Tuesday, August 18, 2009
MiG-35, brief review
Looking on the long discussions on Bharat-Rakshak Indian military forum I felt the need to make some short review about MiG-35. As usually I use only open source information in my post. It is from different on-line or off-line sources, Russian and foreign.
Sometimes the contradicting sentences are seen about this plane:
1) The aircraft has an old-fashion plane, way older, than any other MMRCA tender contenders except F-16. So it's at the end of its life, cannot be kept modernized in next 20-30 years.
2) The aircraft is a 'paper plane'. So, its capability is totally uncertain and a purchasing would be accompanied with high risk.
- Obvious, the first rules out the second and vice versa. However, both conclusions are wrong. I hardly can say the true lies between them too. In fact, MiG-29/MiG-35 family airframe design was started after first serial F-16 and F-18 prototypes look light and then their capabilities were well known to Russian engineers. So, MiG-29 is designed with these rivals in mind. F-18 and F-15 have had airframe evolving too, became F/A-18F/E and F-16 blocks 52/60 variants with different airframe and better overall capabilities. MiG-35 - is a next Russian step and in certain degree an answer to the last American variants of 4th generation tactical attack aircrafts. Indeed, MiG-35 is very mature 4th gen. fighter (MiG-29) with a big improvement.
- Historically MiGs – are the greatest enemy of the American fighters. Absolutely ALL American planes, lost to East Block in conflict over Korea, Vietnam and China in air fighting were hit by MiGs. It's thousands of planes… Therefore, the hate to MiGs is very explicable in Anglo-Saxon states. It would be just naturally if the Americans see MiG as the most probably air rival, and any step in their fighting aircraft development is made with MiGs in mind.
Now MiG-29 family includes the number of serial and prospective jets. MiG-29SMT – is the most simple and chip variant, made with soviet-time spare up-worked airframes with slightly modernized RD-33 ser.3 engine and slotted array Zhuk-ME radar. The other sensors and avionics are up to consumer choice. A number of countries (Yemen, Algeria) have already purchased this model, but the existence of soviet-made parts on the planes was inevitable, - something that leaves client unsatisfied (Algeria).
Although currently produced for Indian Navy MiG-29K ('9-41') and two-sitter MiG-29KUB ('9-47') fighters – have the same name and same aerodynamics as those MiG-29Ks ('9-31') initially offered for Russian fleet, their airframe technology is totally different. There is no (as many mistakably thought) light beryllium-aluminum alloys. Instead, there is use of composites (15% of aircraft surface area).
The reworked MiG-29M ('9-61') MiG-29M2 ('9-67') line has airframe on MiG-29K/KUB ('9-41' – '9-47') basis and almost the same weapon and avionics. It could be worth to define briefly the main differences between classic line of MiG-29 on one hand and both MiG-29K/KUB & MiG-29M/M2 on the other:
- The latest has 15-20% composite airframe,
- Slightly bigger wings and ailerons, new wingspan is 11,99 m against 11,36 m.
- Bigger horizontal stabilizers and rudders,
- Wider spine with bigger internal fuel tanks, 1.5 time more fuel.
- Bigger additional fuel tank is allowed (grow from 1520 l to 2150 l)
- Higher load, (4500 --> 5500 kg )
- Antiradar coating,
- Higher trust engines RD-33MK (2x8300 --> 2x9000 kg on afterburner), with longer MTBO/MTBF (2000 --> 4000 hours)
-Reduced infrared emission of the engines,
- Smokeless burner
- FADEC full control system for engines
- Longer life of airframe. Growing up from 2500 fly hours or 20 years rised to 5000 f/h or 30 years.
- Higher number of loading points (9 instead of 6) and heavier weight is allowed for new more heavy missiles.
- Dorsal air intake inlets are removed, fuel tank is installed instead.
- Inlet defense system is installed (grids).
- Totally redesigned canopy
- Service improvement , on-condition maintenance, fuel economy with 2.5 times reducing of flight-hour cost.
- Refueling capacity
- Open architecture of avionics
- Anti-corrosive defense of a naval aircraft level.
For MiG-35 however further improvements are made.
