Tag Archives: Mikoyan MiG-29

Polish Parliamentary National Defense Committee Discusses the Future of the F-16s and Prospects of Acquiring 5th Gen. Jets

Polish Parliamentary Committee on National Defense analyzed the current state of the Polish Air Force’s F-16 fighter fleet, its future, as well as plans related to the M-346 AJTs and JASSM / JASSM-ER missiles.

According to the report issued by Tomasz Dmitruk of the Polish “Dziennik Zbrojny” outlet, on Mar. 22, during the meeting of the Polish Parliamentary Committee on National Defense, Division General Pilot Jan Śliwka, who is also acting as the Deputy Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, presented the Polish Parliament the history and capabilities possessed by the F-16 multi-role jet aircraft, along with an overview of their technical status, maintenance requirements, armament and pilot’s training program. The General has also talked about the missions assigned to the backbone of the Polish Air Force.

The information presented during the event also provided a unique insight into the operations of the aircraft.

7-8 out of 48 jets are currently undergoing maintenance or overhauls – this constitutes 14-17% of the fleet, still leaving around 85% of the aircraft combat-ready. A single F-16 jet can spend 8,000 hours in the air, which means that total lifetime is equal to 384,000 hours (48 aircraft, 8000 hours each).  Based on the report issued by Dmitruk, all of the Jastrząb (Polish Air Force’s name ascribed to the F-16) jets have spent 53,000 hours in the air so far, which amounts up to 14% of the total lifetime.

This means that, should the operational activity of the jets be maintained at the current level, there is still an option to operate the aircraft for the next 30 years.

Last year we have seen the initial steps related to MLU (Mid-Life Update) of the Polish F-16 fighter fleet, as the Tape M6.5 upgrade has been implemented, following the decision to acquire the new AGM-158A JASSM and AGM-158B JASSM-ER cruise missiles, along with new variants of the AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles).

The Polish Air Force is also looking forward to the acquisition of more Mk 82 bombs and JDAM and Paveway conversion kits.

Nonetheless, during the Committee Meeting, Śliwka informed that the Ministry is also analyzing the potential prospects of acquisition of more armament for the fighter jets which could expand their capabilities in specific domains. Notably, throughout the last two years we have witnessed an intensification of operations undertaken by the Polish F-16s with Warsaw’s Vipers deploying to Kuwait to join the air war against ISIS and plans to take part in the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.

One of the priorities for the Polish Air Force is to acquire anti-radiation missiles. Orbital ATK’s AARGM missile has been quite intensively marketed in Poland throughout the past two years, so it may be safely stated that this weapon is a serious contender to becoming the primary SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) armament for the Polish jets. Furthermore, the MoD is also scrutinizing the prospects of acquiring new PGM (Precision Guided Munition) ordnance (including submunition pods to act against tanks and armored assets, as well as penetrating bombs which could be used to neutralize fortifications underground); lastly, the Air Force would also like to integrate the jet with an anti-ship missile.

Prospective procurement of new multi-role jets for the Polish Air Force was the second issue covered during the meeting.

This matter is somewhat urgent, since the Su-22 and MiG-29 aircraft are gradually becoming obsolete, with a prospect of being withdrawn starting from 2024-2025.

Their successor, as Dmitruk reports, shall be selected well ahead of the retirement of the two post-Soviet era jets.

According to General Śliwka, quoted by Dziennik Zbrojny, the requirements for the new multi-role combat aircraft have already been defined by the command, while the Armament Inspectorate (Polish MoD’s procurement body) is dealing with an analysis that is going to be included in a Strategic Defense Review, similar to its recent British counterpart.

The options currently weighted and considered, span from the acquisition of second-hand F-16A/B or C/D aircraft with subsequent upgrade, through procurement of brand new F-16s, to the eventual purchase of 5th Gen. F-35 aircraft.

The early conclusions indicate that procurement and upgrade of the Alpha/Bravo Falcons would lack a proper degree of cost-effectiveness.

After further analysis, and with the context taken into account at the MoD, General Staff and the Armament Inspectorate, Bartosz Kownacki, Polish Deputy Minister of Defence stated that the workload and expenditure entailed would be too high, in relation to potential benefits.

Kownacki noted that even though the price of second-hand aircraft would be at the level of 50% of the price of a new aircraft, the operational lifetime would also be 50% shorter. General Śliwka also mentioned the fact that the case of Romanian F-16 procurement was also looked at, and it turned out that the cost was higher, in comparison with potential acquisition of new aircraft. Hence the MoD might be inclined to go on, and join the F-35 users club, even though this is a longterm prospect plan

Meanwhile, the rumors (which circulated last year) that Poland would be considering selling its jets to Romania, have been once again denied.

During the meeting, the opposition also had a chance to ask questions to the Ministry.

