Russia to upgrade IAF’s MiG-29 combat jets

March 7th, 2008 - 10:33 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) The long-delayed upgrade of the Indian Air Force’s MiG-29 jets is set to get underway with its manufacturer RAC-MiG inking a deal with the Indian defence ministry in Moscow Friday, the company said. The upgrade, which will cost some $850 million, will convert the MiG-29 from an aerial interceptor and air dominance jet to a fighter-bomber capable of striking mobile and stationary targets on the ground and at sea with high-precision weapons under all weather conditions.

The agreement also includes the transfer of technology to India for the manufacture of the RD-33 series-3 engines that power the MiG-29.

“The upgrade will include a top-notch avionics suite that is a feature of the ship-borne MiG-29K/KUB fighters being produced for the Indian Navy. The overhaul and retrofitting of the aircraft will extend their service life to 3,500 flight hours and 40 years,” a company statement said.

The first six of the IAF’s 65-odd MiG-29s will be upgraded and flight-tested in Russia. The modification of the remaining jets will be carried out in India with kits supplied by RAC-MiG.

The aircraft’s onboard data and sighting systems will be completely updated with the installation of the state-of-the-art Zhuk-ME multifunctional radar, an advanced onboard computing complex, a new weapon control system, an optronic station based on space technologies and colour multifunctional displays in the cockpit.

The new avionics suite will include a number of up-to-date systems developed and produced by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, as also some foreign companies.

The armament upgrade will include the installation of modern weaponry like smart bombs and substantially improved air-to-air missiles and high-accuracy guided missiles to destroy ground and sea targets.

The contract includes an offsets clause under which 30 percent of the deal will be reinvested in India.

“As part of the offsets, RAC-MiG will set up consignment depots and service centres for the fighters, service centres specializing in maintaining and repairing the Zhuk family of radars, and simulator centres equipped with top-notch training aids,” the company statement said.

“The MiG-29 was always a superlative fighter. With the upgrade, it will have unmatched capabilities,” the statement quoted Air Marshal (retd) Harish Masand, who commanded the IAF’s first MiG-29 squadron that was raised in 1986, as saying.

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