Speaking to Sputnik and the Rossiya Segodnya news agency, MiG Aircraft Corporation director Ilya Tarasenko offered his thoughts on recent news stories regarding MiG aircraft, including their use in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria, sales prospects, and rumors about the creation of a carrier-based version of the new MiG-35 multirole fighter.
In consideration of Russia’s ongoing military mission in Syria, Tarasenko was asked to comment on MiG Aircraft Corporation’s assessment of the effectiveness of its planes in that operation, including the MiG-29KUBR carrier-based multirole fighters operating aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov.
Tarasenko said that in the company’s view, “during combat missions from aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov, our planes showed off their best side, operating against ground targets and confirming their compliance with all the requirements presented to us by the Ministry of Defense.”
“I’d like to add that the Syrian Air Force has also conducted operations using MiG-29s that were delivered to them earlier, and have also showed their high effectiveness,” the director added.
Syria has an estimated 30 MiG-29A, MiG-29UB and MiG-29SM aircraft in its arsenal.
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In 2016, MiG Aircraft Corporation completed the delivery of MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB carrier-based aircraft for the Indian Navy. Asked to comment on this delivery, Tarasenko confirmed that the planes are now undergoing trials. “As part of our cooperation with India, we have another big contract, under which we are carrying out a major modernization of MiG-29 aircraft to MiG-29UPG level. This will be completed in the near future.”In 2014, Delhi slated 62 Indian MiG-29s for upgrade with Russian assistance. Following the upgrades, the MiG-29UPG’s performance characteristics will be similar to those of the MiG-29K, and will include expanded overall range and operational capabilities, including ground and sea attack capability at any time of day or night and in all weather conditions. This is made possible through the incorporation of the Zhuk-ME radar system, which features advanced air-to-surface functions like mapping and terrain following, and multi-target tracking.
Tarasenko noted that in Serbia too, MiG is working on all issues relating to the working life and possible upgrades of the country’s fleet of MiG-29s.
Last week, Serbian media reported that Russian specialists would assist with the modernization of ten MiG-29 aircraft for the Serbian Air Force, and that the planes are expected to be introduced into the 204th Air Brigade starting in 2018. “Active negotiations are underway, and a number of contracts have been reached for the supply of spare parts through Rosoboronexport [the state intermediary for Russian weapons sales abroad],” Tarasenko noted. “Negotiations are being conducted with the Serbian side, and I hope that soon we will sign the contract,’ he added.
Overall, Tarasenko said that the MiG Aircraft Corporation has about $4 billion US worth of orders today, which is one of the largest portfolios in the Russian defense sector. “India remains our main partner, and we are also working with countries where the MiG-29 has been exported, including Peru, Bulgaria and Poland,” he said. “In the countries where these fighters exist, we have contractual obligations, and we work about fulfilling them.”
As for the new MiG-35 4+++ generation multirole fighter, the general director said that the company is now “actively promoting” the aircraft, and “carrying out negotiations with a number of countries.”
“All the operators of the MiG-29 have confirmed their interest in the new fighter; we’re talking about 29 countries. They’re interested because they are already prepared to take the plane; they will not have to rebuild their infrastructure to accommodate it; they already have the necessary training for technicians and pilots, and would only need to study up [on the new plane], something that wouldn’t take long,” Tarasenko explained.
“In fact,” the director noted, “there are 56 countries that use the MiG brand. Most of them have expressed their interest in our new product.”
Asked to confirm or deny rumors of a naval aviation version of the MiG-35 being created, Tarasenko revealed that “It’s possible.”
“It’s possible thanks to the strengthened design of the MiG-35, which makes it fully compliant with the demands of operation as a naval aircraft. In the future, upon receiving the relevant [state] order, we can work to modify the aircraft into a naval version,” the company director noted.
Last month, United Aircraft Corporation President Yury Slusar confirmed that the Russian military would begin purchasing the MiG-35 on a mass scale beginning in 2019. President Vladimir Putin soon clarified that following the successful completion of state trials, the Aerospace Defense Forces would order their first batch of 30 MiG-35s, and would buy 140 more in the coming years to completely upgrade Russia’s fleet of light frontline aviation aircraft.
The MiG-31 interceptor aircraft has its own integrated modernization program too, Tarasenko said, adding that over 100 planes are involved. The upgrades are expected to be completed over the next few years.
MiG Aircraft Corporation has been upgrading Russia’s fleet of MiG-31s to designation MiG-31BM and MiG-31BSM, which features onboard electronics and radar systems, giving the planes improved air target detection capabilities and automatic tracking of between ten and 24 targets. The MiG-31BM can effectively act as a small early warning radar, and function as an airborne command post coordinating other fighters with less powerful radars.
Aero India 2017, an international aerospace exhibition, kicked off on Tuesday at the Yelahanka Air Force Base outside the city of Bangalore, southern India. Featuring over 750 companies from India and around the world, MiG, naturally, is also represented at the event.”
“MiG is going to this air show with its flagship aircraft – the MiG-35,” Tarasenko noted. “We have confirmed about thirty negotiations during the exhibition, and will present the plane to our main customer – the Indian Air Force, with whom we will hold talks in Bangalore through Rosoboronexport.”