Tag Archives: Mikoyan MiG-29

Yet another iconic Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber has crashed. Is the Russian Air Force falling apart?

It’s the second crash in less than two months.

On Jul. 14, at 09.50 Moscow Time, a Tu-95 bomber crashed in an uninhabited area 80 km from Khabarovsk.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the aircraft was conducting a training mission and it was unarmed. All the crew left the aircraft uninjured.

Newsworthy, this is the second incident in little more than one month: on Jun. 9, a Tu-95 skidded off the runway at Ukrainka airbase, in the Amur region, in an incident that resulted in the death of one crew member.

Following the incident, all the Tu-95 fleet was grounded: a flight ban lifted few days ago and “celebrated” on Jul. 4 with missions over the Pacific that caused the interception of four Bears by two F-15s and two F-22s in two different episodes.

It’s unclear if the Bears will be grounded again. Surely, the latest mishap might be the sign that some quite old Russian warplanes, used to intimidate NATO allies all around the world, are being pushed to their limits, as some reports have highlighted.

Along with the two Tu-95s, the most recent Russian crashes include a Su-24 Fencer, two Mig-29 Fulcrums and a modern Su-34 Fullback.

Image credit: Sergey Kustov / Wiki

 

This Is What It’s Like to Fly to the Edge of Space in a MiG-29 Fulcrum

GoPro cameras bring you aboard a Mig-29 Fulcrum during a flight to the Edge of Space.

Ever wondered what flying one of the most famous Russian warplanes at supersonic speed and so high (between 17 and 22 km) that you can clearly see the curvature of Earth?

The video below will give you a hint.

It was produced by MigFlug, a company that offers fighter jet flying experiences in wide variety of aircraft in Russia, Europe and North America, during a Edge of Space mission with their MiG-29 Fulcrum.

Edge of Space Flight I

Interestingly, the video was shot by a famous aviation video producer, Artur Sarkysian, who attached a GoPro cameras to the two-seater Mig-29UB’s outer surfaces in such a way they could withstand speed up to 2450 km/h and a load factor of 9g!

Edge of Space Flight II

From several different points of view you can watch one of the most famous Soviet-era jet (still serving in Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Poland, Syria and Iran, among the others) fly at supersonic speed and high altitude, maneuver, perform aerobatics and land.

Edge of Space Flight V

The video was produced over a time of 6 months. But the results are stunning.

Edge of Space

Here below you can watch the whole video. Enjoy!

 

Polish Air Force to form a new F-16 Viper Demo team. And here’s the jets livery

The New Tiger Paint Scheme For Polish Air Force F-16s Is Going To Be the Livery Of  Poland’s Viper Demonstration Team!

Polish Air Force’s Tiger Squadron – 6th Fighter Squadron based in Krzesiny, near Poznan – is going to be involved in the NATO Tiger Meet exercise in Turkey, scheduled to take place at Konya airbase, between May 4. and 15.

According to the Polish media outlet Lotnicza Polska, 2 out of 6 jets taking part in the exercise received special color schemes.

Besides the NATO Tiger Meet Exercise, the Krzesinian pilots would also be involved in the Greek Squadron Exchange event (between June and July) and in the Israeli Blue Flag Exercise, planned in November.

Notably, the Polish Vipers have been painted, not covered with a film-overlay. It seems that the Bydgoszcz-based Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze No. 2 (Military Aviation Works) facility has already acquired a proper technology needed to cover the body of the jets with lacquered paint scheme. Now, due to the new cover there is no risk that the special paint scheme would disappear. Quoting Piotr Rutkowski, a representative of the facility, Lotnicza Polska claims that plans to create the new paint scheme for the F-16s date back to 2014. However, at that time, the paints needed to create the scheme could not be exported from the US due to legal restrictions.

More than the paint scheme what is really interesting of the story published by Lotnicza Polska outlet is the final paragraph, according to which, the Polish F-16 Demo Team will finally be created. The demo-pilot is apparently involved in the training activities.

According to unofficial information obtained two months ago by The Aviationist, from a source closely tied with the Krzesiny AB, the Polish Viper demo is going to be similar in shape to the Viper Team West of the USAF.

