The Sri Lanka Air Force is planning to soon purchase a fleet of MiG 29 Fighters from Russia. This article is an independent analysis of the aircrafts background and capability.
In the 70s the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau was given the task to develop an Air superiority fighter to counter the the F16 Falcon and it produced the MiG29, which still remains a powerful fast and agile dog fighter/air superiority fighter.
In the mid 70s US fighters with beyond visual range missiles pushed the conventional dog fighters away. But as proven in the Vietnam war the dog fighters had its role when all the missiles were fired and the only way to put down an enemy fighter was through a dogfight. Fighters had to swing back to the classic dog fighters with one on one capability.
With the false belief that the MiG 25 Fox Bat was an ultra fast interceptor and is capable of dogfight, the US designed the F15 Eagle, and as a fleet defence fighter the Grummen F14 TomCat. As a low cost and mass produced fighter came the General Dynamics F16. With all these developments it gave way to the 4th generation of fighter crafts.
MiG 29 has a central fuel tank and the whole structure did not have a fuselage in the traditional sense of it. The central section was designed as a lifting section generating 40% of lift. the leading edge of the wings were added for efficiency at high angels of attack needed for combat aircrafts.
The first MiG29 was called the object 9-12. In mid 70's in the MiG prototype factory north of Moscow the MiG 29 prototype was developed, with stressed skin aluminum construction. Comprehensive load testing to test the capability and stress of dog fights were performed, the aircraft was designed to withstand +12G. The pulse Doppler radar based weapons control with look down shoot down capability. And a Conventional antenna, with infrared search and track system, laser range finders and helmet mounted sight was added to the new fighter
It is said that “there is no way a pilot can brake the airframe of a MiG 29, the pilot will brake first”
The fighter has 2 Kilmov RD33 turbo fan engines with 35000 lb of thrust. High thrust to weight ratio can take the aircraft straight up after take off. These engines ware noted to have High thrust and low fuel consumption but are smoky, and has a reputation of engine failures. This was resolved with the new series 3 engines. (Technical and other details on Wikipedia)
The MiG 29 was designed without fly by wire, but it had something half way between conventional and fly by wire avionics system, this means the pilot has to constantly check and give attention to factors where in other fighters fly by wire takes over.
In October 6th 1977 the first flight of the prototype was carried out but the full production went off after 5 years of test and evaluation in 1982. in August 1983, the first fleets came out with the initial engine failure problems patched up. But later, a crash killed a test pilot and again in 1984 the chief test pilot got killed when the engine blew off in high altitudes.The MiG 29 is a front line fighter staying within 100kms of its own line whereas the Sukhoi SU27 will penetrate deep in to enemy territory.
MiG 29 is one of the front runners of the new Indian front line fighter bids, (bid of more than 126 multi role combat aircraft) but its said that with its old fire control computer system and the troubled and high maintenance engines, it will lose the bid. However Russia has produced a variant with Thrust vectoring-- the new MiG29 OVT and the MiG35 (2007).
Performance of this craft
* Maximum speed: Mach 2.4 - 2,445 km/h (1,518 mph)
* Range: 700 km combat, 2,900 km ferry (430 mi / 1,800 mi)
* Service ceiling 18,013 m / 59 060 ft (59,100 ft)
* Rate of climb: 330 m/s (65,000 ft/min)
* Wing loading: 442 kg/m² (90.5 lb/ft²)
* Thrust/weight: 1.13
* 1x 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds
* Up to 3,500 kg (7,720 lb) of weapons including 6 air-to-air missiles — a mix of semi-active radar homing (SARH) and AA-8 'Aphid', AA-10 'Alamo', AA-11 'Archer', AA-12 'Adder', FAB 500-M62, FAB-1000, TN-100, ECM Pods, S-24, AS-12, AS-14.
* Phazotron N019, N010 radars
-article by TomCat-