Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The MiG 29

MiG29 in flight

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-

MiG29M OVT. Demo by Russian pilots


Rover said...

Initially I wasn't a proponent of getting the Fulcrums, but when you consider their nighttime versatility, air to ground capabilities, and the role as a deterrent, I think they are a worthwhile investment. I really hope that they will be used to provide cover for the MID operations at night (when the LTTE arti positions open up, Fulcrums can home in using FLIR).

Rover said...


Can you tell us a bit more on the nighttime air to ground capabilities of the Fulcrums (especially the MIg29sm variants, according to DefenceNet, that SL is getting).

I like the statement "there is no way a pilot can break the frame of a fulcurm, the pilot will break first!"

I also so in Wikipedia that the Fulcrum is better than the US'S F15 for dogfighting, due to the helmet mounted target acquisition system in the Fulcrum.

Rover said...

At around 1500 mph, if pressed, the Fulcrums should be able to get to Kili, in 10 mins, cool.

Srilankan said...

I have no objection against Mig-29's..but why do i get this feeling that these guzzle much more fuel than the Kfir..higher fixed operational costs.Guzzling fuel seems like the ex-soviet way of incresing thrust..i could be wrong

TropicalStorm said...

These jets have a reputation as maintenance nightmares, something we can hardly afford to have when the demand is for more robust delivery platforms with greater loiter capability over enemy terrain.

Moshe Dyan said...

i still think that buying 5 MiG29s for US$ 15 each is a big waste of money. it is equal to the cost of 25 MiG27s that we purchased last year!!

it is excessive and irrelvant in some of its capabilities and too expensive to maintain.

if one crashes, that is about 1.7 billion rupees!!!!!! and i doubt it can provide any additional capability IMPOSSIBLE to be obtained from existing planes with/without enhancements.

is there anything that we do not know that influenced the purchase?

somewhere i read that tigers may possess a MiG-21 Fishbed. is it possible? in that case MiG29 is the cheapest and safest option!!

Defencewire said...

TomCat will answer your question. He is the specialist.

1st question--Yes
2nd question--No. Impossible!

Moshe Dyan said...

thanks DW for the quick reply.

Q: is there anything that we do not know that influenced the purchase?

A: yes.

does anybody know what these other factors are?

Guns&Roses said...

oh ,we should have purchased few mine clearing machines like " pythons" instead of getting those
at the moment poor soldiers are the once who do the mine clearing jobs by risking there lives

LKDOOD said...


great article

this one is specially good for mig lovers


LKDOOD said...

Air Force warplanes destroy LTTE training facility and Radar post in Wanni


E.T. Bailey said...

Don't buy mine clearing vehicles, make one. It's not nuclear physics here, it's bomb on a rope. If the LTTE can make "stealth boats" for rams, turn entertainment prop planes into light bombers, and turn articles of clothing into weapons, the Nation of Sri Lanka should have the capacity to make a giant pop rocket with a chain of explosives tied to the end.

I really don't understand Sri Lanka's obsession with buying weapons from the rest of the world. Some things the island can't make, but others they can, and mine clearing devices are one such example. Still other things the country doesn't need to buy, like the Mig-29. For a nation with such a limited budget, and with a major offensive in the works...or so it's been said...wasting money on planes that offer no major advantage over the LTTE is just shooting yourself in the foot.

TheTruth said...

e.t. bailey,

I cant agree with you more...this is something I have lamented over for so long now I've just given up.

This war was a golden opportunity to set up a local defence industry at least for small arms munition...ffs.

I will always admire the LTTE for their innovation and faith in indigenously developed tech...

At a time when it is becoming apparent how a poor foreign service and international sanctions are seriously affecting our ability to procure offensive weapon systems...I HOPE the defence establishment are finally address this huge deficiency in our defence doctrine....

serendib said...

"According to Wing Commander Wijesooriya the targets have been positively identified through human intelligence and verified by air surveillance. The Kfir and F-7 fighter jets carried out the missions jointly and the targets were accurately hit the added citing the fighter pilots."