Our source suggested that the show is going to involve two examples of the F-16. It has been also said that flares may not be a part of the display, since the countermeasures used by the Polish Vipers have a too long burning-time. Noteworthy, the new display team will retain the Tiger livery that will make its debut in Turkey.

The above development is particularly interesting also for PR reasons. So far, the only appearance the Polish F-16 has made during air shows was in a form of a flypast – this created some doubts among the public opinion – a lot of people claimed that Polish Vipers are not combat-capable and that they are lagging behind the MiG-29, that regularly performs dynamic displays at airshows around Europe.

Even though the Fulcrum is an older jet – its capabilities are much less advanced than those of the F-16 Block 52+ jets – the Polish Vipers have often suffered from some bad PR , especially among the public who has no in-depth expertise in aviation. The general audience reasoned that there must be something wrong with the new Polish fighters, since they were not flying dynamic displays at airshow.

The debut of the new Viper team is probably going to take place during the Radom Air Show. We are planning to attend the show and provide you with a report.

Image Credit: WZL no. 2

 

Here’s why the MiG-29 could defeat the best western fighters in close air combat, despite its limitations

Conceived to fill the technological gap between Russian and U.S. fighters, the MiG-29 has been one of the last cutting edge fighters produced by the then Soviet Union.

The Fulcrum was sold in large numbers to former Warsaw Pact air forces to replace their ageing MiG-23 Floggers and twenty four of them were also delivered to East Germany. The East German Jagdgeschwader (JG) 3 took delivery of its first MiG-29 in 1988, and on Oct. 4, 1990, the Wing operated 24 Fulcrums, equipping two squadrons.

A follow-on batch was on order, but the aircraft were never delivered.  After the end of the Cold War and following the re-unification of Germany, the Luftwaffe inherited some of these fighters making them as much “NATO-compatible” as possible.

Among the pilots that amassed experience at the controls of the Luftwaffe Fulcrums, there was the Oberstleutenant (the Luftwaffe rank equal to Lieutenant Colonel) Johann Koeck who, after flying the F-4 Phantom, became commander of the only Luftwaffe MiG-29 squadron.

Here is what Koeck recalls in Jon Lake’s book “How to fly and fight in the MiG-29 (Jane’s At the Controls)”:

“With the re-unification JG 3 became Evaluation Wing 29 on 1 April 1991. On 25 July 1991 the decision was taken to keep the aircraft and integrate them into the NATO air defense structure. JG73 was activated in June 1993, and the MiG-29s assumed a National (Day Only) QRA(l) commitment over the former East Germany. The MiG-29s moved to Laage in December 1993 and on 1 February 1994 the unit gained a NATO QRA(l) commitment.”

Being an experienced Fulcrum driver, Koeck can tell which were the weak and the strength points of the MiG-29.

The most obvious limitation of the MiG-29 was the aircraft’s limited internal fuel capacity of 3,500 kg (4,400 kg with a centerline tank). The MiG-29  had no air-to-air refueling capability, and its external tank was both speed and maneuver limited.

If a mission started with 4400 kg of fuel, start-up, taxy and take off took 400 kg, 1,000 kg were required for diversion to an alternate airfield 50 nm away, and 500 kg for the engagement, including one minute in afterburner, leaving only 2,500 kg of fuel.

Koeck explains that “If we need 15 minutes on station at 420 kts that requires another 1000 kg, leaving 1500 kg for transit. At FL 200 (20,000 ft) that gives us a radius of 150 nm, and at FL 100 (10,000 ft) we have a radius of only 100 nm.”

The Fulcrum’s limited range conditioned also how the aircraft could perform a specific mission: in fact the MiG-29s didn’t possess the range to conduct HVAA (High Value Airborne Asset) attack missions, and they were effectively limited from crossing the FLOT (Front Line of Own Troops).

This limited station time and lack of air-to-air refueling capability ruled the MiG-29s out of meaningful air defense missions.

Another limitation of the aircraft was its radar that, as Koeck explained, was at least a generation behind the AN/APG-65, and was not line-repairable: if a MiG-29 experienced a radar problem, the aircraft went back into the hangar.

