Russia has made yet another accomplishment for its defense industry as it won a billion-dollar contract from India to upgrade about 70 MiG fighter jets.
An official spokesman for Russia’s MiG design bureau said that the five-year contract stipulates Russia’s participation in the installment of new radars, weapons control systems and the improvement of engines for MiG-29 fighters. Some of the planes to be upgraded date back to the 1980s.
India has long been a leading customer of Russia’s defense industry, but its relationship with Russia soured recently amid a dispute over the refurbishment of a Soviet-built aircraft carrier. A Russian shipyard had fallen far behind schedule and demanded a higher price for its work, prompting protests from the Indians.
Russia , meanwhile, has wants to secure a multibillion-dollar contract to supply India with 126 new fighter planes - mostly an advanced version of the MiG-29.
But news reports last month that Algeria demanded Moscow take back several MiG-29 jets because of quality concerns raised questions about Russia's ability to deliver on major weapons deals, the Associated Press reports.
U.S., French and Swedish companies have also stepped up efforts to sign big arms deals with India, whose economy is booming.
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a 4th generation jet fighter aircraft designed for the air superiority role in the Soviet Union. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service in 1983 and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other nations. NATO's reporting name for the MiG-29 is "Fulcrum", which was unofficially used by Soviet pilots in service. It was developed to counter new American fighters such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the F/A-18 Hornet.
The history of the MiG-29, like that of the larger Sukhoi Su-27, started in 1969 when the Soviet Union learned of the U.S. Air Force’s 'F-X' program, which resulted in the F-15 Eagle. The Soviet leadership soon realized that the new American fighter would represent a serious technological advantage over all existing Soviet fighters.
Despite program delays caused by the loss of two prototypes in engine-related accidents, the MiG-29B production version entered service in August 1983 at the Kubinka air base. State acceptance trials were completed in 1984, and deliveries began the same year to the Soviet Frontal Aviation.