F-7 joins the fun.. eh?

E.T. Bailey said...


Yeah it's been something about the island I've never been able to get my head around. That and declaring a time table of less than one year for winning the war while refusing to mount a major offensive. I actually talk about such things in my own blog that I've been fooling around with this month.

Back to the Fulcrum though, every nation should arm their military with the tools they need to complete their mission. In this war, that means mine clearing equipment, and aircraft that specialize in engaging ground targets. Not that Sri Lanka could ever get one of these, but an ideal example would be an A-10. All the same, there are dozens of planes between a Warthog and a Fulcrum, all of which would be better buys than this.

Hell, don't even buy new birds, just use the money to fund a more aggressive use of what jets are already in service. With that money, the SLA could actually call in air strikes on the FDLs for a change instead of the limited use they have today.

Rover said...

Thanks Def. net, but can't seem to get hold of TomCat (hope he hasn't gone chasing pussy cats).

Anyways, getting improved Migs instead of a plethora of other systems will help us prevent a maintenance nightmare.

I think for a country like ours, which is under the influence of various sources (for example the western IC) that sometimes don't see our legitimate grievances, it is important to find reliable sources, even if they are a bit expensive, when buying weapon systems that the whole country depends on.

LKDOOD said...

Row erupts over Tamil rebel film


Sri Lanka campaign to discourage suicide bombers


TomCat said...

The MiG29 fighter was designed as an compleate air superiority fighter to counter the F16 Falcon, and is one of the worlds best air combat fighters. But it has its own problems with the arrival of the 20th cenruty.

Some fighters that were developed for a specific need has proven beyond that need, for an example the F15 was developed to counter the MiG25 FoxBat. Thinking the FoxBat is an high speed interceptor as well as an extrmly agile dog fighter. But the irony is this fear led to the development of the F15 that can do all of that plus with some modifications was able to attack not only air to air but also air to sea and air to ground. But no modificaton could change the the MiG25 FoxBat. during the gulf war the F15 proved its superiority over the MiG25.

MiG29 fulcrum was developed as an compleate air superiority fighter, but just like the F15 with some modifications it also did perform as an multi roll fighter in 80's.

The Indian Airforce has stopped using the MiG29 in high altitude bombing rades, instead they have the Mirage 2000 to do the bombing escoted by MiG29. But the MiG29 is still a frount lign fighter in IAF.

Most countried thats using MiG29's are now looking for better options like the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet.

"The Problem is Not the MiG29 the Problem is the Rusian Economy" is a good frace to describe the downfall of the Great MiG29. With its old sensers it is hard to compete with the High tech modern fighters. The Mighty 80's super fighter, "The MiG29" has suffered major fallbacks in the past few years. Its incapability of perfoming in all weather day and night missions is the main setback for the MiG. Coupled with the old engine problems its falling back in the 4th generation fighter market.

The old computer system that can track multiple targets cannot perfome in bad weather and the look down shoot down system has the same problem.

Its Phazotron RLPK-29 (Radiolokatsyonnui Pritselnui Kompleks) radar Fire control system (FCS) which includes the N019 (Sapfir 29; NATO: 'Slot Back') look-down/shoot-down coherent pulse-Doppler radar and Ts100.02-02 digital computer is now old and is incapable of perforlming as a 4th generationfighter in modern warfare. This has been proven when MiG-29 was not able to reliably utilize the new BVR (Beyond Visual Range) Vympel R-27R (NATO: AA-10 'Alamo') long-range SARH missile at its maximum ranges. The radar has a poor display, giving poor situational awareness. Cannot track target's in trail only the lead targets are tracked by the radar system, the look down shootdown system cannot be used because of this issue. The inability to conduct High Value Asset Attack (HVAA) missions are ristricted. In other words the Avionics package itself must be upgraded ground up to bring back the old super fighter. Without this its ground operations will be inacurate.

