Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RSK-MiG) hopes to sell its new MiG-35 Fulcrum-F fighter to Peru, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Negotiations are apparently already underway.
While the MiG-35 will eventually enter service with the Russian Aerospace Forces, the new Fulcrum derivative is aimed at the low-end of the fighter market.
“We plan to discuss deliveries of MiG-35 planes,” MiG chief executive officer Ilya Tarasenko told the TASS news agency at the Army-2017 tradeshow outside Moscow.
“We have a lot of negotiations on the agenda. These are our usual regions: CIS, Southeast Asian countries, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Peru.”
Unlike the earlier iterations of the MiG-35, the current version of the jet is a land-based variation of the carrier-borne MiG-29KR. The aircraft is a far cry from the advanced version offered to India in 2011, which featured an active electronically scanned array radar and thrust vectoring controls.
“The current plane is essentially an upgrade of the MiG-29KR,” noted a Russian industry source.
“There is no thrust vectoring. And the lack of an AESA radar is of a more cost problem from a procurement standpoint rather than a technical problem.”
Indeed, as industry sources told The National Interest earlier in the year, the entire MiG-35 project has one goal—keep RSK-MiG in business.
“The entire MiG-35 project exists only in order to maintain the production line of RSK-MiG as well as for export,” the source continued.
“Technical specifications were a secondary factor. The MoD [Ministry of Defense] wants an AESA radar, but wants it [the MiG-35] as cheaply as possible. Foreign customers, who can buy MiGs, are still buying the jet without an AESA due to cost factors.”
While the MiG Corporation—known during the known during the Soviet-era as the Mikoyan Gurevich—was the dominant design bureau during the Cold War, the post-Soviet-era has not been kind to RSK-MiG. Prospective buyers, including the Russian Aerospace Forces, have generally preferred to opt for Sukhoi’s much larger and much more capable Su-27 Flanker and its many derivatives.
In many ways, the success or failure of the MiG-35 will help to determine the company’s fate as an independent entity inside Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation. Rival Sukhoi is already making moves to takeover RSK-MiG.