Upgrade with Care

I stumbled upon an article in Indian Express about the Indian Air Force’s recent plans to undergo massive upgrade.

Concerned over its dwindling aircraft fleet, Indian Air Force announced plans for massive upgradation of its entire frontline fighter fleet, barring the newly acquired Sukhoi-30MKI.

Digging a bit more revealed another article in The Telegraph:

An Indian Air Force order for 126 multi-role combat aircraft that is tantalising global military aviation majors has just got a little more complex with the Russians now offering a second fighter plane to India.

Moscow has told Delhi that it is ready to sell the MiG35, a fighter plane with the unique feature that it can stop in mid-air and turn around 360 degrees, with a complete transfer-of-technology package.

Like the US, Russia now has two types of aircraft in the race for the IAF order. A conservative estimate of the value of the order for 126 aircraft in the 20-tonne category is $5 billion over five years.

Mig 35 (photo:FAS)

It’s quite apparent that the Russians are desperate to make a deal regarding MiG35. I looked up a bit more on the MiG35 capabilities and prospects, and here is what I found from FAS website:

In March 1997, military officials scrapped plans to manufacture the MFI because it was too expensive. The Defense Ministry supports the MFI development program, and will decide on production following flight tests that could take up to seven years. The Russian air force will not gain one new, state-of-the-art warplane before the year 2005 because of insufficient financing. No new warplanes have been acquired since 1996.

The FAS, being Federation of American Scientists, could be a bit biased. However, I’m not particularly sure as to why the MiG35 program couldn’t receive adequate funding for production. If Indians — at this stage — go ahead with the MiG35 purchase, I’ll surely smell foulplay. It’s clear that the Russians are desperate to mill out some money from an aircraft design that hasn’t gone into full production yet.



Thanks to the comment by Mihir, a nomenclature confusion has been brought to light. The American scientists believe Mig35 is actually 1.42 MFI. This however is not echoed by the MiG corporation which terms Mig35 to be an upgraded version of Mig29.

Mr Federov was not the only surprise. MIG Corporation made a detailed presentation on what they are offering to the IAF- they don’t call it the MIG-29 but MIG-35s.
Source: The Tribune

This fact obviates whatever concerns I had regarding foulplay D . Nevertheless, competition for this purchase is still fierce, and the MiG corporation is fighting it out.