IAF's trusted fighter MiG-29: Past, Present and Future
New Delhi, Oct 08: India was the first international customer of the MiG-29. The Indian Air Force (IAF) placed an order for more than 66 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase. Since its induction into the IAF in 1985, the aircraft has undergone a series of modifications with the addition of new avionics, sub-systems, turbofan engines and radars. Russian made MiG-29 fighter has been with the Indian Air Force (IAF) for over three decades and is still considered a formidable fighter.
Compared to MiG-21 and MiG-27, the MiG-29's operational record is good. MiG-29 was developed by the Mikoyan design bureau, Russia as an air superiority fighter during the 1970s. Though designed for combat, MiG-29s have been served as multi-role fighters capable of performing a number of different operations.
MiG is effectively 33 years old and still remain an effective weapons platform to this day. Indian review of the MIG-29 does show that the jet structures is still sound and worthwhile the upgrades it needs to performance for another 10-15 years, said a report published in defenceupdates.in.
India was the first international customer of the MiG-29. The Indian Air Force (IAF) placed an order for more than 66 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase. Since its induction into the IAF in 1985, the aircraft has undergone a series of modifications with the addition of new avionics, sub-systems, turbofan engines and radars.
MiG-29s were used extensively during the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir by the Indian Air Force to provide fighter escort for Mirage 2000s attacking targets with laser-guided bombs.
The Indian Air Force purchased 78 MiG-29 fighters since the 1980s and the fleet currently totals over 60 aircraft, as per reports. Three squadrons operate the MiG-29. In 2009, the Indian Air Force began an upgrade of its MiG-29 fleet to equip it with new electronics, radar and the capability to fire air-to-ground weapons.
Along with Mig-29, Mig-21 was the frontline fighter of IAF till the induction of the Su-30 MKI aircraft. Tejas Fighter should have replaced Mig-21 fleet, and Sukoi along with upgraded MiG-29 were to serve as frontline fighters.
According to the information available in the public domain, the IAF currently has around eleven squadrons of the Su-30MKI, three each of the MiG-29 and Mirage 2000, six of the Jaguar and six of the MiG-21.
Tough MiG planes have given a lot of problems to IAF, the complaints are least with MiG-29. Some 120-odd MiG-21s continue to be in service. These will be retired in phases till 2021-2022. The IAF will phase out nine squadrons of the MiG-21 and 2 MiG-27 over the next 5 years. Two squadrons of Rafale fighters, two of the LCA Tejas and two more Sukhoi-30MKI are to be added by then, making the number of 28 squadrons by 2022, a report published in The Tribune said.
The MiG-27 and the MiG-21 are one of the the oldest in the IAF inventory. The MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons have been in decline and the MiG-23 has been phased out completely. The IAF will phase out nine squadrons of the MiG-21 and 2 MiG-27 over the next 5 years.
IAF will get the MiG-29 fighters upgraded to the latest standards by Russia, and get them at virtually throwaway prices, reportedly Rs 200 crore per piece. They will augment the 62 MiG-29 fighters that are in the IAF's fleet which are also being upgraded to give them an all-weather multi-role capability.
Indian Air Force (IAF) is reportedly pushing a proposal for acquiring 33 new combat aircraft including 21 MiG-29s and 12 Sukhoi 30s. The Indian Air Force was reportedly looking for an "emergency shipment" of 21 MiG-29 fighters from Russia to make up for falling squadron strength.
IAF is said to be in advance talks with Russia for an urgent procurement of MiG 29 fighters that can be delivered at a relatively short notice. The plan to acquire 21 additional aircraft to make a new squadron of MiG 29 has been discussed in detail and is expected to cost the Indian exchequer less than Rs 6,000 crore. Some reports claim that a MiG-29 bought from Russian stocks would cost three times below what Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) charges for a freshly assembled Sukhoi Su-30MKI and five times below the reported cost for a Rafale.