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    India to Purchase 21 Russian MiG-29 Jets to Improve Air Combat Strength - Report

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    A top-level Indian Air Force (IAF) team visited a Russian facility to check the MiG-29 fighter jets; later, it submitted a favourable report to IAF Headquarters, according to the news portal Print.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): India has started formal negotiations with Russia for the purchase of at least 21 MiG-29 fighter jets to bolster the ageing fleet of the world's fourth-largest air force. These fighter jets will be upgraded in accordance with Indian Air Force requirements.

    "The price offered by the Russians is good. Even though they were built at the same time we bought the earlier MiG-29 squadrons, they have never flown," The Print quoted an IAF source as saying.

    India currently has three squadrons of MiG-29 twin-engine single-seat air superiority fighter aircraft. In March 2008 Russia's RAC-MiG signed a $964 million contract with India's Ministry of Defence for the modernisation of 62 MiG-29 fighters (54 fighters and 8 trainers).

    The Russian side has agreed to upgrade the 21 aircraft to the standard of the ones upgraded so far, a source cited by The Print noted.

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    IAF's upgraded MiG-29 (MiG-29UPG) aircraft are analogues of Russian MiG-29SMT revisions. The upgraded aircraft features improved multi-role capability, with the enhanced use of air-to-air and air-to-ground high-precision weapons and increased combat range, owing to an increase in its internal fuel capacity.

    The aircraft's weapon suite includes Vympel RVV-AE (R-77) air-to-air active radar homing missiles and air-to-surface precision-guided munitions, such as Kh-29T general-purpose TV-homing missiles, Kh-31A anti-ship active radar-homing missiles, Kh-31P anti-radiation missiles, KAB-500Kr TV-homing smart bombs, etc.

    The MiG-29UPG is powered by 2 Klimov RD-33 series 3 turbofan engines. Russia in 2007 licensed Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture 120 of the engines for the upgrade program. The upgraded engines feature 7% more power in comparison to the baseline model due to the usage of modern materials on the cooled blades, and provides a thrust of 9,000 kgf. The engines are smokeless and feature reduced infrared visibility.

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    Currently, the IAF relies on a variety of Soviet-era and Russian aircraft, as well as some French Dassault Mirages and UK/France SEPECAT Jaguar warplanes. A parliamentary panel on defence had suggested that a squadron strength of 42 (18-20 fighter jets in a squadron) would be needed to fight a two-front war with Pakistan and China simultaneously. However, the present scenario indicates that even if all existing orders for 36 Rafale jets, six squadrons of Tejas (including the Tejas Mark 1A) and two more squadrons of Su30 MKI are taken into account, the squadron strength will remain below 30, even by the year 2032.

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    defence, air force, MiG-29, India, Russia
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