The Russian Mikoyan MiG-35 (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum-F) will soon become Russia’s sole light fighter aircraft, according to Russian Aerospace Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev.
“Some time will pass and we’ll replace the entire light fighter element precisely with this class,” he said.
According to their RAC MiG test pilots, their first sortie was successful and “all systems worked normally”.
The MiG-35 is a 4++-generation multirole fighter jet based on the MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 and was first introduced at the Aero India 2007 air show in Bangalore.
One of the main features of the MiG-35 is the ability to use laser-guided ordnance such as the KBL-500L laser-guided bomb, and the KBL-500T TV-guided bombs. Both are packed with 500 kg of explosives.
Capable of delivering more than 7,000 kg of ordnance on 9 hard points and equipped with a 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds, the MiG-35 can deliver a solid punch.
Its hard points can host a variety of weaponry such as air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, rockets and bombs making it a very good multirole fighter aircraft.
According to Bondarev: “It is capable of engaging in super-maneuverable air fights and strike targets both at sea and in the air. We’ll always have the best aerodynamics. We had some gaps in the work on engines but we have proved with the development of the Su-30SM and Su-34 aircraft that we have the best engines.”
Russia is also considering exporting the MiG-35 to India under the term of its “Make in India” industrial strategy. Ultimately, that could fill the gap for the Indian Air Force who has recently stated they are looking for a new light fighter aircraft. The Lockheed Martin F-16 and Saab Gripen E are likely candidates to replace the Indian light fighter jets as well.
China, Vietnam and Peru could also be potential customers for the new 4++-generation multirole fighter aircraft, according to Flight Global. Representatives from the four countries attended a show where the MiG-35 was displayed.
Presently, Russia intends to acquire an initial batch of up to 37 MiG-35s. Delivery should be expected to start in 2018. Bondarev, however, stated that “Within some time we shall replace all light fighter aircraft with this type.”