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Russian MiG-35 flights will begin in January
March 25, 2017
Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum-F. Photo credit: United Aircraft Corporation

Russian MiG-35 flights will begin in January

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, announced that the Russian Air Force’s (VVS) Mikoyan MiG-35 will begin its test flights this January.

Rogozin made the statement during a visit to one of Almaz-Antey’s subsidiaries (MKB Fakel).

The MiG-35 is the latest version of the MiG-29M/M2, the current production model of the Fulcrum, which has been among the Russian aviation industry’s leading exports.

Equipped with an updated onboard electronics suite, including an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, the MiG-35 is being marketed as a very capable, but cost-effective, multi-role fighter.

With limited orders on the docket for the VVS (i.e. 37 planes), Moscow is steering the MiG-35 for primarily the export market, especially the developing world, which is expected to require an affordable platform configured with modern subsystems and weapons.

The MiG-35 is scheduled to become operational before the end of 2020.

Notes & Comments:

Originally, the MiG-35’s Zhuk-AE AESA radar was to be accompanied by the Elettronica ELT/568(v2) self-protection EW/ECM pod and Thales TopOwl-F (formerly designated TopSight) helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S) system. It is not clear to what extent these systems will be offered considering the tension between Moscow and its counterparts in Western Europe.

However, large customers should be able to undertake the integration work domestically. India, Egypt, Algeria, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam should be considered as Moscow’s leading candidates for the MiG-35. These countries will have limited trouble accessing the subsystems originally marketed for the MiG-35, and in some cases (e.g. India), can integrate these systems (and others) themselves.

Although the MiG-35 could be a relatively affordable fighter, its comparative costs (versus low-cost combat aircraft) will still be high for most developing world air forces. Central Europe and the Balkans are, largely, out of the question as well, especially as many seek greater interoperability with (if not join) NATO – thus predisposing them to surplus Western fighters, such as the F-16.

  • Halz

    It may be a good option for Iran as well

    • Syed Arbab Shah

      Considering Iran’s threat perception especially from stealth fighters, J 31 is the best option they have right now.

  • Sami Shahid

    We better buy MIG-35

  • Steve

    Sami has been advocating this fighter for a while now. The key point is if there will be less resistance from the Russians to sell this to us compared to Su-35. It looks good on paper, though India also flies Mig-29 which is essentially an older version, and know it well. They will of course start screaming and shouting if Pakistan gets even one bullet. May use it for 3 naval squadrons though Su-35 is better, depending upon range and armaments, may get a Klub variant 😉

  • mazhar

    Any Russian jets at this time looks a remote option, Indians will cry very hard and will do anything to stop this acquisition. MIG-35 with thrust vectoring can be a very good option, now it has AESA which SU35 lacks at this point. I don’t know if it’s our economic restraints which are not allowing us to go for SU-35 or MIG-35, or it’s Indian cries. Moscow has been conveyed several times about our interest in SU-35/37 but there has been no positive response so far. I am putting 100% blame on our economy.

    • Steve

      We could always go back to America and ask to buy F16 Block 50/52. They refused the subsidy not the planes. A lot cheaper re infrastructure and familiarity, and overall a lot better deal than Russian jets. India’s plans to ‘transfer’ an assembly line are just hot air, but be prepared for Indians digging up the wicket and screaming like maniacs. We are buying AH-1Z why not this. The new administration and congress may be influenced by a sensible representation helping them tangibly with something they want like a peace deal in Afghanistan. Now that we have operationalised CPEC they must know we don’t really need the USA, and that gives us some leverage.

      • Abdul Rashid

        100% agree, Steve. There is absolutely no reason for ISPR to fake this launch. No credible evidence to contradict the claim has been offered by those who doubt. The colour is the same. Even based on the greyish image of Pak media it takes a good stretch of imagination to call it a fake. It can clearly be seen the footage is a touch blurry taken from some distance while the later clips are clearer and close up.

      • mazhar

        Steve, first of all in current scenario, US can’t be trusted. Let see if we pay them and with any new law they can block the sale and hold the money, just like they did in the past ($600m were kept and returned in wheat after several years). Mood in Washington is not in our favor, CPEC has a lot to do with it. If we can pay for Risky F-16s, why not we pay for SU-35 or MIG-35. Thrust vectoring is the main quality where I put more weight on. In Indo-Pak air combat, dog fight can’t be ruled out and India has edge over us due to a large fleet of SU-30. We should pursue either of these planes(SU-35 or MIG-35) if we can.

