Russia is all set to strike a “big military deal” with India. A top official of Russian fighter jet-manufacturing firm MiG has confirmed the news, saying that they want to supply the latest version of MiG-35s to the South Asian country.
Ilya Tarasenko, the Director General of Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG, recently said that they were discussing the issue with the Indian Air Force (IAF). He claimed that the MiG-35 was “the best” and far better than Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation combat aircraft F-35. According to Tarasenko, the MiG-35 can easily beat the American jet in air-to-air combat.
MiG Corporation and the IAF enjoy a successful long-term relationship. India has been using various types of MiG fighter jets for nearly 50 years. Currently, the IAF has MiG-21s, MiG-27s and MiG-29s in its arsenal. In fact, India was the first country to get the offer to acquire those jets and there is no exception in case of MiG-35.
MiG-35 is the most advanced 4++ generation multipurpose fighter jet developed on the basis of the serial-produced MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft. The previous generation MiG jets were called the “Fourth Generation Fighter” and the current generation fighters are called “Fifth Generation Fighter”. Although MiG-35 is more modern and powerful than Fourth Generation fighters, experts are not ready to accept it as Fifth Generation jet due to technical reasons. That’s why the MiG-35 fighter has been given the 4++ status.
Regardless of what the technical terminology is, there are very few fighters that have the ability to compete with MiG-35. Technically, US-made F-35 is a Fifth Generation fighter. But, 4++ MiG-35 is deadlier than F-35. Also, the cost of MiG-35 will be at least 20-25% cheaper than that of F-35 because of its 4++ status.
Tarasenko explained that MiG-35, the light weight aircraft, is basically a multi-functional jet, saying that it is efficient not only in air supremacy (holding complete control of air warfare and air power over opposing forces), but also in conducting a detailed surveillance from the sky. According to the MiG boss, the jet has all the highly advanced features, as it’s loaded with the advanced quality of weapons for air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea usage, new airframe, fly-by-wire, glass cockpit (adapted for night vision goggles) and new powerful engines. Apart from 30mm cannon, the MiG-35 can carry high off-boresight missiles, like AA-11 Archer, on nine hard points, thus, posing a lethal threat to modern Western fighter jets.
Tarasenko informed the press that the most noteworthy improvement of MiG-35 is its ZHUK-MA AESA (Active Electronic Scanned Array) radar technology. At the time of battle, pilots are at great risk during switching on their active radars because their signal can alert enemy pilots. However, AESA radar of MiG-35 has the capability of electronic jamming. As the Jet comes with an improved feature of smokeless RD-33MKB engines, it will also be difficult for enemies to track MiG-35 within visual range.
The Russian manufacturer introduced the latest version of MiG-35 in January 2017. Since then, the MiG Corporation has been holding talks with the IAF. When asked about has India shown any interest in MiG-35, Tarasenko said: “Of course, they have.” “We are in the negotiation stage of technical and technological specifications that MiG can present to India and Indian requirements for this aircraft. The negotiations on exactly what India needs and adjust the product to it, will take some time as the MiG-35 is a very new plane,” he added.