Aerial Warfare

Indian Defence Ministry Approves Purchase of 21 MiG-29s from Russia

Indian Air Force’s MiG-29 Fighters
Indian Air Force’s MiG-29 Fighters

The Indian Defence Ministry on Thursday approved a proposal to acquire 21 MiG-29s along with upgradation of 59 MiG-29s at a cost of Rs 18,148 crore, making it the first deal for these jets in over three decades. The decision comes in the wake of high tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops have been in a standoff position for several weeks now. While the MiG 29 procurement and upgradation from Russia is estimated to cost Rs 7418 cr, the Su-30 MKI will be procured from HAL at an estimated cost of Rs 10,730 cr.

The Indian Air Force has raised its guard to deal with any military provocation by the Chinese forces and forward bases have been ordered to be on their highest state of alert. Apart from Sukhoi-30s and upgraded MiG-29 fighter jets, teh IAF is operating Apache AH-64E attack helicopters and CH-47F (I) Chinook multi-mission helicopters. The IAF and the Indian Army have deployed their air defence systems in eastern Ladakh even as the People Liberation Army-Air Force has activated several of its bases in both Xinjiang and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

India was the first international customer of the MiG-29. The Indian Air Force (IAF) placed an order for more than 66 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase. Since its induction into the IAF in 1985, the aircraft has undergone a series of modifications with the addition of new avionics, sub-systems, turbofan engines and radars. The MiG-29’s good operational record prompted India to sign a deal with Russia in 2005–2006 to upgrade all of its MiG-29s for US$888 million.

The upgrades to Indian MiG-29s will be to the MiG-29UPG standard. This version is similar to the SMT variant but differs by having a foreign-made avionics suite. The upgrade to latest MiG-29UPG standard is in process, which will include latest avionics, Zhuk-ME Radar, engine, weapon control systems, enhancing multirole capabilities by many-fold. As of 2012, Indian UPG version is the most advanced MiG-29 variant.The IAF is in advanced stages of talks to buy a new squadron of upgraded multi-role MiG-29s from Russia using three-decade old MiG-29s.

The Indian Air Force's existing 69 MiG-29s are currently undergoing a $900-million mid-life upgrade to the MiG-29UPG standard (Photo: Indian Air Force)
The Indian Air Force’s existing 69 MiG-29s are currently undergoing a $900-million mid-life upgrade to the MiG-29UPG standard (Photo: Indian Air Force)
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