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MiG-35 / MiG-29M OVT / Fulcrum F - Design

The MiG-35, an export version of the MiG-29M OVT (Fulcrum F), is a highly maneuverable single-seat fighter air superiority fighter. Although the MiG-35's design is similar to that of the MiG-29, the new fighter has increased the internal fuel load by 50%, and the ordnance load by over 100%. Unlike the MiG-29, the MiG-35 is now classed as a medium-weight aircraft because its maximum take-off weight has increased by 30%. Drop tanks and a mid-air refuelling system allow it to fly long-range combat missions.

The MiG-29 and MiG-29M warplanes are classed as "fourth-generation" and "generation four-plus" fighters. The MiG-35 is spoken of as a "transitional generation four plus-plus" [ generation 4++ ] warplane. This and other such aircraft in other countries are expected to have a long service life. The fighter's designers believe that it embodies engineering solutions typical of a fifth-generation fighter and is therefore superior to fourth-generation European aircraft.

Advanced technologies have been used in the manufacture of the airframe, the propulsion unit and airborne equipment. The proportion of composite materials in the frame is now as high as 15%. One of the features of MiG-35 is its convertible two-man cockpit, i.e. the fighter jet can be easily transformed from a twin-seat to a single-seat aircraft with an additional fuel tank. Pilot information is displayed on displays. The aircraft is equipped with an in-flight refueling system. For the first time a lightweight aircraft features active phased array radar that considerably enhances the range of possible combat missions and improves the fighter's operational capabilities.

The aircraft has a built-in state-of-the-art optoelectronic system that provides automatic all-round defense of the fighter. Moreover, the optoelectronic system enables the aircraft to detect ground targets and engage them with high-precision weapons. The fighter is equipped with more powerful RD-33MK engines. Their service life is 40 years with a total flying time of 6000 hours. The parameters of the MiG-35 are claimed to make it a completely new aircraft that "comes very close" to fifth-generation fighter jets. At the customer's request, the MiG-35 can be equipped with thrust vectoring engines which make the fighter extremely maneuverable and, in experts' opinion, give it a two-times advantage over any other aircraft in combat.

The MiG-35's specifications and performance match the requirements of the Russian Air Force. Designed to be low-risk and inexpensive, the MiG-35 program is intended to produce more export-oriented versions for foreign customers. The goal of the MiG-35 is to outperform fourth-generation fighters in combat and to be the equal of fifth-generation aircraft [ie, the F-22 and F-35].

MiG-35 designers moved to upgrade the fighter's radio-electronic equipment, while retaining the impressive potential of the MiG-29's aerodynamics. The cooperation between RSK MiG and the Fazotron-NIIR corporation led to the MiG-35 became the first Russian fighter to feature the Zhuk-AE fifth-generation electronic-scan phased-array radar. The Zhuk-AE, which has a longer range than the radars of foreign generation plus-plus fighters, can calculate the exact number and type of enemy targets, and facilitates successful beyond-the-horizon attacks. By increasing the number of its transceiver modules by 50%, the radar's range and target-acquisition parameters can be enhanced considerably.

The Zhuk-AE operates in conjunction with two optronic target acquisition and identification systems featuring infrared and laser channels. They detect, identify and automatically track several targets, calculate their coordinates and provide data to the fire-control system. One optronic system tracks aerial targets, and the other one detects ground and naval targets and also provides navigation data. Optronic devices enable the fighter to escape detection by the enemy, facilitate round-the-clock operations and make it possible to hit visible and beyond-horizon targets. The optronic systems are claimed to have the same potential as those of Western fighters, and can be installed on fifth-generation and generation four plus-plus warplanes.

The MiG-35's defensive systems warn the pilot in case of danger and automatically activate ECM (Electronic Counter-Measures) systems and also launch heat and radar decoys. Moreover, the pilot is notified if the plane is being tracked by enemy radar or targeted by a laser range finder. Another system detects approaching enemy missiles and shows their direction.

The MiG-35 features the RD-33OVT thrust-vector engine that was previously tested on the MiG-29. The Russians rarely fail to advertise the MiG-35's thrust vector control that allows the aircraft to undertake the breathtaking "cobra" manoeuvre. The aircraft stalls in mid-flight, nose at 90 degrees like a cobra ready to strike, and slides backwards. In a real dogfight, such a move can turn the hunted into the hunter. It has intersecting nozzles that can point in any direction, enabling the plane to perform breath-taking stunts. The engine ensures 100% controllability at maximum and zero speeds.

The thrust can be controlled in every direction and, most importantly of all, at every speed between the maximum and very low - up to 200 kilometers per hour and practically zero. The plane can fly with its tail forward and do things conventional aircraft cannot do, i.e. evade a missile attack in a dogfight and at the same time move in for the kill itself. This almost unique characteristic (only some Sukhoi fighters can also do this) is said to allows the MiG-35 to "defeat any enemy in close combat" [though American skeptics would note that American combat aircraft are not in the habit of allowing their adversaries to engage in close combat].

The RD-33 turbojet twin-shaft engine with afterburner was developed in 1985 to power the MiG-29 front-line light fighter. Klimov is the only company in the world that has succeeded in developing a universal omnidirectional jet nozzle. The relevant technology that appeared in the late 90s materialized in the thrust vectoring nozzle for the RD-33 and AL-31F jet engine families.

TVN is still the only mass-produced omnidirectional nozzle in the world. The axisymmetric exhaust unit system with a turning supersonic part of the jet nozzle provides for omnidirectional (360 degrees) deflection of the thrust vector. A TVN-equipped engine of a combat aircraft notably improves its maneuverability at subsonic speeds and supercritical angles of attack. While improving the performance of aircraft, TVN nozzles also enhance safety during takeoff and landing as well as under challenging conditions.

R&D, production, operating and recycling expenses have been reduced considerably. Using computer systems to identify faults and target maintenance and repairs where and when it is needed allows engineers to save time. The plane's airframe, engines and equipment also have a longer service life. The cost of one flying hour has been reduced by more than 50%, and its flying life increased by over 100%.

The MiG-35 achieved a nearly double increase in the internal fuel reserve and combat load. External fuel tanks and an in-flight refueling system (including those of the same type of aircraft) allow it to have a combat radius of action comparable to a heavy class fighter. The maximum take-off weight of the MiG-35 compared with the MiG-29 increased by 30 percent and reached 23.5 tons. At the same time, the designers of the corporation managed to maintain the highest flight performance, as well as implement a number of significant improvements in the design. For example, the bearing properties of the wing are improved and the overall strength of the structure is significantly increased.

The MiG-35 aircraft is equipped with an effective airborne radar station developed by Concern Radioelectronic Technologies JSC. The radar provides tracking of 30 air targets at a distance of up to 160 km and allows to simultaneously hit up to six air and four ground targets. At the same time, the MiG corporation offers potential customers aviation complexes equipped with innovative radars with passive and active phased arrays.

Despite the fact that the MiG-35 belongs to the generation of 4 ++ aircraft, the onboard radio-electronic equipment installed on it is not inferior in its characteristics to that used on foreign fighters of the fifth generation. The newest avionics provides the opportunity to conduct air combat day and night, within and beyond visual visibility. High-performance radar and optical reconnaissance installed on the MiG-35, can detect subtle aerial and ground targets. All this was achieved thanks to the integration of the latest systems in the aircraft, previously used only in the space program.

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Page last modified: 31-12-2018 18:40:54 ZULU