nonstop promotion are not the factors which decide the outcome. Let me sketch the picture for you. You are a car racer and you need a good car to win the race.
You have two types of cars one is a car which is slower, costlier, have some fancy lights and is promoted as an ultimate solution by its manufacturers while the other is a rough and tough car which is faster, cheaper but it doesn’t have a good mileage like as the previous one. It also lacks those useless fancy sensors as well but we can add the sensors we need without any problem.
So decide what is your choice? Which one will you prefer for a competition? Even if you choose the fancy car you will not undermine the thought of having the rough and tough one too. At least give the MIG 35 a fair chance.