Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum – Vicious and Versatile

 
A MiG-29AS of the Slovak Air Force. By KGyST CC BY-SA 3.0
A MiG-29AS of the Slovak Air Force. By KGyST CC BY-SA 3.0
 
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The Mikoyan MiG-29 is nicknamed “Fulcrum” by NATO. This jet fighter is the result of almost two decades’ worth of aeronautic advances in the Soviet Union/Russia. The MiG-29 is an aircraft that’s ahead of its kind, with superior twin-engine technology. Its aeronautic machinery is far superior to its predecessors like the F-14 Tomcat, the Dassault Mirage 2000, and the F/A-18 Hornet.

The MiG-29 is capable of nimble maneuvers and has a high-quality thrust-to-weight ratio. It is a seamless response to fighter-bomber aircraft that’s Western-made. The aircraft officially flew into service in 1982, and revisions have continually been made to meet the threats of modern day aircraft.

The first Mikoyan MiG-29 was publicly displayed on July 2, 1986, when the Soviet Union showcased the aircraft in Finland. In September 1988, two more were displayed at an airshow in Britain.

MiG 29 at MAKS Airshow 2015. By Dmitry Terekhov CC BY-SA 2.0
MiG 29 at MAKS Airshow 2015. By Dmitry Terekhov CC BY-SA 2.0

Here are some key things to know about the Mikoyan MIG-29:

Aircraft specifications

  • Height: 4.73 m (15 feet 6 inches)
  • Length: 17.32 m (57 feet)
  • Speed: 1,520 mph, 2,450 km/h, Mach 2.3
  • Ceiling: 17,000 m (60,000 feet)
  • Wingspan: 11.36 m (37 feet 4 inches)
  • Range: 1,770 km (1,100 miles)
  • Takeoff Weight (max): 18,480kg (40,741 lbs)
  • Crew Capacity: 1
  • Unit Cost: New – $29 million, Used – $4.96 million (subject to ITAR restrictions)
MiG-29 & MiG-29U. By Dmitry Terekhov CC BY-SA 2.0
MiG-29 & MiG-29U. By Dmitry Terekhov CC BY-SA 2.0

Demonstrated air structure

It was during the collapse of the Soviet Union that the Russian Federation opened up sales to several countries. These countries included Iran, Iraq, India, and Syria. During the Iran-Iraq War, the Fulcrum was used in active combat by the Iraqi Air Force. It was there that the MiG-29 proved its ability to withstand major threats occurring both in the air and on the ground.

For the Russian Air Force, they conducted heavy upgrades on the MiG-29. It is said that the design also influenced the MiG-35, the fifth generation of multi-role air fighters.

Bangladesh Air Force MiG-29s. By Faisal Karma CC BY-SA 2.0
Bangladesh Air Force MiG-29s. By Faisal Karma CC BY-SA 2.0

Up-to-date technology

A variant type of the Mikoyan MiG-29 was exhibited at an airshow in 2006. This new type introduced the engine nozzle with its 3D thrust-vectoring feature. This feature is commonly seen in many fifth-generation fighter-bomber aircraft like the F-22 Raptor and the American F-35 Lightning II.

These added thrust-vectoring jets allow for an astounding number of possibilities for maneuvering and air-to-air combat. Along with the vessel’s exceptional engineering, the pilot manning the aircraft can both engage and disengage air targets skillfully. This version of the MiG-29, given the name MiG-29M OVT, is marketed to customers with the MiG-35.

MiG-35D taking off. By Carlos Menendez San Juan CC BY-SA 2.0
MiG-35D taking off. By Carlos Menendez San Juan CC BY-SA 2.0

Ammunition capacity

One of the notable advantages of the MiG-29 is the capacity to launch missiles that can strike enemy targets in the air even if those targets are outside the line of sight. With this firepower, the enhanced MiG-29s can be tagged as one of the most deadly aircraft against other countries that are still utilizing outdated fighters. One example of this involves an older fighter, the F-16, and an incident during the Kargil War in 1999.

During an overt operation called “Safed Sagar,” the Indian Air Force’s new MiG-29Ms had successfully intercepted Pakistani F-16Cs along the Kashmir border. These fighters not only managed to escort their Mirage 2000s to intended areas but at the same time they also successfully dodged and locked in on the F-16s before those planes were even in range.

Control panel of Polish-modernized MiG-29, with multirole display on the right. By Jacek Karczmarz CC BY-SA 4.0
Control panel of Polish-modernized MiG-29, with multirole display on the right. By Jacek Karczmarz CC BY-SA 4.0

Nuclear Contribution

Aside from being equipped for air-to-air warfare, MiG-29s are also able to carry nuclear orders. However, the aircraft’s platform is still not ideal for long-range transport, although it can deliver medium-ranged attacks. Its maximum payload for take-off is lower than 10,000 pounds (almost 4,526 kilos) and the fuel capacity is significantly lower than other types.

This aircraft is ideal for strikes that are precise rather than for the transfer of bulk orders. Nevertheless, the MiG-29 is still preferred for both bomber and fighter use. It all depends on the regional air forces’ needs.

Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29s in August 2017. By Адміністрація Президента України CC BY 4.0
Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29s in August 2017. By Адміністрація Президента України CC BY 4.0

Fleet’s Legacy

Due to its robust capabilities, the Russian Airforce is still using the older variants of the Mikoyan MiG-29. It is reported that 600 MiG-29s are still in active service as of 2011. However, many of these planes will be updated to the latest variant, known as the MiG-29SMT, which features new and improved engine power.

A Polish Air Force MiG-29 with a USAF F-16.
A Polish Air Force MiG-29 with a USAF F-16.

Read another story from us: 60 Years in the Air – The MiG-21 in 27 PHOTOS

Further engine upgrades allow for significant afterburner thrust and payload changes prolonging it’s lifespan as significant aerial threat.

 
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