Another issue with the MiG29 is its engine the Klimov RD-33. Unlike the Su 27 engine The Saturn AL-31, the RD33 has inherited problems. The RD33 is known for its fuel hunger and unreliability. When the MiG29 first flew it showed signs of initial problems. And these initial problems were sorted out and was put to production. But later on the engine problems itself killed 2 test pilots in 3 years.

The MiG29 can be compaired with the F15 when it comes to servicing and maintenance. F15 is known to be the best Multi roll fighter with its 100+ to Nil kill ratio. in every combat situation it was put in to it managed to out perform the the enemy fighters including the MiG29 in operation desert storm.
(keep in mind that this is the F15C not the later better F15E)

but the F15 is also known as a hanger queen, in other words after every operation it has to go through a full servicing and a full maintenance program unlike other fighters. Like the F15 the MiG29 has the same problem and it too has high maintenance engines. This is why india is looking for a better fighter (126 multiroll fighter program). MiG has produced its new MiG29 varient the MiG35 to enter the bid, but by the looks of it india seems to be moving away from the Mikoyan (MiG) offer.

Algeria has demanded that Moscow take back several MiG fighter jets supplied under a major arms deal because of quality concerns, dealing a painful blow to Russian pride,

Algeria said it wanted to return the first 15 MiG-29 fighter jets supplied last year and refused to take the remaining aircraft under a $1.3 billion contract, Russian news reports said. The 2006 deal envisaged the delivery of 34 MiG-29s in 2007-2008.

Most countried thats using MiG29's are now looking for better fighters like the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet are some of the competition.

But that dosnt meen that the MiG29 is an old timer, the reliability of its airframe and its airodynamic design has made it an versetile fighter. There are many upgrade programs
Phazotron Zhuk-ME phased array radar is one upgrade for the radar system.

When buying a MiG
Only a minority of coutries, like China and India, which purchased Russian-built aircraft recently, have got reasonably modern aircraft. But russia still have old aircrafts built in the coldwar period. aircrafts equipped to similar standards to the Soviet and Warsaw Pact air forces of the late 1980. This is one issue the SLA must look in to before buying the MiG29. It must be NEW...!! or ask for an upgrade like Malaysia (radar updates to allow integration of the R-77 AAM, and the IFR probe or the SU35 Radar package). Including Minor changes like more modern radios, and English language tablature and instruments throughout the cockpit. Or go for the Sniper upgrade offered by Elbit and Aerostar. Sri Lanka has again started relationships with Isrial now can ask for this package.

Or Go for the MiG-29SMT not the SM right at the begening. The MiG29 SMT has Additional fuel tanks in a further enlarged spine provide a maximum flight range of 2,100km (on internal fuel). Cockpit enhanced HOTAS design, two 152 × 203 mm (6 × 8 inch) colour liquid-crystal MFDs and two smaller monochrome LCDs. Upgraded Zhuk-ME radar provides similar feature to the MiG-29M. Power plant upgraded the RD-33 ser.3 engines, afterburning-thrust rated same at 8,300 kgf (81.4 kN) each. Weapons load increased to 4,500 kg on six underwing and one ventral hardpoints, with similar weapon choices as for the MiG-29M variant. The upgraded aircraft has also painted path for non-Russian origin avionics and weapons. This version is currently serving the air forces of Russia (16), Yemen, Algeria, Syria, and Iran

Moshe Dyan said...

tomcat on the fullcrum!! ha ha.

thanks tomcat.

BTW F-14 was codenamed "tomcat".

Rover said...

Cool, thanks a lot TomCat.

"during the gulf war the F15 proved its superiority over the MiG25."

But the machines aren't directly comparable is it(?) as the Iraqi pilots must be poorly trained compared to the US pilots.

But through Tomcats perspective, it seems that the fulcrum would be useless as a air to ground or air to sea raider, AND as a night fighter. Oh, well, seems like the fulcrum deal won't pay off in the long run.

hemantha said...

Very informative. It would be great if you can present the market prices too.

TropicalStorm said...

US 75million could have provided a whole lot more body armor and critically important training to the front line troops who will bear the brunt of the future combat.
Some of that money also could have been spent on welfare for the familiies of dead soldiers.

hemantha said...