      • mazhar

        US has not stopped AH-1Z yet, but I still have doubts about it. Further adding into it, US knows that Z-10, MI-35 and some what T-129s are readily available, so they may let it through. We should get away from this curse of subsidized weapons, we have paid more with our national interests than the subsidy offered to us. Plus there are restrictions where to use these weapons. We should diversify, if money is there, we should look towards Europe too.

  • augustine

    Pakistani government, military top brass, defence enthusiasts, can consider these:

    ◼ You need to make a bold stand and not allow India to dictate what Pakistan buys, let the seller nations make that decision, not India.

    Else, Pakistan will end up running around in circles like paranoid.

    ◼ Afraid of MiG-35 and Su-35 because India will cry to Russia.

    ◼ Afraid of F-16 Viper because India will cry to USA as Lockheed seeks to make the jets in India.

    ◼ Afraid of Gripen E because India will cry to Sweden because of same reason.

    ◼ Afraid of Rafale because India will cry to France.

    Does India own the world?

    With the above fears the only options left for PAF may be:

    ◼ Eurofighter Typhoon, very expensive and becoming obsolescent because its design is dated, came late into service. Britain is unpredictable if you buy their weapons, beware of sanctions due to NATO influence.

    ◼ Chinese stealth jets, not ready yet. Stealth jets are very expensive to deploy as you need large numbers for availability rotation, long maintainance hours per flight will ground most of your fleet for days while a war is ongoing.

    Anti-stealth radar development can possibly make stealth jets a waste of money in the very near future. Italy is working on sound detector anti-stealth radar, Russia on low frequency anti-stealth, China on quantum matter detector anti-stealth. Russia is making progress and anti-stealth discourages their earlier plans to build a large stealth fighter jet fleet.

    ◼ Which platform is PAF’s frontline fighter jet? Those current F-16s?

    Has PAF sat down to analyse which is superior, PAF F-16 with old school pulse doppler radar and 4th gen medium range AAM and incoming PAF JF-17 Block III with AESA radar and 5th gen long range AAM ?

    People often forget what makes a fighter jet win air to air combat, people seem to rate aircraft by platform name, combat history and which country manufactures them.

    ◼ India is going to have a renewed border confrontation with China in that same old disputed territory this 2017, may not lead to war, but will confront each other again. India will focus less on fighting Pakistan for some years. That is a mystery and I wont say how I got to know it will happen.

    ◼ China distracting India will shift attention and size of deployment away from Pakistan for next few years.

    ◼ The above gives PAF time to improve on JF-17 Block III and make it 4+ gen platform. Then think of what jets to add from Russia, China, EU, or USA as capabilities booster.

    ◼ Simulate war game in 2017, PAF JF-17 with AESA and IRST vs PAF F-16 with pulse doppler, see which jet scores a kill. Then go back to strategize, maybe cheap long range SAM for airspace denial is what is needed to counter Indian air threats rather than a 4++ or 5th gen fighter aircraft.

    • Steve

      Nice summary thanks. What you are saying has merit. Unfortunately there are no cheap long range SAMs and PAF do conduct DACT regularly in house and with other air forces. We need $$$ for 100 good 4++ and 40 stealth and 40 long range maritime. Need mostly money. Nobody sells easily if all you ask for is subsidy and long term loans. I agree we should work to minimise Indian spoilers to deals.

    • Gus, DC USA

      Well said, India is not worried and has very limited focus on Pakistan. Whereas for India major worry is China, so this is a vicious circle and will continue. India can not be limited to South Asia as it has a bigger adversary who is not friendly on ground for India.,

      • Shakeel

        India can flex its muscles as much as it likes. The crux of the matter is that India is fixated with Pakistan. Those who claim that India is trying to contain a bigger adversary such as China are living in a fools paradise. Two way trade between the two nations is growing year on year, and there is element of consensus between
        India & China to develop together economically. For India, Pakistan will
        remain the eternal enemy. all else is mere pomp & show. Mere power
        projections, do not transform India to a global power overnight.

        India is currently limiting Pakistan’s procurement choices, whilst it gives the Pakistani policy makers the excuse to appease their domestic audiences by saying we tried to purchase a big ticket item only to be thwarted by India. The real picture is not as black & white.

      • Steve

        Why did India make such a huge fuss when USA was going to sell us only 8 F16’s. Why did they embarrass themselves in BRICs by insisting Pakistan be ‘isolated’ and ended up with egg on their face when nobody else listened. Your assertion is not matched by well known facts.