The radar had a poor display, giving poor situational awareness, and this was compounded by the cockpit ergonomics. The radar had reliability and lookdown/shootdown problems, hence  its poor discrimination between targets flying in formation, and moreover it couldn’t lock onto the target in trail, only onto the lead.  

Mig-29 GAF air-to-air

Due to these limitations the integration in the NATO environments of the Luftwaffe MiG-29s was really hard and restricted to only few roles: as adversary threat aircraft for air combat training, for point defense, and as wing (but not lead) in Mixed Fighter Force Operations.

Nevertheless the onboard systems were still too limited, especially the radar, the radar warning receiver, and the navigation system. These restrictions brought to several problems that the Fulcrum pilots faced in tactical scenarios, such as a  poor presentation of the radar information (which led to poor situational awareness and identification problems), a short BVR weapons range and a bad navigation system.

But despite all these limitations, once the furball started, the Fulcrum was the perfect fighter to fly. In fact thanks to its superb aerodynamics and helmet mounted sight, the MiG-29 was an exceptional fighter for close-in combat, even compared to aircraft like the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18.

As Koeck recalls “Inside ten nautical miles I’m hard to defeat, and with the IRST, helmet sight and ‘Archer’ (which is the NATO designation for the R-73 missile) I can’t be beaten. Even against the latest Block 50 F-16s the MiG-29 is virtually invulnerable in the close-in scenario. On one occasion I remember the F-16s did score some kills eventually, but only after taking 18 ‘Archers’ (Just as we might seldom have got close-in if they used their AMRAAMs BVR!) They couldn’t believe it at the debrief, they got up and left the room!”

Moreover with a 28 deg/sec instantaneous turn rate (compared to the Block 50 F-16’s 26 deg) the MiG-29 could out-turn them: in fact the Fulcrum retained an edge over its adversaries thanks to its unmatched agility which was reached combining an advanced aerodynamics with an old-fashioned mechanical control system.

After one of the German Fulcrums was sold for evaluations to the U.S. in 1991, the remaining 22 MiG-29s served until 2003, when they were sold to Polish Air Force for the symbolic sum of 1 Euro each.

Those Mig-29s were then upgraded and they currently provide Baltic Air Policing duties against the Russian threat in northern Europe.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Stunning Photographs of the Polish Mig-29s and Italian Typhoons of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing

Amazing shots of the NATO interceptors over Lithuania

The photos in this post were taken over Lithuania, at the beginning of February, thanks to a cooperation between the Lithuanian Air Force, Polish Air Force and the Italian Aeronautica Militare.

Typhoon front view

Taken by photographers gathered around the Foto Poork portal, the images are really unique as they show the jets carrying live missiles (including the Italian Typhoons at their first NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation) right before the sunset, a mixture which has yielded spectacular results. Notably, one of the shots features the Polish Fulcrum flown by a very well-known Polish MiG-29 pilot Grzegorz “Iceman” Czubski, with the afterburners lit, which is simply stunning.

Mig-29 afterburners

In a conversation with The Aviationist, Filip Modrzejewski who is the editor-in-chief of the foto.poork website, said that the organization of an air-to-air photo-shoot is quite challenging. First of all, the track needs to be placed at a proper altitude, and it needs to be planned in detail, which would make it possible to achieve high level of safety. Second, the weather conditions need also to be taken into account – since photography is very much weather-dependent.

Typhoon formation

Pre-flight briefing is equally important – during such shoots there is no place for spontaneous maneuvers – both the photoship (Lithuanian C-27J Spartan in this case) and the fighters need to know exactly what flight-path will be used. Formation flying skills are equally important.

AP8R1094

Safety of the pilots is one thing – safety of the photographers should also be taken into equation. Each of the photographers uses a special safety harness, in order not to fall out of the photoship during the shoot. When it comes to the photo-taking process itself – it may be challenging due to the fact that people on board may be subjected to g-forces.

Mig-29 sunset turn

Camera batteries are also an issue here, due to the low temperatures. It is not recommended for the photographers to switch the lenses or memory cards during the flight, for safety reasons.

Mig-29 sunset

Here’s a backstage photo, depicting the tough work conditions on board of the Spartan.

Backstage

Fortunately, the mission was flawless and the results, amazing!

Image credit: Foto Poork