"Or Go for the MiG-29SMT not the SM right at the begening."

No my friend. It's never going to happen. Mig-29SMT is so expensive (US$ 53 million). It's out of our range. People will begin eating each others heads if we buy a fighter plane for five thousand eight hundred million rupees.

TomCat said...

Moshe Dyan,

Yes its funny… anyway like the F14 Tomcat I’m retired so it’s a better name for me…

When in battle you cannot complain that you have old equipment and haven’t got proper upgrades to face the enemy. Simply the current situation is the Russian fighters are inferior to the US fighters, but it can be changed with enough money. But when it comes to fighting USA with any weapon, it’s a different case. US has better intelligence better technology and better everything, so it doesn’t make any difference what fighters or what equipment you have. Simply you will just loose conventional war. Keep in mind the Iraq air force had Su27 fighters.

SU27 and SU37 are considered to be the most manuvable jet fighters in the world. But the problem is they never get the chance with the new Air to Air missiles (AMRAAM, Sidewinnder) to have a proper one on one dog fight.

Sukhoi's chief designer challenged any U.S. aircraft to a mock dogfight with the SU37 "... any time, any place!"

I’m not saying that it’s a complete waste of money. The thing with Russian Aircrafts is it needs a new software and new avionics. They lack these because they had a bad time with money. Because the air frame is really strong it just needs a new avionics package and a new radar system with better displays like the Sniper system. But the problem is how much money will the SLA have to pay for the upgrades?

Its better if SLA goes for a dedicated ground attack fighter like Su-25KM which is newer and is a battle proven ground attack fighter.

About the MiG25 fox Bat, this is an extremely fast interceptor but not a good fighter. This can achieve three times the speed of sound. And can reach very high altitudes. Its more like a small spacecraft. To counter the problems with the MiG25 Fox Bat they created the MiG31 Fox Hound. In a nutshell The MiG31 lacked manoeuvrability at interception speeds, was difficult to fly at low altitudes, and its thirsty turbojet engines resulted in a very short combat range at supersonic speeds.

Although the MiG’s had the edge in 1960’s and 80’s they started loosing it very fast. The funny thing is the great MiG15 which killed US fighters in 1960’s had a Rolls Royce jet engine clone.

With the new avionics and new radar improvement that happed after the microprocessor revolution wasn’t properly picked up by the Russians. Mainly because of economic downfall.

But now Russia is working with India to develop a 5th generation fighter to counter the F22 and the F35. It is called the Sukhoi PAK FA. Not much information is available about this fighter other than the initial prototype is scheduled to have its flight tests in 2009.

TomCat said...

Very true. But we can go for the Su-25 which is only 11million.

But it’s just a suggestion. I don’t think the SLA will listen to any of us.

hemantha said...

"Very true. But we can go for the Su-25 which is only 11million."

So Mig is bit expensive.
Mig-29M $15 million
Su-25 $11 million

If we consider the performance what would be the comparison between them?

Guns&Roses said...

Well, Gota would get very angry at you people if he sees your comments
its commission time for him

he is a Mig commission specialist remember?

Moshe Dyan said...

thanks tomcat; very informative.

i agree with you. the fulcrum is too expensive and irrelevant.

someone suggested su-25 in a previous DW or Dn thread; can't remember who it was. i disagreed.

the problem with su-25 is its VERY SLOW SPEED and DANGEROUSLY LOW RATE OF CLIMB and hence lack of fast manueverability. it can easily be preyed upon by the tigers. for instance the few instances Kfirs and MiG-27s escaped would have been craches if su-25 faced those situations.

my suggestion is more MiG-27s. at 2007 prices we could have bought 25 MiG-27s!! of course there are other requirements than 25 jets.

TomCat said...

It’s a bit hard to compare these 2 aircrafts. One is a dedicated dogfighter plus has multi roll capability, and the other is a dedicated ground attack jet.

Yes Moshe Dyan,
It has problems with the climb and is a sub sonic aircraft, but so is the A10 Thunder bolt. A10 is a bit slower than the SU25 and USAF was just about to retire the aircraft when the gulf war broke out.