    • bill

      Well written, however I want to differ with u on few points.
      1- Russia not full concentrating on stealth jet because they are facing problems in manufacturing fully stealthy platform as well as in Aesa tech. Further if we look at US stealth platforms then we have to consider them on following basis.

      1= Stealth do not make a jet invisible yet difficult to detect or target at useful longer ranges.

      2- Even if US jets are detected even then they have superior offence and defense capabilities.

      3. The US and Russia have superior ECM/ESM air born platforms which make them superior to other world countries.

      One the other hand PAF though have tested or checked various platforms yet not considered either om basis of attached strings or mainly financial issues.

      The most viable option for Pak is to go for J31 duly armed with PL15, WVR HOBS missiles meanwhile only integration required form third country shall be a HMDS may be Top owl. These will be if inducted may be in limited numbers due to costs and handling constraints yet will give PAF a chance to sneak through superior Indian AD and attack ground targets.

      For A to A role PAF should get JF17 block III with frontal stealth, better engine, IRST and AESA. Better to have AESA with IRSt from Italy i.e Vixen 1000 reportedly has much better range than Chinese developed AESA. In order to negate any possible sanctions should go for JV in medium to longer term.

  • Khan

    As there were rumors that paf is looking for old eurofighters, are these gets not a good option as compare to old eurofighters?

    • Steve

      Who is selling old Eurofighters? Most nations flying them have minimum numbers and won’t sell..

  • Funding is always an issue, but in the case of Italy’s Typhoons, there are other factors at play too.

    For example, the Tranche 1 units aren’t modern by emerging standards, so a bespoke upgrade would have been required to bring them up to par for the future. The PAF would be liable for all of it. On top of that, it’s not clear how good the supply channel for the Tranche 1 actually is considering it relies on a distributed supply channel involving one or two manufacturers who are going to shutter their plants for 12-18 months. It’s a complex situation.

    • Steve

      Unless our civilian economy improves a lot we will never have top of the line fighters. Corruption is literally destroying the country,

  • SP

    I think the workhorse of the PAF fleet has to be JF-17 and heavy cavalry should be J-16. Pakistan cannot operate diverse range of platforms or but from unreliable sources in particular the West.

    Like armies fight the previous war, the Pakistani obsession with western aircrafts is no longer relevant today the east has made great advances in technology and will continue to do so.

    • I wouldn’t even bank on the J-16. The PAF’s future might just be next-generation JF-17s (i.e. with new engines, lighter airframe, etc) and FC-31. Imagine: common engine, common core EW, ECM and AESA radar platform, same weapons, etc.

      • SP

        The FC-31 is just next generation JF-17 or F-16. There is no point in having 2 aircrafts effectively fulfilling the same role in falling under the same category. Pakistan needs a heavier strike aircraft in which category it is lacking.

        • The FC-31 is markedly bigger than the JF-17: 8,000 kg payload vs. 3,000 kg; 10-12 hardpoints vs. 7, etc. Assuming AVIC does well in terms of internal fuel and engine efficiency, which seems to be the case, the FC-31 is a solid medium-to-heavy platform.

          The F-16 is a robust medium-weight platform in its own right, but if AVIC’s messaging on the FC-31 comes to fruition, the FC-31 will emerge as a solid relative heavy in the PAF. There are few combat fighters that are much heavier than the FC-31, e.g. the J-20 (not available), the Su-34 (not available), F-15E/SE (not available), Rafale (no), etc.

          The Sino-Flanker is attractive, but I’m not sure how much more one would get from them in comparison to the FC-31. Yes, the Flankers will have more range, that could be true, but the PAF’s strike objectives basically hover on stand-off range engagement. Unless offensive air-interdiction and deep-strike are on the cards, which is unlikely since that would necessitate resources to dismantle India’s air defence (not happening), a true strike heavy is not that relevant.

          • SP

            The JF-17 with more composite airframe and a new engine could increase its payload. With some modifications to the airframe and wings it could increase hardpoints. There the difference between could be narrowed with future blocks.

            Pakistans war doctorine if offensive defence. It means we have to take the fight to India rather than wait to be invaded. This requires deep strike fighters with big range. Its unlikely these aircrafts will ever be used but it will add an additional dimension for Indian war planners to take into account and make them think twice. Deep strike aircrafts could also be very useful for maritime role.

