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In a significant development aimed at bolstering India’s air defence capabilities, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has greenlit a multimillion-dollar project for the acquisition of advanced engines and the extension of service life for its fleet of MiG-29 frontline fighter jets. This strategic initiative involves collaboration between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russian partners.

The approved deal, valued at approximately Rs 5,300 crore, will see the production of new advanced engines for the existing MiG-29UPG fighters in the IAF fleet.

Furthermore, the IAF has embarked on a second life extension program for its fleet of MiG-29 frontline fighter jets, aimed at extending their service span from 40 years to 50 years. This ambitious project is to be executed at the IAF’s No. 11 Base Repair Depot near Nashik to ensure the continued operational effectiveness of the MiG-29 fleet.

One key aspect of the upgrade program is the selection of engines for the MiG-29 fleet. While it remains unclear whether the engines will be RD-33 series-3 engines currently equipped on the MiG-29UPG fleet or the RD-33MK (Sea Wasp), an improved version used in the MiG-29K ship-borne fighter with the Indian Navy, both options promise significant enhancements in performance and durability.

The RD-33MK engine offers a 7% increase in power compared to the baseline model, thanks to the utilization of modern materials and optimized cooling mechanisms in the blade construction. With improvements in afterburner thrust and reduced dry weight.

IAF had planned to start retiring Mig-29UPG Squadrons from 2029 onwards but now it plans to keep them till 2035 when they will be replaced by the Tejas MkII fighter jets.

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