This aircraft proved its existence and showed the world that its one of the best close support attack aircrafts in the world

We are talking about the Iraqi armed forces. Just before it met F15’s F16’s AH64 A, D and D longbows, A10’s and M1 Abrahams it was the 4th largest army and was armed to the teeth with latest Russian weapons. And the A10 managed to survive. The A-10 is scheduled to stay in service with the USAF until 2028

According to wikipedia “In 1991 A10 destroying more than 1,000 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces. A-10s shot down two Iraqi helicopters with the GAU-8 gun. Seven A-10s were shot down during the war. A-10s had a mission capable rate of 95.7%, flew 8,100 sorties, and launched 90% of the AGM-65 Maverick missiles fired in the conflict. Part of the reason for this success were the burning oil wells that provided Iraqi tanks some cover from advanced electronics and high-flying fighters like the F-15 and F-16, where the trained eye, longer gun range and stable gun platform of the A-10 proved its worth.

Moshe Dyan said...

tomcat, A-10 thunderbolt is a different type of a cat. it is fitted with much advanced avionics, etc. and weapons wise far better than Su-25. of course if we have a few A-10s its fantastic.

A-10 and su-25 although built for the same purpose the former has developed ALOT along the way but the latter was simply disregarded. i watched somewhere the amazing gadgets the A-10 was fitted with....beyond comparison!!

These are the main differences.

In Iraq, A-10s went in after most Iraqi anti-aircraft capabilities were mercilessly destroyed by F-16s, F-117As, B-52s and B-2s before A-10 proceeded.

But there is no doubt A-10 is a great piece of weaponry; way ahead of Su-25. A-10 can break all hell on LTTE (that is if we have one) but not the Su-25.

for some reason Su-25 reminds me the old Pukara although the two are completely different.

LTTE won't let a Su-25 pass over its bases unscathed; it lacks tech. and lacks speed and climb. Our kfirs and Migs had narrow escapes. We cannot futher compromise on speed and climb.

thanks for the answer tomcat.

RomeoAlphaFoxtrot said...

DefenceWire - In your own opinion do you think SLAF should go for the MIG-29? Can you justify your answer ?

TomCat - I understand by your comments that the Mig29 is not the best fighter from the current generation of fighters. But is it good enough
1. For SLAF to counter the threat posed by the 'Air tigers' ?
2. For SLAF to perform any future patrolling of the Sri Lankan Air Space?

shay said...


I agree with you. Su-25 was evaluated by the SLAF and rejected when they chose the Kfir instead.

Its true that the USA uses A-10 and Apache's extensively for CAS. However, there have been losses to ground fire, especially Apaches, despite having much more sophisticated technology than SLAF aircraft. The US can afford to lose planes, we cannot afford to lose a single aircraft. So its better to stick to fast jets. As you pointed out, if Kfir and Mig's had narrow escapes despite their speed, a Su-25 would most likely have been shot down.

The problem with CAS is not the lack of slow moving aircraft/choppers. CAS can be provided just as well by fast jets like the Mig-27. The problem is lack of aircraft. To have round the clock CAS, you need to have aircraft in the air all the time ready to take out targets of opportunity and excellent co-ordination with ground troops. For a better explanation, check out this post by Eksath on the LNP Kfir thread.


Its true that Mig-29 is not perfect. But, out of the available new aircraft, its probably the only one we can afford and/or be allowed to buy. Another possibility was JF-17, but its slightly more expensive and its still too new to make an evaluation.

Moshe Dyan said...

thanks shay for the link. came to know many new things. i'm one of those "general public" who ALWAYS wanted more from the SLAF. But not from jets rather from Mi24s.

i agree with the post that gunships are a good option for regular CAS. very happy the SLAF is doing so.

agree; there are times when jets are needed.

however i do not agree that 100 hours are targetted for a plane for a year. i read MiG27s were added 3000 guaranteed flying hours. Surely 30 is not the lifespan. it got to be at most 10 years with 300 hours annually.