          • The best case analogue to a next-generation JF-17 (i.e. with new engine, composite materials, etc) is the Gripen NG, which gives 10 hardpoints and a MTOW increase of 2,000 kg. Meaning, the net payload gain isn’t going to be more than 1,000 kg. So a JF-17 NG with 9-10 hardpoints and 3,500 kg is still much smaller than the FC-31, and I don’t see how much more one is going to be able expand a fundamentally lightweight aircraft without basically designing a completely new medium-weight fighter.

            Regarding Pakistan’s offensive doctrine. We need to understand what this doctrine is before determining the details. It is offensive, yes, but the principal methods for now and into the foreseeable future are stand-off range weapons (SOW), e.g. glide bombs and cruise missiles. The purpose of these SOWs is to strike into India from within Pakistan’s territory. The rationale for this that it is very dangerous to enter Indian territory – i.e. batteries of high-performance fighters and medium-to-long range air defence assets – so the PAF will attempt to attack India’s northwest using SOWs west of the border.

            The current cap for air-launched SOW is 350 km (i.e. Ra’ad ALCM), so Pakistan’s next steps will likely involve extending the range of its SOW inventory to the 1,000+ km range. It’ll strike using those and try to stop India from gaining footholds in Pakistan via using JF-17, F-16, and another platform in a defensive sense.

            To do what you’re asking for necessitates 100-150 ‘deep-strike’ multi-role fighters and a few more medium-weight fighters to offer support, be it as escorts or to undertake strike while the heavier fighters take up air superiority. Basically, a fleet of 100 J-16s will need as many or a few more F-16s and J-10s. IHS Jane’s said the PAF was seeking 30-40 twin-engine fighters, but the primary purpose is to provide defensive top cover (for the JF-17s and F-16s) and to bolster the maritime element – i.e. specialist needs.

            The closest opportunity the PAF will get to build a semblance of ‘deep-strike’ is with the FC-31. As noted earlier, there are scarcely few other platforms available with heavier payload and longer range. The FC-31 is essentially a medium-to-heavy platform, and the internal storage will bode well for the offensive element. It isn’t as heavy or long-range as the F-15 et. al, but it is the fighter the PAF can consolidate multiple needs into and actually build a sizable enough fleet to spare for offensive operations into India and to bolster the maritime front.

            If you line up the numbers, there isn’t a decisive enough gap between AVIC’s FC-31 promise and the J-11 et. al.

          • SP

            From what I gather the 25% increase in thrust of Gripen NG according to you increases MTOW by 2000kg. The fuel capacity of NG is also increased by 35% and I am not sure if that is has an affect on MTOW. There is no additional gain in MTOW from composites in the case of NG, and NG may be slightly larger plane.

            JF-17 with increased thrust, and use of composites should be able to achieve greater increase in MTOW than Gripen as Gripen is already using composites.

            The F-16 also started off as a light weight fighter but ended up becoming a medium weight fighter as more demands were placed on it. I am sure that the same would happen with the JF-17 and it would eventually end up becoming a medium weight fighter.

          • My mistake, the MTOW increase is 2,500 kg, specs can be found and compared from Saab:

            Gripen C/D – 14,000 kg: http://saab.com/air/gripen-fighter-system/gripen/gripen-cd/
            Gripen NG – 16,500 kg: http://saab.com/globalassets/commercial/air/gripen-fighter-system/gripen-ng/technical-brochure-gripen-ng-english-ver.2-jan-2015_low.pdf

            Sure, the JF-17 can be upgraded to a relatively high level, but I don’t see how those upgrades would fetch anywhere near 8,000 kg in payload, which is roughly the payload of the Flanker series. I don’t think a JF-17 higher inter-generational pay-offs than the Gripen NG is going to change the reality of how close the FC-31 is to the heavyweight fighter, especially for the PAF, which will largely emphasis weapons carriage over range, which is the biggest question mark with the FC-31 at this stage.

  • fapple fapple

    I’m afraid I believe that based upon the charming nature of Indian media and how strongly they influence the gullible masses into blaming Pakistan for economic troubles, separatist movements and terrorist incidents (although Pakistan can be credited partly for the last point). I for one do wish to see another superpower emerge to potentially shrink the power gap in the political world, perhaps even India, but not while it’s led by closet fascists.

    • Gus, DC USA

      The people whom you call are fascist is basically media tag on them. They are the only one who can deliver lasting peace with Pakistan, and I am hopeful of that.

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