New Radar, On-board Computer Proposed in Elbit’s Upgrade of Ukrainian MiG-29 Jets

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Israeli company Elbit Systems has received from its country permission modernize Ukrainian MiG-29 fighters.

The need for such a permit for Elbit Systems was sought by the Ukrainian side to ensure the responsibility of the main integrator of the new systems on board the aircraft, Ukrainian publication DefenseExpress reported.

The key upgrade will be the installation of a new radar with capabilities for detecting targets in the air and on the ground and control of guided weapons; new on-board computer and a number of other systems.

The upgrades and improvements must guarantee the interaction between the new radar and the computer with the existing arsenal of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons that Ukraine has and is developing. For example, the algorithms for controlling the main weapon of the MiG-29, the radar guided “air-to-air” medium range R-27 missile – are a question where Elbit Systems has no legal competencies. (Since the original manufacturers of the MiG-29 and the R-27 are Russian, the source code lies with them).

“The Elbit Systems proposals really allow us to make a qualitative leap in increasing the combat capabilities of the MiG-29,” Ukrainian defence authorities were quoted as saying to the publication.

Ukrainian companies will also be participation in the deep modernization in cooperation with Elbit Systems on this project.

This means that the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and Elbit Systems will continue negotiations on this project, relying on greater opportunities for cooperation, which the Israeli company is ready to demonstrate, the report said after conversations with Ukrainian MoD officials.

The project with Elbit Systems is considered to be superior to the upgrades of the MiG-29MU2 which involves improving the engine, avionics, satellite navigation system and the radar.

An upgraded MiG-29MU2 (upgraded by a local plant) was recently released which would increase its remaining service life to 12 years from the earlier 8.

If the MiG-29 MU1 variant had a total of about five improvements to avionics devices and other equipment, the second modernization variant has a total of about 10 innovations implemented by the developers. If the coefficient of combat potential (KBP) of the base model MiG-29 was equal to one, then the KBP of the fighter in the Ukrainian version of the MU2 reaches 1.7.

Previously, the MiG-29 could work only unguided missiles against ground target. In the MU2 variant, the machine has acquired the characteristics of a multi-role fighter with the possibility of combat use on ground targets.

The MiG-29MU2 is also equipped with VOR, ILS, DME systems – on-board equipment, which allows you to automatically control the landing of the aircraft and perform flights on international routes. All information will be displayed on the multifunction indicator in the cockpit.

According to preliminary negotiations with Elbit Systems, which took place in 2019, it was about the modernization of a pair of 11 MiG-29 fighters. At the same time, according to preliminary estimates, the cost of upgrading each aircraft will be about $ 40 million.