While many are familiar with the front line air superiority fighter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, the MiG-29 Baaz (meaning Hawk) has remained in relative obscurity with the public. A further development of the MiG-29 is the MiG-35 which was a contender for the 126 MMRCA tender of the IAF.
India was the first international customer of the MiG-29. The IAF placed an order for more than 50 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase.
Indian MiG-29s were used extensively during the 1999 Kargil War to provide fighter escort for Mirage 2000s which were used for ground attack. It is rumoured that two MiG-29s from the No. 47 squadron the Black Archers gained beyond visual range (BVR) missile lock on two F-16s Falcons of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) which were patrolling close to the border, but did not engage because of a lack of an official war declaration.
Impressed by the performance of MiG-29 the IAF has decided to upgrade all 69 aircraft in its fleet to the MiG-29SMT variant. The upgrade program will fit the MiGs with a phased array radar (PESA), will include latest avionics, Zhuk-ME Radar, engine, weapon control systems etc., and in-flight re-fuelling capability, enhancing the multi-role capabilities of the aircraft.
In January 2010, India and Russia signed a US$1.2 billion deal under which the Indian Navy would acquire 29 additional MiG-29Ks, bringing the total number of MiG-29Ks on order to 45. The MiG-29K entered service with the Indian Navy on 19 February 2010.
Happy weekend everybody.