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Upgraded Mig-29 adds to air power

Published: 16th Oct, 2018

The Indian Air Force’s beast — MiG-29 — has gained in strength and ferocity after an upgrade, giving the force, battling a shortage of fighter aircraft, a much-needed boost.


The Indian Air Force’s beast — MiG-29 — has gained in strength and ferocity after an upgrade, giving the force, battling a shortage of fighter aircraft, a much-needed boost.


Mikoyan MiG-29:

  • It is a twin-engine jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union. Developed by the Mikoyan design bureau as an air superiority fighter during the 1970s.
  • The MiG-29 entered service with the Soviet Air Forces in 1982.
  • The previous ‘legacy version’ aircraft played an important role as the IAF stamped its supremacy over the Pakistani force during the Kargil War of 1999.
  • In the West, the new fighter was given the NATO reporting name "Fulcrum-A" because the pre-production MiG-29A, which should have logically received this designation, remained unknown in the West at that time.
  • The MiG-29B was widely exported in downgraded versions, known as MiG-29B 9-12A and MiG-29B 9-12B for Warsaw Pact and non-Warsaw Pact nations respectively, with less capable avionics and no capability for delivering nuclear weapons.

Up gradation:

  • MiG-29 is now capable of effecting mid-air refueling, is compatible with latest missiles and can launch multi-dimensional attacks.
  • The upgraded MiG-29 aircraft could take off within five minutes of spotting a hostile jet trying to enter the Indian airspace and destroy it, he said.
  • With air-to-air refuelling feature, the upgraded MiG-29 can cover larger distance as compared to the previous aircraft.

MiG-29 vs. F-16:

  • Both the F-16 and the MiG-29 were designed to correct mistakes and shortcomings of previous aircraft.
  • The MiG-29 became a smaller and shorter range F-15 while the F-16 became a larger and longer range F-5.
  • In combat provided that the MiG-29's 7.5g above 0.85 mach can be avoided it should beat any F-16 due to its BVR capability, higher thrust/weight ratio and lower wing loading.
  • F-16 pilots found that any aircraft within 45deg's of the nose of a MiG-29 was always under grave threat.
  • While both aircraft have shortcomings those of the MiG-29 have effectively been solved with newer versions (MiG-29 S/M/K and MiG-33) which have increased the fuel capacity of the MiG as well as adding an in-flight refueling system.
  • The F-16 by comparison has had few of its problems solved in the past few years. One of its greatest drawbacks the lack of a BVR capability was solved with the clearance of the AMRAAM for use on the F-16 but the second major problem of insufficient wing area on the F-16C has never been solved.

Adampur Air Force Base:

  • It is the second largest military airbase of India.
  • It is strategically important as it is around 100 km from Pakistan and 250 km away from China borders,
  • Base is now equipped with upgraded MiG-29.
  • The IAF has three squadrons of MiG-29 fighter jets in operation, two of them at the Adampur Air Force Station. One squadron comprises 16-18 aircraft.

List of active Indian military aircraft




  • IAF was reeling under a severe shortage of fighter aircraft. It currently has 31 squadrons of fighter jets against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons. This Mig 29 up gradation increases the IAF’s power.
  • With the upgrade, as compared to the previous ‘legacy version’ of the MiG-29 bought under emergency clause in early 1980s, the fighter jets are capable to give a befitting response to the enemy.

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