India Interested in Buying MiG-35 Jets: Russian Official

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India is interested in buying the Russian MiG-35 along with the MiG-29 aircraft, a top Russian official said Wednesday.

“Foreign partners are showing interest not only in the options for modernizing the MiG-29, which has been recognized as quite successful, but are also looking at the MiG-35. India is interested in both aircraft,” Andrei Yelchaninov, first deputy chairman of the board of the Military-Industrial Commission said in an interview to Interfax Wednesday.

The Indian delegation were shown Mikoyan MiG-35 & Sukhoi Su-57 aircraft during MAKS 2019 show in Russia’s Zukhovski, when export version of the MiG-35 jet was unveiled. Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilots G/C BS Reddy and W/C FL Roy flew two sorties on MiG-35 4++ generation multirole fighter aircraft during the visit.

Moscow has offered to manufacture MiG-35s jointly with India besides Transfer of Technology (ToT) if New Delhi decides to buy them.

Russia is currently testing the MiG-35, and the MiG-35UB two-seat variant.

India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved procurement of 12 Su-30MKI fighters for $1.44 billion; and 21 MiG-29 jets for $900 million (includes upgrade of 59 MiG-29s) in July. The contract is expected to be finalized soon.

In March 2020, sources had told that Russia was planning to offer upgraded MiG-35 fighter jet equipped with an automatic landing and G-force protection systems as its entry for the Indian light fighter jet competition. The contest to build over jets for India is between Dassault Aviation (Rafale), Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Saab (Gripen), Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia (MiG-35) and Lockheed Martin (F-21).

The upgrade will bring the MiG-35 closer to the features list offered by others in the competition such as the Dassault Rafale and Lockheed Martin F-21.

Russia is open to the idea of integrating additional advanced weapons, local weapons and RD-33OVT engine to provide MiG-35 with super maneuverability to meet the IAF’s requirement. Also included are KRET/Phazotron Zhuk-A active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, modern electro-optics system with distributed apertures, MSP-418KE active jamming pods, IRST and other capabilities borrowed from Russia’s fifth generation fighter program, had reported June last year.

The next generation of MiG-35 jets will use a voice assistant named Rita to help when situations in the air become fraught. “Everything in the new fighter is aimed at helping the pilot. We call her Rita, the voice communicant. In a critical situation, it will direct the pilot in difficult situations,” MiG aircraft corporation test pilot Dmitry Selivanov told Sputnik around six months ago.

The MiG-35 can carry missiles and bombs up to 6,500 kg on its nine hardpoints, and is also armed with the 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon with 150 rounds. Capable of a maximum speed of 2,400 km (over Mach 2), the MiG-35’s range is 2,400 km which can go up to 6,000 km with aerial refuelling. The jet’s combat range is 1,000 km and its service ceiling is 19 km.