- MiG-29, India’s premier Air Defense Fighter aircraft has undergone major upgrades giving it the much needed strength and ferocity.
Background: MiG 29: Key features
- The MiG-29 is a light-weight air-superiority fighter aircraft developed by Russia.
- The twin-engine jet fighter was inducted into Indian Air Force in 1985.
- With about 110 Mig-29s operated by Indian Air Force and Indian Navy combined, India is the second biggest operator of Mig-29s in the world after Russia.
- Since 1985, the aircraft has undergone a series of modifications.
- Currently with advanced radar, turbofan engine, In Flight Refueling probe, advanced weapon control system and avionics, the MiG 29s belong to 4.5 generation fighter aircrafts.
- These modifications have transformed from Air-superiority fighter to Multi-role fighters.
Significance of MiG 29s
- The MiG-29 aircraft played an important role during the Kargil War of 1999.
- Three squadrons of 16-18 MiG-29s aircrafts each are deployed in the strategically important Adampur Air Force Station, which is around 100 km from Pakistan and 250 km away from China borders.
- The MiG 29s are far more superior to F-16s of the Pakistan Airforce with the capacity to launch Beyond Visual Range BVR missiles.
The primary issues identified with the aircraft included
- Older avionics and weapon system which were not user-friendly.
- Limited fuel capacity constraining the number of hours it could be flown.
- Besides, MiG 29s are known for its maintenance-prone character.
- The current upgrades involve mid-air refueling capability, multi-dimensional attacks capability, compatibility with the latest missiles, Multi-Functional Display (MFD) screen in the glass cockpit and capability for vertical take-offs.
- The upgradation has increased the flying duration of the aircraft by twice from the current flying time of 45-50mins.
- The upgradation has made the aircrafts capable of multi-dimensional attacks with air-to-air, air-to-ground and anti-shipping operation.
- The mid-air refueling capability has increased the flying time of the aircraft and thus can cover larger distances.
- The Multi-Functional Display (MFD) screen is capable of showing videos with sensors merged with graphics.
- The vertical take-off capability has helped the aircraft take off within 5 minutes of tracking an enemy jet and destroy it.