MiG-35, Russia's New 4th-Gen Light Fighter, Readies for Combat


SALON DU BOURGET, France -- The next addition to Russia's roster of fighter jets that bridge fourth- and fifth-generation technology may join units as soon as 2019, officials with the MiG Corporation told Military.com here at the Paris Air Show.

The MiG-35, designed to replace MiG-29s rounding out their fourth decade in service, was absent from Paris but will be featured at the MAKS international airshow near Moscow in July as engineers finalize testing on the aircraft, said Anastasia Kravchenko, public relations director for MiG. Still to be determined is whether the fighter will be featured in a static display or aerial demo, she said.

MiG was already courting customers for the aircraft at the show, and Kravchenko said while she couldn't name many of the countries, the company has received interest from south and southeast Asia, Latin America, and near neighbors to Russia such as Kazakhstan.

The MiG-35 has been in development for well over a decade, with the first reported demonstration flight at the Aero India Air Show in Bangalore in 2007.

(Photo courtesy MiG) (Photo courtesy MiG)

"If we're talking about fifth-generation technologies, we can safely say that we have some of them integrated and not in tests, but in use by this jet," said Kravchenko, speaking to Military.com through a translator.

Some of those technologies include stealth capabilities, extreme maneuverability, and increased power: 12 percent more than previous models, she said.

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While early reports suggested the aircraft could feature thrust-vectoring engines, a feature inherent in the F-22 Raptor and Russia's SU-35, Kravchenko said that feature had been tested but would be offered only as an available option.

"If we talk about philosophy of the project, we consider this to be the plane that is built for today's combat," she said. "Since our planes including MiG-29s have been in numerous conflicts, we took all this experience and created what we call a soldier of today."

(Photo courtesy MiG) (Photo courtesy MiG)

Unlike many advanced fighters, the MiG-35 will also be extremely rugged, designed to withstand heavy anti-aircraft fire and operate in austere conditions, company officials said.

"It can take off from a very short lane, take off and land on unprepared airfields, and can be stored without a hangar for a period of a few months," Kravchenko said. "And it's important and we consider this to be somewhat of a record, if needed, the engines of the MiG-35 could be swapped in the conditions of active operations within the framework of 58 minutes."

Flight testing is slated to wrap up late this year, or early next, and production is expected to start soon after and last a little more than a year.

(Photo courtesy MiG) (Photo courtesy MiG)

But it's possible that by the time the aircraft is delivered to units, another MiG project will have stolen the spotlight.

It's rumored MiG is working on a fifth-generation light fighter. Sukhoi, Russia's manufacturer of heavy fighter jets, has been working on its own fifth-gen offering, PAK FA, since before 2010, with the introduction of the aircraft reportedly slated for 2019. But if the rumors are true, the future project would be a first for MiG.

"We can say that we are working on a prospective project. But we cannot give out technical information or timeframes," Kravchenko said. "And we can't split it into generations as well."

(Photo courtesy MiG) (Photo courtesy MiG)

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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