LKDOOD said...


Three new Majors General:

Three Brigadiers, who are currently in the northern battle filed, have been promoted to the rank of Majors General. They are Jagath Dias – (General Officer Command (GOC) -57-Vavuniya), Deepal Alwis (Military Secretary) and Jagath Rambukkpotha (GOC-56-Omanthai), military sources said.

Defencewire said...

The need to replace esisting attack aircraft is justifiable given the engines and the airframe of some of our bombers maybe nearing their usefulness in active duty.

The choice of MiG29s as a multi-role (air to air, air to ground ) attack fighter needs further justification for us.

First of all what is the need?

The need is not a fighter to do dogfights but a fighter to strike (decapitation) at LTTE leadership and assets. I am disregarding the so-called threat posed by LTTE bombers as such a threat never existed. It was just a morale booster and publicity stunt aimed at the Tamil Diaspora and to get the government and the security forces to focus away from what matters most and to empty our coffers by spending more money looking for alternatives. We should be ashamed to have exactly this happen to us over this deal.

Our sources now indicate that some, or even most of the LTTE air assets may have already been destroyed. In any case, buying MiG29s to down a Zlin is like using a sledgehammer to squash a fly. We have suggested better alternatives for this like the Super Tucano.

The main role performed by these jets is, like I've said, decapitation strikes and then attacks on LTTE assets. I do not think MiG29 is the only alternative here. For one, it consumes 50 gallons of fuel for taxi and takeoff alone. Its engines, made of Aluminum casing are not durable enough.

These two things (forget the other technical specificities) are going to cost us more in the long run. There is evidence, like in the Algerian case that foreign users of the MiG29 are unhappy with the two things mentioned and like the Algerians, some are going to return them back to Russia.

I firmly believe that more money needs to be spent on HUMINT to find out where the Tiger heads are than to purchase more and more attack crafts. Without the HUMINT, no amount of strike capability matters. But with MUMINT, even a Super Tucano can kill Prabhakaran in broad daylight or the stormiest of nights!

LKDOOD said...

some pictures from the front lines

Pictures taken March 26, 2008



Rover said...

Tomcat, thanks for the information, I agree with what you've said about the capabilities of the USAF.

Rover said...

Ok, imagine a scenario such as this (there are many other conceivable scenarios where speed would be the key to success). SLDF forces get close to Kili. VP decides to jump ship and leave SL with his cronies (as he has no other place to go), and uses several of his Zlins, going in different directions, away from Colombo. Then we would need fast interceptors (together with a wingman) to go after each of these Zlins. Given that the cheapest and fastest interceptors that is available are the fulcrums, I guess it is ok to have them as a deterrents to counter the aerial threat.

Rover said...


I quite agree with your point on developing HUMINT, and the money spent (and that will be spent on maintenance) on the Fulcrums would have helped us to buy a lot of information (and as someone pointed out, better equip the army ect.). But the need for a fast interceptor is also crucial, perhaps to tackle a scenario which I have outlined above? Or are there other just as fast and "cheap" interceptors that we could have got?

TomCat said...

Never never never ever compare the SU25 with Pukara.
“for some reason Su-25 reminds me the old Pukara although the two are completely different.” - Moshe Dyan,
“In Iraq, A-10s went in after most Iraqi anti-aircraft capabilities were mercilessly destroyed by F-16s, F-117As, B-52s and B-2s before A-10 proceeded.”
In Afghanistan the SU25 just went in without any of the support the A10 got and managed to carry on precision attacks. It went in head to head with Chinese built anti aircrafts fire and Russian built missiles. With all this it managed to hit the targets, although around 22 were lost. it happened in a period of 8 years of combat, without any ground support no proper intelligence. I have to say that almost all the SU25 that were shot down by, were done by Stinger’s, but keep in mind this was without the proper surface to air missile defenses. The lessons learnt were good lessons and the new ones are fitted with flares.
The SU25 is the work horse of the Russian air force it served in Afghanistan and Chechenia. completely two different terrains. And it’s still performing well in its roll. Do I have to remind you about the time where the SLAF purchased Kfir? I don’t think so. But just to remind you about it, it was when SLAF bought 5 Mi24’s from Global Omarus which cannot fly, and the kfir deal was known to be dodgy, when the rusian government offered G to G equipment our government didn’t take the offer guess why? Not because the SU25 was bad, because the commissions were bad.
My question is if the SU25 is that bad why are the Russians operate 250 SU25’s?
During the Afghanistan war the SU25 got the nick name as the flying tank. I will post a full detailed description of the SU25.

