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By the late 1970s Western analysts had identified a new fighter under developement for the Soviet Air Force. Since its first sighting at the Ramenskoye test range in 1977, when it got unofficially dubbed with the rather tentative and anonymous RAM-L designation, the Fulcrum has been one of the key aircraft on the military aviation scene. The twin-finned air superiority fighter, now known as the MiG-29, first flew in 1977 and entered service with Soviet fighter regiments in 1983.

The MiG-29 is one of the best-in-class jet fighters of the fourth generation. The MiG-29 was designed for air superiority in the combat zone and at a small distance from the front and is designed to combat enemy aircraft, covering troops and logistical facilities from air strikes, combat aerial reconnaissance of the enemy day and night, and adverse weather conditions. In addition to the destruction of air targets at medium and small distances, including on the background of the earth, it can also affect the movable and stationary land and sea targets.

The MiG-29 is superior in many respects their foreign counterparts (F-16, F / A-18, "Mirage" 2000). The high thrust-to-weight ratio, excellent aerodynamics allow rapid acceleration, high rate of climb, small radius bends, large angular rotation speed, the ability to maneuver with large long-term congestion. The aircraft can effectively lead an active maneuver battle with guns, rocket vserakursny fight at close and medium ranges, shock intercepts and intelligence aircraft, including low-flying on the background of the Earth. MiG-29 - designed for the long term. First flew 20 years ago and it still remains the best fighter in the world in its class. Moreover, the latest modifications of the MiG-29SM, first shown at the air show in Paris in 1995, is now fully multi-role fighters, equipped with high-precision weapons "air-land" his punching power increased three times compared with the previous modifications.

In contrast to the primitive electronics of the MiG-25, the MiG-29 has a radar system comparable to wome Western machines. Like the post-Vietnam generation of US fighters, it was an agile aircraft capable of maneuvering in a dog-fight. The MiG-29 was marketed worldwide and equaled or surpassed the F-15C in several areas. Consequently, the MiG-29 was initially a useful export fot the new Russian Republic, though subsequently it was eclipsed by the larger Su-27.

The MiG-29 is superficially similar in layout to the larger Su-27, and unlike counterpart American fighters which are easily distinguished, a close attention to design details is needed to distinguish the two Russian fighters:

  • The most striking difference is the Su-27's signature centerline fuselage stinger, which protrudes well aft of the engine exhaust, and is entirely absent on the MiG-29, though this feature may not be apparent from all angles.
  • The vertical stabilizers on the MiG-29 are canted outward, while those of the Su-27 are vertical.
  • Conversely, the air intakes on the MiG-29 are canted inward, while the air intakes on the Su-27 are vertical.
  • The Mig-29 fuselage sits entirely above the air intakes, engine pods and exhaust beneath the wings, whereas on the Su-27 there is a distinct droop of the forward fuselage below the upper edges of the air intakes.

Prior to serial production, the 1st flight of the prototype came in 1977, and it was adopted for service in 1982. It is believed that the first Soviet MiG-29 squadron was formed during 1984. By January 1986, MiG-29s were delivered to many military aircraft of the Soviet Union. In early 1999, the MiG-29 SMT received the certificate of the Russian Air Force, which allows starting work on the conversion of the MiG-29 Russian Air Force combat units, to carry out their aircraft to foreign customers to begin mass production.

The MiG-29 is a widely exported aircraft, flown by Iraq, Iran, North Korea, India, Syria, Cuba and Afghanistan. By early 1993, MAPE has built more than 1000 MiG-29, of which over 500 were a part of the Russian Air Force. Other aircraft were delivered to CIS countries as well as Bulgaria, Germany, India, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Poland, Romania, Syria, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

The US Department of Defense of the United States of America and the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Moldova reached an agreement to implement the Cooperative Threat Reduction accord signed on June 23, 1997, in Moldova. The Pentagon pounced on the planes after learning Iran had inspected the jets and expressed an interest in adding them to their inventory. Although Iran already flew the less-capable Fulcrum A, it doesn't own any of the more advanced C-models. Of the 21 Fulcrums the United States bought, 14 are the frontline Fulcrum C's, which contain an active radar jammer in its spine, six older A's and one B-model two-seat trainer. This agreement authorized the United States Government to purchase nuclear-capable MiG-29 fighter planes from the Government of Moldova.

This was a joint effort by both Governments to ensure that these dual-use military weapons do not fall into the hands of rogue states. From Oct. 20 to Nov. 2, 1997, loadmasters and aerial port experts squeezed two MiGs apiece, sans wings and tails, into the cargo holds of C-17 Globemaster III transports from Charleston Air Force Base, SC. The Charleston airlifters delivered the MiGs to the National Air Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio. If NATO can discover how the Fulcrum works, Air Force pilots might gain an edge if they faced the Fulcrum in future combat.

After the German reunification in October 1990, East German MiGs were integrated into the Luftwaffe. During service with German Luftwaffe, Germany and its allies the possibility to compare the MiG-29 like never before. It soon turned out that claims of the MiG-29 being superior to Western fighter jets in some areas were right for example the dogfight capability and manoeuvrability, especially at slow speed. The manually controlled MiG-29 demonstrated a 28/sec turn rate, which even beat the fly by wire F-16 Block 50 (26/sec). But the MiG-29 had limited fuel capacity, thirsty engines, and no inflight refueling probe. The NATO findings were an important source of improvement for Mikoyan OKB, to further improve the MiG-29.

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