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    HomeMilitaryThe Struggle of Russia's MiG-35: A Fighter Jet's Unfulfilled Potential

    The Struggle of Russia’s MiG-35: A Fighter Jet’s Unfulfilled Potential

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    Mikoyan MiG-29 (Russian: Микоян МиГ-29; NATO reporting name: ‘Fulcrum’) low level pass, Polish Air Force” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    The Russian MiG-35, once touted as a cutting-edge 4++ generation fighter, has faced a tumultuous journey since its introduction. Debuting with high expectations, the MiG-35 was designed as an advanced evolution of its predecessors, the MiG-29 and MiG-29M.

    Mikoyan MiG-35 (Russian: Микоян МиГ-35; NATO reporting name: ‘Fulcrum-F’)” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Enhanced avionics, a new fly-by-wire system, and improved combat efficiency were among its promised features, giving rise to hopes that it would dominate the skies and captivate the international market.

    712BLUE MG29(M2)(MiG-35) Russian Air Force ZIA UUBW 1” by Papas.Dos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Yet the reality has been starkly different. Production numbers have been cut from an initial 37 aircraft to a mere six, reflecting the broader challenges within Russia’s defense industry. The international community, including countries like Egypt and India, has largely turned away, opting for alternative fighters amid concerns about the MiG-35’s radar and engine performance.

    Russian Air Force, 35, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF (50171271281)” by Anna Zvereva is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Mikoyan’s MiG-35 was unveiled to the Russian government on January 26, 2017, followed by a showcase for prospective export customers. The jet boasted advanced technology, including an OLS-k electro-optical targeting and surveillance system, and was the first Russian fighter equipped with AESA radar.

    Russian Air Force, 747, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-35” by Anna Zvereva is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    With enhancements in situational awareness and multirole capabilities, the MiG-35 was meant to serve as an air superiority fighter and precision ground strike craft, adaptable to various combat scenarios.

    MiG 35 ready for touchdown” by Premshree Pillai is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Despite these advancements, the MiG-35’s international appeal has been lackluster. Egypt chose the MiG-29M over the MiG-35, and the jet failed to impress in the Indian MRCA bid.

    MiG 35” by Premshree Pillai is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The Russian Defense Ministry’s order reduction to six units signifies the nation’s constrained resources, a situation exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

    MiG 35 soaring” by Premshree Pillai is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The Russian military’s intervention in Ukraine has been anything but a showcase of its might. Bogged down in a war of attrition with their “weaker” neighbor, Russian forces have failed to make substantial gains, challenging the reputation of Russian military hardware.

    MiG 35: afterburners” by Premshree Pillai is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Amidst this conflict, the MiG-35 is conspicuously absent from the battlefield, raising questions about its operational viability and production struggles.

    MiG 35” by Premshree Pillai is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    In spite of this, Russia’s aerospace design continues to hold a degree of respect. The existence of the MiG-35, albeit in limited numbers, still speaks to the capabilities of Russian designers. However, the inability to produce and supply these aircraft to Russian forces highlights a disconnect between design and execution.

    Micoyan&Gurevich MiG-35” by Dmitry Terekhov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    As Russia focuses its resources on the Ukraine conflict, production of the MiG-35 for export seems unlikely. The MiG-35 boasts some fifth-generation technologies and offers reduced maintenance requirements, potentially appealing features for potential clients.

    SSJ-100, Micoyan&Gurevich MiG-29M-OVT & MiG-35, Sukhoi Su-35BM & Su-30MKM” by Dmitry Terekhov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    The MiG-35 is a multirole aircraft capable of carrying a diverse arsenal, including anti-ship and anti-radar missiles, guided bombs, and a 30mm cannon.

    MiG-35” by Peer.Gynt is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Despite this, it has not seen combat, nor has it found international success. Its export potential remains in question, with no significant orders despite Russia’s attempts to offer it to countries like India.

    SSJ-100, Micoyan&Gurevich MiG-29M-OVT & MiG-35, Sukhoi Su-35BM & Su-30MKM” by Dmitry Terekhov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    As it stands, the MiG-35 remains an enigmatic presence in the world of military aviation. Its technological advancements have not translated into operational success or international sales.

    Micoyan&Gurevich MiG-35” by Dmitry Terekhov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    With Russia’s current focus on the Ukrainian conflict and a constrained budget, the MiG-35’s future hangs in the balance, making it a symbol of unfulfilled potential in the world of modern fighter jets.

    Relevant articles:
    Russia’s MiG-35 Fighter Never Had a Chance, The National Interest
    Russia’s MiG-35 Fighter Looks Destined for Total Failure, nationalinterest.org
    Russia’s MiG-35 Nightmare Just Won’t Seem to End, The National Interest

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