A Beast Of The Era Mig-29 Fighter Jet: Specifications, Variants and Operations

A Beast Of The Era Mig-29 Fighter Jet originally designed for air superiority, has undergone significant evolution, adapting to the demands of modern warfare.

The MiG-29, originally designed for air superiority, has undergone significant evolution, adapting to the demands of modern warfare. Many MiG-29s have been transformed into versatile multirole fighters, showcasing the aircraft’s flexibility in various operational scenarios. Equipped with an array of air-to-surface armaments and precision munitions, these fighters can perform a wide range of missions.

The MiG-29 family includes notable variants such as the multirole Mikoyan MiG-29M, the navalized Mikoyan MiG-29K, and the highly advanced Mikoyan MiG-35. The MiG-35 stands out as the most sophisticated member of this lineage, boasting advancements in engines, glass cockpits with Hands On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS)-compatible flight controls, state-of-the-art radar systems, infrared search and track (IRST) sensors, and significantly enhanced fuel capacity. Some models are also configured for aerial refueling, extending their operational range.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, several ex-Soviet republics have continued to operate the MiG-29. The Russian Aerospace Forces, being the largest operator, sought to upgrade its existing fleet to the modernized MiG-29SMT configuration. However, financial constraints have posed challenges, limiting the pace of deliveries. Despite these hurdles, the MiG-29 has maintained its global appeal as a sought-after export aircraft. Over 30 nations, either currently or in the past, have operated this formidable fighter, attesting to its enduring popularity and widespread use on the international stage.

Specifications:

The MiG-29, renowned for its agility and combat capabilities, employs hydraulic controls and features a SAU-451 three-axis autopilot. In contrast to the Su-27, the MiG-29 does not utilize a fly-by-wire control system. Despite this distinction, the aircraft exhibits exceptional agility, showcasing outstanding instantaneous and sustained turn performance, a high-alpha capability, and a notable resistance to spins. The airframe is primarily constructed from aluminum with some composite materials, designed to endure maneuvers of up to 9 g (88 m/s²). The controls incorporate “soft” limiters to prevent pilots from exceeding designated g and alpha limits, although these limiters can be manually disabled.

With a ferry range of 1,500 km (930 mi) without external fuel tanks and 2,100 km (1,300 mi) with external tanks, the MiG-29 is capable of covering substantial distances. The original MiG-29 (Fulcrum-A) is equipped with 4,300 L (950 imp gal; 1,100 US gal) of internal fuel distributed across six tanks, while the MiG-29 (Fulcrum-C) features an increased internal fuel capacity of 4,540 L (1,000 imp gal; 1,200 US gal) due to a larger #1 fuselage tank. For extended flights, additional fuel can be carried, such as a 1,500 L (330 imp gal; 400 US gal) centerline drop tank on the Fulcrum-A and two 1,150 L underwing drop tanks on later production batches.

The cockpit design of the MiG-29, while featuring conventional dials, incorporates modern elements such as a head-up display (HUD) and a Shchel-3UM helmet-mounted display. Unlike some contemporary aircraft, it lacks Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick (HOTAS) capability, prioritizing familiarity with earlier Soviet aircraft like the MiG-23 over ergonomic considerations. Nevertheless, the MiG-29 offers improved visibility, thanks to a high-mounted bubble canopy. Upgraded models introduce “glass cockpits” featuring modern liquid-crystal (LCD) multi-function displays (MFDs) and true HOTAS capability, aligning with contemporary aviation standards.

Variants:

The MiG-29 (Product 9.12), also known by the NATO reporting name “Fulcrum-A,” was the initial production version for the Soviet Air Force and entered service in 1983. This variant featured the Phazotron N019 Rubin radar, OEPS-29 optical-electronic sighting system, and a helmet-mounted sight.

The MiG-29 (Product 9.12A) ‘Fulcrum-A’ was an export version of the 9.12 model provided to Warsaw Pact countries. It included a downgraded RPLK-29E radar, less advanced OEPrNK-29E optoelectronic and navigation systems, and older IFF transponders. Additionally, this variant lacked the capability to deliver nuclear weapons. It was delivered to East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Romania.

The MiG-29 (Product 9.12B) ‘Fulcrum-A’ was designed for non-Warsaw Pact countries and featured further downgraded radar and avionics. This variant was delivered to India, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Eritrea.

The MiG-29UB (Product 9.51) is a twin-seat training model with only an infrared sensor mounted, lacking a radar. Its NATO reporting name is “Fulcrum-B.”

The MiG-29 (Product 9.13) ‘Fulcrum-C’ is an updated version of the initial production variant and entered service in 1986. It featured an enlarged dorsal spine to accommodate a larger No.1 fuel tank and the installation of the L-203BE Gardenyia-1 jammer, which was lacking on the initial 9.12 version. The enlarged spine earned this version and its successors the nickname “Fatback.”

The MiG-29 (Product 9.13B) ‘Fulcrum-C’ is an export variant of the 9.13 model provided to North Korea in semi-knocked down (SKD) kits. Built in Panghyon between 1991 and 1992, this version included the Gardenyia-1 jammer but had downgraded avionics and lacked IFF capabilities. There are conflicting reports about whether the Gardenyia system was actually delivered to North Korea.