- MiG-35 has no dorsal air brake (rudders are used instead),
- 11 points of load instead of 9
- 6500 kg max load instead of 5500
- Difference in chassis
- Airframe life 5000 -->6000 hours or 40 years
- AESA radar
- Missiles warning system
- Broader weapon spectrum (+3M-14, 3M-54, KAB-1500)
- Advanced IRST
- Trust vectoring engine
- Better avionics
The most important specs of MiG-35 (two-sitter MiG-35D) are as follow:
Normal take-off mass --- 17,500 (17,800) kg
Maximal --- 23,500 kg
Max. landing mass ---16,800 kg
Internal fuel --- 4,800 kg
Max. load --- 6,500 kg
- low 1,400 km/h
- high 2,100
Gmax --- 9.0
- internal fuel ---2,000 (1,700) km
- 3 external tanks ---3,000 (2,700) km
- 3 e.t. + 1 refueling ---6,000 (5,700) km
Take-off strip --- 550 m
Landing strip --- 600 m
Engines --- 2x RD-33MK
Power 2x 9,000 kg on afterburner
MiG-35 has improved aerodynamic with sharp LERX, wider nose con for more powerful radar option, bigger cage with better ergonomics, absence of upper air-intakes for garbage defense on taking-of, with special unclose grids instead.
New 3-chennal fly-by-wire KSU-961 system with 4-time signal doubling. It's made on the basis of MiG-29K/KUB's FBW KSU-941 system and provides controllability of flying in all modes including super- maneuvering on over-critical AoA too. It provides automatic refueling in the fly as well.
The new big-blocks technology of welding is using on MiG-35. The use of composites is higher than with MiG-29K/KUB.The airframe life resource is 6,000 h or 40 years comparing to 2,500 h or 20 years on serial soviet MiG-29 and MiG-29SMT.
Improved aerodynamic and mechanization of the wings, higher wing area. Generally it's similar to MiG-29K wing but without folding. 11 load points allow 6,500 kg of load. No dorsal air-brake (as a variant).
The chassis is longer, and then the plane is sitting in more straight position than classic MiG-29.
The internal fuel capacity is raised as 1.5 times on MiG-35 and achieves 4,800 kg. New load points allow up to 5 external fuel tanks. The capacity of the central one was raised from 1520 to 2150 liters. However, the two-sitting MiG-35D variant lacks one internal fuel tank with 630 liter of capacity.
Under-pylon refueling PAZ-MK kit turns the plane into reciprocal refueler.
MiG-35/35D has two RD-33MK Klimov's engines with maximal thrust on afterburner 9,000 kgf, on maximal dry – 5,400 kgf. The life resource of this engine (4,000 h) was raised significantly comparing to standard RD-33 ser. 3 (2,500 h) which is used on Russian and Indian MiG-29's and which technology is already transferring to India. The time before overall is 1000 h. If a customer wants, MiG-35 may be equipped with Klimov's RD-33MKV engine with all-aspect thrust vectoring nozzles. It was over all testing on the board of MiG-29M-OVT №156.
RD-33MK has FADEC 'BARK-42' and both are produced in serial for MiG-29K/KUB Indian Navy fighters. Modifications with higher thrust and resource are under development in 'Klimov Gas-Turbine Design' house.
The new gear system KSA-33M and turbo-starter VK-100 are developed for this plane by 'Klimov'.
Radar and avionics
Open architecture MiL-STD-1553B bus is used. HOTAS control. Zhuk-AE AESA radar (was described before ).
MiG-35 has 5th generation OLS-UEM FLIR – for frontal hemisphere searching and OLS-K (in conformal container under the right inlet) – for searching in bottom hemisphere. The manufacturer: NIIPP (Moscow).
IR, TV and laser range finder
Angle of searching
Horizontal -- +-90 grad
Vertical -- +60 - -15 grad.
Head-on target detection – 15 km
Detection on chase - 45 km
Laser range finder - 15 km
IR, TV, laser range-finder and laser spot finder.