TomCat said...

I have one question, according to your comment who evaluated the SU25? Think twice and ask yourself, why are we having this whole conversation about the MiG29? Didn’t the SLAF evaluate the MiG29 as well?

Rover said...

Tomat, thanks for the info on SU25.

It is frustrating to know that SU25s were bought due to low commissions for the people/gov involved.

"I will post a full detailed description of the SU25."


sldf said...

Very few Su-27s have been exported so far, namely to only China, Vietnam and India. India now going Su-30MKs. But in contrast, there are over 600 Fulcrums in various Airforce services plus availbility of spare parts. Su-27 know to have higher maintenance costs and complex to operate than the MiG-29. SLAF pilots having flying the Mig27s and their transition to Mig29 will be much easy than any other aircraft, Thus India has about 70 MiG-29s in service, and IAF will be happy to train our pilots and crew in Mig29 operations. Also Su's costs alot more than the MiGs, package deal SLAF got with Rusians if SLAF had gone for SU27 would have cost us $10m more a piece.

Even though primary role of the MiG-29SM is to destroy air targets. It has the capacity to attack both stationary and moving targets with guided/unguided munitions in all weather/night time conditions.

Where as JF17 is the other "low cost" $20 million a piece? SLAF alternative. JF17 uses the same Russian engine, the RD-93. But JF17 is new, still in the testing phase. So it's not battle proven aircraft like the Mig29. I think SLAF made the right move with MIG29SM. Given the assumption that no illegal/commisions or kick backs were taken.

sldf said...

Defencewire, need for effective investment and development of CI/HUMINT has been long over due. If you can post an article about HUMINT without revealing Army activities that'll be great :)

Moshe Dyan said...

thanks tomcat; very informative.

look forward to the Su-25 article.

we very much appreciate your contribution.

E.T. Bailey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E.T. Bailey said...


"In Afghanistan the SU25 just went in without any of the support the A10 got and managed to carry on precision attacks."

To be fair, the Mujahadeen didn't have the 4th largest army in the world or a massive air defense network. You can't compare the Su-25's role in Afghanistan to Desert Storm.

Do you remember what people were saying before the shooting started in 1991? People were estimating thousands of deaths and a lot heavier air losses, while the A-10 hadn't been battle tested and wasn't very well respected, even within the military.

We really scared ourselves with how easily we won, and part of that easy victory is because of the untested A-10's ability to decimate ground targets on a scale never before seen from a plane of that size. And even though the air defenses had been bombed before the A-10 went in, they still had to deal with heavier fire than the Mujahadeen generally threw at a Su-25. Although I will give the Su-25 credit for being in a war zone a lot longer than the Warthogs were in Desert Storm. If the Su-25 had been in desert storm for a few months instead of Afghanistan for 8 years, their losses would probably be much lighter.

A-10's can take incredible amounts of fire and still fly. Some even lose one of their engines and just continue on the second. The pictures of damaged A-10s that still completed their missions are amazing.

It's a shame the US won't sell Sri Lanka one of the oldest models of Warthogs. Even the 1980's prototypes would be major upgrades to the SLAF's combat potential.

TomCat said...

E.T. Bailey,

Very true, I'm not putting down the A10, and we are not fighting the 4th biggest army, and we don't have money to buy really good weapons like the A10. The closest thing to the A10 that SLAF can buy is the SU25. and unlike the Mujahadeen, LTTE is not getting US support.

Rajaratasurfer said...

How old are the Air Frames for the SLAF package ?

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