Russia’s 4++ generation Mikoyan MiG-35 fighter jet was rolled out at the MAKS-2017 International Air Show (July 18-23) outside Moscow. The event is one of the world’s largest aviation forums that provides a comprehensive insight into the priorities and achievements of the Russian aerospace industry. Some prototypes of aircraft and combat systems, as well as experimental units, are demonstrated exclusively at MAKS. The first combat-ready MiG-35 will be delivered to the military next year. The initial batch will include 24 aircraft with more to follow.
The new MiG-35 (Fulcrum Foxtrot) is a greatly upgraded aircraft based on the earlier MiG-29 airframe. The main features of the new design are the fifth-generation information-sighting systems, compatibility with Russian and foreign weapons applications and an integrated variety of defensive systems to increase combat survivability. The upgrades include a completely new fly-by-wire flight control system, vastly improved cockpit, substantially upgraded avionics and an overall design philosophy that provides an enhanced degree of operational autonomy of the MiG-35 compared to earlier Russian combat aircraft. The MiG-35 integrates precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons.
The plane is capable of engaging in super-maneuverable air fights and strike targets both at sea and in the air. It can provide air support for ground operations and aerial protection for bombers, including the Su-34, which helped Russia succeed against the Islamic State in Syria. The MiG-35 is extremely rugged, designed to withstand heavy anti-aircraft fire and operate in austere conditions.
General characteristics and performance: crew – one or two, length – 17.3 m, wingspan – 12 m, height – 4.7 m, wing area – 38 m2. The aircraft weighs around 11,000 kg and its maximum take-off weight is 29,700 kg. The MiG-35 can climb at the rate of 330 m/s. The service ceiling is 17,500 m. The maximum speed is 2,700 km/h. The normal and ferry ranges of the aircraft are 2,000 km and 3,100 km respectively.
Armament: The MiG-35 can carry up to 7,000 kg of payload on ten external pylons. The suite of guided weapons includes Kh-31A anti-ship missiles with active radar seekers, the Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, Kh-29TE missiles and KAB-500Kr TV-guided bombs. Equipped with an external optical/laser targeting pod, the fighter can use the Kh-29L air-to-surface missiles and KAB-500L laser-guided bombs. The fighter carries 30-mm cannon with 1,500 rounds of ammunition.
The MiG-35 will add a completely new avionics suite.
The Zhuk-MA radar can simultaneously track between 10 and 30 aerial or ground targets at distances of up to 100 miles. It can engage up to six of them.
The plane features the NPK-SPP OLS-K electro-optical targeting system mounted on the engine nacelle in front of the elevators. It is not a removable pod. It operates in both visual and infrared wavelengths. The system relieves the aircraft from relying on ground-controlled interception (GCI) systems and enables it to conduct independent multi-role missions. The OLS includes a complex of powerful optics with infra-red (IR) vision that makes it impossible for any plane to hide, even if it’s a US stealth aircraft.
The OLS-K sensor can track moving vehicles from 20 kilometers and surface contacts at sea for 40 kilometers. An integrated laser rangefinder computes target distance up to 20 kilometers for weapons employment. The OLS sensor are useful in countering stealthy aircraft like the F-22 and F-35.
The aircraft uses two impressive Klimov RD-33OVT engines fitted with bi-directional thrust vectoring nozzles. The engines are smokeless, making the plane harder to track within visual range. The combination of thrust vectoring control (TVC) system and advanced missile-warning sensors gives it an edge during combat. One RD-33MK afterburning turbofan provides a thrust of 9,000 kgf. The engine is smokeless and includes systems that reduce infrared and optical visibility. It may be fitted with vectored-thrust nozzles.
The MiG-35 can fly at supercritical angles of attack at increased level of sustained and available g-loads and high turn-angle rate, which requires a greater thrust-to-weight ratio and improved wing aerodynamic efficiency.
The fighter can be refueled in flight. An addition, a strap-on tank behind the cockpit has allowed the MiG-35 to have a higher internal fuel capacity of 950 L. The capacity of the external fuel tank suspended under the fuselage has increased up to 2,000 L. Ferry range with three external fuel tanks has also been increased, rising to 3,100 km, and with one in-flight refueling the range will be 5,400 km. The fuel management system has also been digitized, and includes a new digital fuel metering system.
The engines could be swapped in the conditions of active operations within the framework of 58 minutes. The plane 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.
Egypt has ordered 50 MiG-35s. Russia is ready to offer the aircraft for India’s tender for the supply of light fighter jets, TASS news agency reported citing Dmitry Shugayev, the director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation.
The MiG-35 is one of the ten best fighters in the world. Extreme maneuverability makes it stand out among other warplanes. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he pins high hopes on the MiG-35 fighters. The demonstration at MAKS-2017 showed that the Russian Aerospace Forces are getting the aircraft they can be proud if. «The future belongs to this plane», said Viktor Bondarev, Commander of the Russian Air Space Forces in his comments at MAKS-2017 show.