First of the covered issues, raised by the former Deputy Minister of Defence Czesław Mroczek, dealt with the procurement of the M-346 jet-trainers and their compliance with the Polish specifications. Col. Waldemar Bogusławski, Deputy Head at the Armament Inspectorate, answered that the manufacturer confirmed its readiness to deliver the AJT [Advanced Jet Trainer] in a configuration compliant with the Polish expectations as late as in July this year.

Second question referred to the JASSM missiles.

General Jan Śliwka announced that one of the Polish Vipers is currently staying in the United States, and the tape M6.5 upgrade has been already introduced in its case. Following a test firing of the missile, the jet is to return back to Poland in April. The remaining aircraft are going to receive the software upgrades domestically, in Poland. Delivery of the first four JASSM missiles is to be finalized by the end of April (the photos published in the social media by the press officer of the Krzesiny 31st Airbase suggest that two missiles have already been delivered).

The 2014 procurement contract assumes that the missiles would be delivered in full between 2018 and 2019, with the AGM-158B JASSM-ER ordnance to follow, and subsequent deliveries scheduled in this case before 2020. The -ER missiles were contracted in December, last year.

Image Credit: Filip Modrzejewski / Foto Poork, W. Mazurkiewicz

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

 

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This video shows the Polish MiG-29 Fulcrum air display at RIAT from inside the cockpit

Here’s How The RIAT Display of the Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum Looked Like “From the Office.”

In this video, you can watch, from the inside, the display routine performed by the Polish Air Force pilot Adrian Rojek during the RIAT 2015 at RAF Fairford in the UK.

The clip includes the high-performance take-off and other maneuvers that are peculiar to the Fulcrum, such as the famous tailslide.

Even though the Fulcrum is gradually becoming obsolete, it is still an agile airframe with a quite impressive flight envelope.

Despite its age, the Polish Air Force MiG-29 has become a desirable attendant of the RIAT show, thanks to the vertical take-off routine included in the display, which is beyond spectacular. The video shows this maneuver from the perspective of the “driver.”

Notably, the video also provides an insight into the effort that is required to perform such aerobatics in a fast jet.

 

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Check out the first 360° video filmed by a camera attached to the vertical stabilizer of the MiG-29 Fulcrum flying to the edge of space

This is the first time a 360° camera has been attached to the outside of a fighter jet flying at supersonic speed.

The clip below was shot by famous aviation video producer Artur Sarkysian for MigFlug, the company that offers fighter jet flying experiences to their customers.

One of the most famous experience they offer, the Edge of Space mission, takes people who want to experience a kind of flying reserved to fighter pilots (or, in same cases, astronauts), with their MiG-29UB Fulcrum, to the Stratosphere, through a parabola that helps the famous Soviet-era jet (still serving in Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Poland, Syria and Iran, among the others) reaching at a top speed of about Mach 1.9 and an altitude of 65,000 feet!

Although we have already posted some cool footage of the MiG-29 zooming beyond its service ceiling, here’s something new: the Edge of Space flight experience in 360° video.

The new video has been recorded earlier in winter 2016 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia – with a paying MiGFlug customer from Switzerland, with a Samsung Gear 360. Once again, MiGFlug and Sarkysian continue to innovate.

What makes the clip intesting is the possibility, using a browser, of literally moving around the aircraft to observe the flight, from take off to landing, from several different points of view.

By the way, MiGFlug does also offer flights in the Baltic Bees display team. Click here to learn more.

 

 

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Impressive photos of the Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum Night Operations at Minsk Mazowiecki

Awesome Photos Show the Polish MiG-29s during Night Ops.

Here are some shots taken at the 23rd Tactical Air Base of the Polish Air Force where MiG-29 aircraft are stationed. The set of photographs shows the night operations of the Fulcrum jets of the  stationed in Minsk Mazowiecki.

The 23rd Tactical Air Base continues the traditions of the famous RAF Squadron 303., which made great contributions to the Battle of Britain. This is shown through the unit’s emblem, taken over from the famous Kościuszko squadron.

The 23rd at Minsk Mazowiecki is one of the two Polish bases that operate the Fulcrum. The other unit is located in Malbork, in the West Pomerania district, by the Baltic Sea – the 22nd Tactical Air Base.

Beginning on Dec. 1. the base has been commanded by Air Force Col. Piotr Iwaszko, who is also an instructor pilot and test pilot. Moreover, Iwaszko has also been working as a Polish Fulcrum Demo pilot. He has logged around 1,400 hours of flight time so far, with more than 830 flying the Fulcrum.

Notably, Polish MiG-29 jets have undergone a minor upgrade in the recent years. The modernization works also resulted in application of a new color scheme.

When it comes to the operational role ascribed to the MiG-29, within the structure of the Polish Air Force, it is tasked mainly with air policing and intercepts. However, ground attack training sorties are also flown to the PolAF training ranges in a variety of regions of Poland.

In order to maintain their proficiency, the pilots are involved in night and daytime training, across a variety of weather conditions, including snow, as the stunning photographs, taken by Wojciech Mazurkiewic show.

Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz