Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
29 November 1997
Also Known As: Fulcrum-E and Mig-29SM
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Description: The Mig-29, Fulcrum NATO-codename, is a single-seat, highly maneuverable fighter aircraft designed to engage airborne targets such as aircraft, UAVs and cruise missiles. It features a limited air-to-surface/ ground strike capability. The Mig-29 is the Soviet counterpart to US F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft. More than 1,300 Mig-29s have been produced for 27 countries worldwide. The Mig-29 aircraft features an integrated fire control system comprising the aircraft radar, and Infrared Search and Track (IRST) device, and a helmet-mounted sight. It can accommodate medium range R-27 and short range R-73 air-to-air missiles, bombs, and rockets as well as a built-in 30mm GSh-301 gun. The Mig-29 is able to outperform any existing western aircraft in a short range engagement employing the combination of R-73 missile, helmet-mounted sight and IRST. The Mig-29 Fulcrum avionics are not as sophisticated as its NATO counterparts aircraft such as the Mirage 2000, F-15, F-16, and F/A-18. In the event of an air-to-air engagement at medium range NATO-aircraft shall have advantage over the Soviet Mig-29. However in a dogfight the Mig-29 will outperform NATO-aircraft easily. In the ground strike role the Mig-29 doesn't match NATO-aircraft capabilities.
The Mig-29SMT is an upgraded version of the proven Mig-29A Fulcrum. It is able to act as an air superiority fighter and a strike aircraft employing precision-guided weapons. The Zhuk-ME multimode radar system is the core of the integrated weapon system supplied to the Mig-29SMT aircraft. In addition, an advanced glass cockpit and the HOTAS concept has been provided to this revamped aircraft. Six underwing and one ventral pylons will carry missiles, bombs, and external fuel tanks required to fulfill the mission. The Russian Air Force plans to upgrade up to 150 current Mig-29 and Mig-29UB aircraft to the Mig-29SMT and Mig-29UMT configurations respectively. The upgraded aircraft will be in service well into the 21st century with the planned PAK FA complex tactical combat aircraft to replace them in due time.
In 2002, Yemen became the first international operator of the Mig-29SMT fighter aircraft. MIG Corporation supplied new built Mig-29SMTs (14?) valued at more than $470 million to the Yemeni Air Force as well as upgraded Mig-29 early models already operated by Yemen. MIG hopes to get orders for upgrading older Mig-29s from Arab countries and Southeast Asia. It has been reported that Sudan has purchased some Mig-29SMTs and Iran could be interested in the same issue, but in both cases it hasn't been confirmed yet.
In July 2004, MIG Corporation disclosed plans to launch a further modernization of the Mig-29 which shall make the aircraft far superior to the Mig-29SMT. The new Fulcrum model would have new onboard equipment and avionics, stealthy features and thrust vector control (TVC) engines. The price and size would be similar to current Mig-29s and the range and payload matching the Flanker-series. The new model would be ready for series production in 2007.
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