New MiG-35 “Fulcrum Foxtrot” Demonstrated For Putin and Foreign Market

MiG-35 Demo is Both Product Debut and Contrast of Russian and Western Doctrine in the F-35 Era.

In a widely publicized event on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (MiG) parented by United Aircraft Corporation officially demonstrated the new MiG-35 to the Russian government. A subsequent demonstration for export customers was carried out today Jan. 27.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is reported to have viewed the first demonstration via remote video due to poor weather in the region.

The new MiG-35 (NATO reporting name: “Fulcrum Foxtrot”) is a greatly upgraded aircraft based on the earlier MiG-29 airframe. Significant upgrades on the MiG-35 include a completely new fly-by-wire flight control system, vastly improved cockpit, substantially upgraded avionics and an overall design philosophy that provides an enhanced degree of operational autonomy on the MiG-35 compared to earlier Russian combat aircraft. The MiG-35 will also integrate precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons, a rarity in previous Russian air-ground doctrine.

The MiG-35 unveiled on Jan. 27, 2017.

There is a significant engine upgrade on the new MiG-35. The aircraft uses two impressive Klimov RD-33OVT engines fitted with bi-directional thrust vectoring nozzles. This contrasts aircraft like the current Russian Su-35 and the U.S. F-22 Raptor that only use single-axis vertical thrust vectoring.

This marks a fascinating departure from previous Soviet-era combat aircraft capabilities while retaining the Russian penchant for lower unit cost in exchange for numerical superiority, a doctrine that has pervaded Russian military thinking for the entire century.

The Russians have always traded unit capability for numerical superiority, relying on the hope that quantity would beat quality in a major conflict. Interestingly, this doctrine has shifted moderately toward a centrist mix of quality and quantity apparently in search of the best solution for indigenous use as well as attracting export buyers.

The new MiG-35 is an example of this shift.

Russia has included significant sensor and capability upgrades on all recent combat aircraft, especially ones intended for the export market. Additionally, the reported domestic production for MiG-35 is only 37 aircraft, a very small acquisition by older Soviet and even modern Russian standards. A larger production capacity is earmarked for export sales, likely in the form of a 50-unit order from Egypt.

Reports indicate the Egyptian MiG-35s are to be fitted with a new advanced targeting pod, the PPK targeting pod from Precision Instrument Systems. The new PPK thermal imager/TV and laser rangefinder allows the MiG-35 to autonomously guide precision munitions similarly to how the current U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle prosecutes ground targets. Previous Russian doctrine relied heavily on ground vectors to attack targets.

Somewhat interestingly, the indigenous MiG-35 is fitted with a Russian NPK-SPP OLS-K electro-optical targeting system. The OLS-K targeting and surveillance system is mounted directly to the aircraft below the right (starboard) fuselage on the engine nacelle in front of the elevators. It is not a removable pod. The OLS-K sensor can track moving vehicles from 20 kilometers and surface contacts at sea for 40 kilometers. An integrated laser rangefinder computes target distance up to 20 kilometers for weapons employment. There is also laser designation for guided weapons built into the pod.

The OLS-K targeting and surveillance system is mounted on the engine nacelle in front of the elevators

The new MiG-35 provides Russia and export customers with a uniquely scaled precision strike capability that may be a better fit for countries with smaller defense budgets. The MiG-35 contrasts aircraft like the larger (and more expensive) Sukhois. If a client’s ground strike requirements involve shorter range in a tactical rather than strategic setting the MiG-35 may be the right size and cost aircraft.

Given recent problems throughout the Middle East and Africa with managing strike accuracy and reducing the exposure to collateral damage from air strikes this may be an important export asset for Russia and its defense industry clients.

Image credit: Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau





About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.


    • Not as good looking as the F-14 or F-15, but certainly looks like it was designed in the 1970s. If it isn’t 5th gen, it’s nothing but a hapless target waiting to be shot down by U.S. 5th gen. The Russians remain 20 – 30 years behind America in aviation technology, and this old airframe proves it. Any updated electronics it has on it are definitely inferior to those found on U.S. and Western fighters.

      Fighting against a MiG-29 with and F-22 or F-35 today would be the same as an F-4 taking on a ME-262. Or maybe I am being too generous. Perhaps it would be the same as an F-4 vs a BF-109. In other words an overmatch and no contest. I say again – the Russian Air Force would be blown from the sky in a fight against the West. Of this I have ZERO doubt! MiG-29/35 is a aero-design dinosaur. You obviously don’t understand modern fighter combat.

      • MiG-35 AESA radar appeared, and now the plane in no way inferior to the F-16.
        F-16, F-15 will be until 2040 in service. MiG-35 will compete with the F-16B on the arms market.
        What is the MiG-35 is now inferior to the F-16?

      • 5th gen. is just a paper statistic, none of U.S. 5th. gen. jet fighters ever proved their superiority over other 4th gen. jet fighters or shot down any aircraft in real combat situation, only during overhyped marketing Red Flag games. God, it even took whole 9 years unless the F-22 got its very first combat mission, but nevertheless not as a fighter but as a bomber. Like they didn’t have any other aircrafts for that role, just lets send Raptors to blow up some rusty ISIS equipment.
        So you should better watch your mounth about what you say and stop making some pointless predictions because in the future the real results can be very surprising for you.

  1. Aesthetically ugly, technologically retrograde. No respectable air force would ever field this fighter. Poor South American and Arab nations would. This is a definitive example of a third-world fighter.

  2. T-34 tanks would probably look like something of a “poor construction quality” to many.. but reality is that it was the most effective on the WW2 battlefield

  3. “The aircraft uses two impressive Klimov RD-33OVT engines fitted with bi-directional thrust vectoring nozzles. This contrasts aircraft like the current Russian Su-35 and the U.S. F-22 Raptor that only use single-axis vertical thrust vectoring.”

    Errr… NO. The Su-35S TV is canted to the vetrical, so can control yaw and roll by differential vectoring. The F-22 is vertical only.

Comments are closed.