Representational image of an IAF MiG-29 | Photo: Wikipedia
Representational image of an IAF MiG-29 | Photo: Wikipedia
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New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to place an order with Russia for 21 twin-engine MiG-29 jets by December, ThePrint has learnt. 

Of the 1980s vintage, the jets are no longer in production but 21 airframes built then remain in Russia. Top sources in the security and defence establishment said the jets purchased by India will be upgraded to the latest version before they arrive here. 

The purchase comes as the IAF faces a depleting force strength due to its fleet of legacy aircraft and budgetary constraints.

The IAF, the sources said, will first place orders for the MiG-29, and then go in for another 12 Su-30 MKI, which are being manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under licence from Russia.

The IAF is also expected to soon place a long-pending order for the indigenous 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mark 1A.

“We have completed the discussions with Russia. We are getting the MiG-29s at a very good price. We will soon finalise it. The order for the 12 additional Su-30 MKI will be placed with HAL after this,” a source said, refusing to get into the pricing details.

India and Russia have been in talks for the purchase of more MiG-29 jets since last year.

The Mig-29 airframes have been lying with Moscow since the late 1980s but have never been flown. The sources said a study conducted on the airframes had found them in good condition.

“The airframes are in good quality. They will now fit all the equipment and other systems as part of the deal,” the source quoted above said.


Also Read: IAF gets night-flying capability at Leh for MiG-29s, force sees it as a ‘game-changer’


Dwindling numbers

The decision to purchase the aircraft comes amid a dwindling fighter aircraft strength in the IAF and budgetary constraints that make it difficult for the force to get new aircraft in the numbers it wants.

While the sanctioned strength of the IAF is 42 squadrons of fighters, the current strength is 30.

At his annual press conference Monday, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria said even if all acquisition plans are put in motion with strict timelines, he would be happy if the strength reaches 36-37 squadrons in the next decade.

He was also very candid about the challenge of budgetary constraints, saying their effect may not be felt immediately but will be in the future.

“Budgetary constraints will be there. It is not affecting us today. It will have an effect in due course if we don’t put the contracts in place,” he had said.

India currently has three squadrons of the MiG-29 — a twin-engine single-seat air superiority fighter aircraft. One squadron comprises 18 aircraft and all of them are currently being upgraded in-house by the IAF.

The aircraft is undergoing structural as well as avionics upgrade, besides being equipped with a new weapons package.

With the new air-to-air refuelling feature, an upgraded MiG-29 can cover larger distances compared to the previous aircraft, something the IAF is keen on, keeping in mind the possibility of a two-front war scenario.

The upgraded MiG-29s have all the latest features, including a glass cockpit with digital screens.

The upgraded aircraft can also do air-to-ground, air-to-air and even anti-shipping operations.


Also Read: Defence ministry approves purchase of 33 fighter aircraft for IAF, 248 indigenous missiles


 

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11 COMMENTS

  1. IAF cannot fight two front war against PAF & PLAAF…………………………………..period. It is the disastrous Kashmir policy of Modi that has put IAF in this quagmire !!!

    • Yes… Even I believe that current crisis on planet is because Trump/Obama decided to let McDonald serve burger with fries. Period !

      Genghis Khan

  2. IAF strength should have 42 squadron where as presently we have 33. In order to fulfil the deficit iaf trying its best to manage its fleet with 21 no mig 29 and 12 no SU 30 MKI from Russia. It is clear that for two front war we have to face a lot of problem therefore IAF must opt for USA made F21 or F15X which will be turning point for IAF to fight with its enemies.

    • The real problem is one of numbers and unless you give it 8-10 years you cannot recover back to the old strength of 42 squadrons, even if the USA is the supplier. None of the advanced planes can be made at a rate better than 8-15 a year. That limits all our military’s ambitions , no matter what provocations CHina / Pak may throw at us. With our squadron strength, we can play an effective defensive role due to our pilot superiority, but not more than that.

  3. Surprisingly despite a emergency situation the MOD has till date not been able to release the purchase orders for Sukhois and more mig29’s. This displays their competence despite the defence minister
    himself pursuing to augment & secure the supplies .It displays the rot in the system .

  4. INDIA IS INCLUDED WITH RUSSIA FOR IAF FIGHTING SOURCE CODE OF CONDUCT AT REASONABLE PRICES. I JUST WANT A NEW BUSINESS THAT INDIA AND PAKISTAN TENSION IS BELONG LIEU.

  5. INDIA IS INCLUDED WITH RUSSIA FOR IAF FIGHTING SOURCE CODE OF CONDUCT AT REASONABLE PRICES. I JUST WANT A NEW BUSINESS THAT INDIA AND PAKISTAN TENSION IS BELONG LIEU.

  6. Lets remember that upgrades and testing takes a lot of time. We can expect some partial supplies only in 6-8 months time. These orders were being discussed in April – May and we are nearing the end of the year.

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