Russia will soon finish all testing of the new MiG-35 multirole combat aircraft.
“From the viewpoint of conducting the final tests, we expect that in 2019 we will complete the entire complex of tests,” Ilya Tarasenko, Director General of Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG, said last week, according to Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet.
The first batch of six MiG-35s will also be delivered to the Russian Defense Ministry soon thereafter, Tarasenko added.
Russia has high hopes for the MiG-35 as a successful export, marketing it as a 4++ generation fighter. But it “is essentially an upgrade of the MiG-29KR,” a Russian defense industry source told The National Interest in 2017.
Here’s what it can do.
The final version of the MiG-35 was first shown at Aero India in 2007, and has generally been described as an upgrade to several different MiG-29 variants.
Powered by two Klimov RD-33MKB smokeless engines, the MiG-35 has a top speed of 1,491 mph (nearly Mach 2) and a ceiling of 57,414 feet.
The RD-33 engines make the fighter jet, like the MiG-29, one of the most maneuverable jets in the world. The engines also make it hard to visually track and very capable in close air-to-air dogfights.
The MiG-35 can be armed with Kh-31 anti-ship and anti-radar missiles, as well as different kinds of KAB-500 bombs. It’s also armed with a 30-mm cannon.
But MiG-35s still don’t have active electronically phased radars, which allow the aircraft to track multiple targets at once and remain rather stealthy.
AESA “radars are under development and could possibly be retrofitted into existing MiG-35’s,” Sim Tack, the chief military analyst at Force Analysis and a global fellow at Stratfor, told Business Insider.
“In the future I would expect Russia to push those upgrades heavily if they have the budget for it though,” Tack said, but “the lack of a phased array radar is a really significant drawback when it comes to operational performance.”
The lack of an AESA radar may also hinder the MiG-35s chances of being a successful export, for which the aircraft was mainly designed.
Egypt is the only country thus far to have purchased the MiG-35.
The “MiG-35 is pretty much the Mikoyan design bureau’s last hope for survival given Sukhoi’s overwhelming advantage,” The National Interest’s David Majumdar wrote in January 2017.