Once again the Syrian Air War is the testbed for the most recent Russian Air Force weapons system. This time is the turn of the MiG-29SMT.
The Russian Air Force has deployed some MiG-29SMT multirole combat aircraft to Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, in western Syria, the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed on Sept. 13, 2017.
It’s the first time the modernized version of the baseline Fulcrum jet is deployed to take part in the Syrian Air War.
The MiG-29SMT is an upgraded variant of the MiG-29 featuring a big 950-litre spine CFT (Conformal Fuel Tank) and an in-flight refueling system on the left hand side of the cockpit: it is equipped with a “glass cockpit” with two MFI-10-6M displays and IKSh-1M HUD (Head-Up Display). With a maximum range of 1,800 km (3,000 with three drop tanks), it can carry guided air-to-surface weapons.
According to “Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1” by Piotr Butowski published by Harpia Publishing, one of the most authoritative sources on Russian military aircraft and helicopters today, besides the baseline Fulcrum loadout, the MiG-29SMT can carry two R-27T medium-range IR-guided air-to-air missiles or two extended-range R-27ER/ET AAMs, or up to six RVV-AE AAMs. Air-to-ground weapons include two Kh-29T/L, up to four Kh-25M, or two Kh-31A7P missiles, or up to four KAB-500 guided bombs. The first images emerging from Syria show at least one aircraft with two unguided FAB-500s.
The Russian Air Force plans to operate a fleet of 44 MIG-29SMT fighters: 28 were returned from Algeria (that ordered the aircraft in February 2006 and broke the contract after 16 were delivered because they claimed that the airframes were not brand new – these, according to Butowski were acquired by the Russian MoD and delivered to a fighter regiment in Kursk-Khalino beginning in February 2009) and another batch (whose complete delivery status is not known) of 16 aircraft ordered in 2014 and due to delivery by the end of 2016.
The video below shows the MiG-29SMTs in Syria for the very first time.
Anyway, the deployment of the upgraded Fulcrum is worth of note: it represents the latest of a long series of Russian advanced “hardware” put to test in the Syrian theater.
Top image credit: Russian MoD