Sunday, February 15, 2009

Summing up and announcing the winner of a tender to supply 126 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) to the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be one of the high points in military-technical cooperation between India and foreign countries in the coming one or two years.
The tender involves six contenders: Russian MiG-35 fighter (RSK MiG), American F-16 and F/A-18 (from Lockheed Martin and Boeing respectively), French Rafale (Dassault Aviation), Swedish JAS-39 Gripen (SAAB), and European Eurofighter Typhoon (EADS). The technical evaluation of the bids has been completed, and field trials are to start in India in April-May.
The Russian fighter offers distinct advantages over the competing planes. Unlike all the other aircraft, which are production models, the MiG-35 is the latest-generation fighter developed with due regard to the peculiarities of operation in India. It not only meets all the requirements of the tender put forward by the IAF, but also has drawn from the best operating experience with previous MiG aircraft in the country.
The Russian aircraft has perfect aerodynamic lines and what is more it has acquired incredible super maneuverability, owing to an exclusive thrust vector control technology. None of MiG-35’s rivals can boast such capability, which gives it an undeniable edge in real air combat. Furthermore, heavy use of composites in the frame has made the aircraft less observable to enemy radars. The fighter’s double weapons load and 1.5-fold higher fuel capacity compared to its predecessor are also its irresistible benefits.
The Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar is a unique component of the MiG-35, which was proposed for the tender by Rosoboronexport and MiG Russian Aircraft Corporation. The radar can track up to 30 targets and attack simultaneously six most dangerous of them. Its target detection range of 140-160 km also wins admiration and can be further extended to 250-280 km when more receive/transmit modules are used. Along with its powerful precision-guided weapons, high-performance active self-defense system and superb performance characteristics, the lightweight MiG-35 has grown into a medium-sized aircraft – a superfighter of the 21st century.
Another benefit of the Russian fighter is its best value for money. Being highly competitive with its Western counterparts, the MiG-35 is superior to its rivals in many characteristics and at same time is less expensive. For India, this factor may be decisive in selecting the winner, all other things being equal. On the world arms markets, where Rosoboronexport has operated in recent years, the cost-performance ratio favorably distinguishes Russian military equipment from rivals.
More than 40 years of military-technical cooperation between Russia and India and the current level of the mutually beneficial bilateral relations are indicative of this.
The recent major projects being implemented between Moscow and Delhi include delivery of Mi-17V-5 transport helicopters to India, license production of Su-30MKI aircraft and T-90S tanks.
A qualitatively new phase of fruitful bilateral cooperation is marked by the key joint aircraft projects. These are primarily the multi-purpose transport plane and a fifth-generation fighter development programs
“This year’s 7th AERO INDIA 2009 exhibition is a grandiose aerospace event in the Asia & Pacific region. It involves 20 Russian exhibitors presenting several hundreds of weaponry, military and aerospace equipment items,” said Viktor Komardin, head of Rosoboronexport’s delegation and Deputy Director General of the Corporation. “The content and dimensions of Rosoboronexport’s display, planned meetings and negotiations will be focused on further strengthening Russia’s military-technical cooperation with its long and reliable partners as well as on looking for new would-be purchasers of aircraft and armaments made by Russia independently or jointly with foreign partners in production.
14/02/09, Germany

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