Max. range of detection
Tank - 20 km
Fast boat - 40 km
Laser range finder, max distance - 20 km
Spotting targets - yes
Mass 110 kg
As a more cheap option, the 4th generation UOMZ's KOLS-13SM FLIR together with Sapsan-E laser pod are offered.
Missile Aproach Warning (MAW) system includes two modules for bottom and upper hemispheres. Developer: NIIPP.
Mass - 9.5 kg
Range of detection, max :
air-to-air missiles - 30 km
ground based AAMs --50 km
shoulder AAMs -10 km
Radar warning system L-150 (TsKB 'Avtomatika', Omsk) has 4 stations on the wing flaps and vertical fins margins.
The enemy laser detection kit can detect an enemy laser on up to 30 km distance. The laser wave is - 1.06 – 1.57 micrometers. Developer: NIIPP. Its mass is 800 g, including two sensors on wing flaps.
Active EW kit: SAP-518 or KS-418. Developer: KNIRTI (Kaluga). It has high frequency emitters inside the wings and tail and medium frequency emitter under the left wing. As an option, the Italian 'Elettronnica S.p.A ELT/568(V)2 EW system is offered for Indian MMRCA tender. Other foreign or Indian EW systems could be adopted on MiG-35 too.
Passive decoys system.
'Black box' registration system 'Karat-B-35' is offered for foreign customers of MiG-35.
SVR-23M1K video registration system is installed.
The weapon outcome control system 'Trenage-29' is offered with MiG-35 too.
Thales' 'Topsight' HMDS is offered in a first line. It's similar to that on serial Indian MiG-29K's. The Russian 5th generation HMDS is under development by NPO 'Geofizika'.
The display configuration does repeat MiG-29K/KUB. MiG-29K cage has 3 6x8 inches displays, wide angle on glass indication panel. The second pilot cage on MiG-35D has 4 displays. The resolution and display refresh rate are higher than MFI-10-7 1024x768 pixels displays on MiG-29K/KUB board.
The navigation system is PrNK-35 of RPKB with inertial and satellite GPS-GLONASS navigation subsystems.
A number of Indian systems could be installed as well, according to what Indian customer wishes (if yes).
- RVVE-AE medial range active homing AAMs.
- R-73E close combat AAMs
- 80mm and 122 mm unguided rockets kits
- Kh-29TE and other types of Kh-29 AGMs family
- KAB-500 and KAB-1500 family guided bombs.
- other 100 – 500 kg bombs of different types
- long range air-to-surface missiles of 'Club' family (3M-14AE, 3M-54AE1, 3M-54AE)
- Supersonic anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles of Kh-31 family.
- Subsonic net-centric anti-ship Kh-31 'Uran' missiles.
- 30 mm GSh-301 auto cannon.
Life cycle cost
The service of MiG-35 is executed by condition, with condition assessment each 1000 flight hours up to max. 6000 hours of life (or 40 years of service).
For comparison classic MiG-29 has only 2500 hours of life resource (or 20 years). Periodic routine service each 100 fly hours (1 year) is needed. Order works are each 200 f.h. (24 months). Plant MLU is needed on 800 and 1500 f.h. (9 and 17 years of service).
With all the amortization in consideration the flight hour cost of MiG-35 is as 2.5 times cheaper than for classic MiG-29!
There is an old calculation from the middle of 90th, for classic MiG-29's in Eastern Europe. Then the flight hour cost was $3000 for MiG-29 and $2000 for F-16 - it's without amortization cost.
In 1994 – 1996 a new MiG-29's price was as $25 000 000. F-16's price was $18 600 000. MiG-29's airframe life was – 2,500 hours, or $10 000 for 1 hour. F-16's airframe life was – 8,000 hours, or $2,325 for hour. Mig-29's RD-33 engine of old serials has life of 800 hours, wile F-16's engine of that time has 2000 hours life. So, with all the life cycle expenditure the difference in flight hour cost between two planes was much higher: $15 500 for MiG-29 and about $5 900 for F-16! Even after the dollar/ruble parity has changed the prices very significant, single-engine F-16 remain to be more attractive in terms of lifecycle cost against classic MiG-29. With new MiG-35 coming, this advantage is going to totally diminish.