Mikoyan is a Russian aircraft factory founded in 1939 and given the name Mikoyan- Gurevich design bureau. It has turned out some legendary fighters like the MIG-15 ( of Korean war) and MIG-21. The last named has been flying for over 6 decades and rightly has found an entry into aviation's hall of fame. It is also the mainstay of the Indian Air Force.

The MIG-35 development

The Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau produced the MIG-29  also called the Fulcrum, but the plane was below expectation and the Russians have now launched an improved version called the MIG-35 or Fulcrum-F. This plane was shown at the 2007 Bangalore air show and many thought it was another version of the  MIG-29. The MIG-35 is a 4th generation fighter and 30% larger than the MIG-29. It also has the latest avionics and is the Russian equivalent of the F-35 the American stealth fighter.

The new MIG has the Zhuk-AE electronic array scanned radar (AESA). It is a single seat but has a twin seat version also. The aircraft is a stealth fighter and has an exceptional dogfight capability as well as ability to strike ship and surface targets.

Politics and MIG-35

The MIG-35 is closely watched by the USA. It was offered to India but lost out to the Rafale, the French plane. However, the Russian plane which retails for $ 35 million is much cheaper than the Rafale which is priced at $100 million. There is a good chance the Indians may regret the deal later on.

The MIG-35 has been bought by the Egyptian air force and the first batch is due to be handed over. If this happens it will be the first time that a Russian weapon system has entered Egypt after 1972 when Anwar Sadat sent 17,000 Soviet advisors packing. The deal is likely to be financed by the Saudi's as Egypt is bankrupt. The Saudi's have their own ax to grind as they are unhappy with American overtures to Iran and failure to attack Syria.The aircraft is giving leverage to Putin to get a foothold in the Middle East as he is under pressure in East Europe.

Last word

The MIG-35 is a sign that the Russian aircraft industry is in robust shape and only the American aircraft industry is a match for it. China is nowhere in the picture as are other powers. It will be interesting to compare how the latest MIG performs against the F-35 another state of art fighter used by the USAF. #Foreign Affairs #military