At the end of the 1970s, the former Soviet Union was faced with a new generation of NATO-fighters conceived for air superiority. Including the F-15, F-16 and F-18. In response to this changed reality, they order the design agency and aircraft manufacturer Mikoyan-Gurevich to develop an aircraft that could deal with the NATO threat. The result of this order, the MIG-29, entered Soviet service in 1983, followed by other airforces of the Warsaw Pact and elsewhere a few years later. Contrary to the F-16, the Mig-29 has 2 engines instead of one and hydraulic controls rather than fly-by-wire.
While originally oriented towards combat against any enemy aircraft, many MiG-29s have been furnished as multirole fighters capable of performing a number of different operations, and are commonly outfitted to use a range of air-to-surface armaments and precision munitions.
The MiG-29 has been manufactured in several major variants, including the multirole Mikoyan MiG-29M and the navalised Mikoyan MiG-29K; the most advanced member of the family to date is the Mikoyan MiG-35.
Later models frequently feature improved engines, glass cockpits with HOTAS-compatible flight controls, modern radar and IRST sensors, and considerably increased fuel capacity; some aircraft have also been equipped for aerial refuelling.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the militaries of a number of former Soviet republics have continued to operate the MiG-29, the largest of which is the Russian Air Force. The Russian Air Force wanted to upgrade its existing fleet to the modernised MiG-29SMT configuration, but financial difficulties have limited deliveries. The MiG-29 has also been a popular export aircraft; more than 30 nations either operate or have operated the aircraft to date, India being one of the largest export operators of the type. As of 2013, the MiG-29 is in production by Mikoyan, a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) since 2006.
Facts & Figures
Air superiority fighter, multirole fighter
Soviet Union, Russia
6 October 1977
Russian Air Force
Indian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
Yugoslavia Air Force
German Air Force (Former Eastern Germany)
US$11 million (MiG-29B, 1984, 1999)
US$29 million (average cost, 2009)