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Russian Air Power on the Rise: Kremlin Plans New Fleet of Cutting-Edge MiG-35s

Russia bets big on the new MiG-35

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

From a purely military (as well as arms dealer's) perspective, Russia's air operations in Syria have allowed the Kremlin to test — as well as showcase — its air power.

Some of the aircraft used in Syria (such as the Tupolev Tu-160) have been around for a while but have undergone upgrades which, until Syria, had been largely untested. Then there are newer craft such as the Sukhoi Su-34, which are the latest operational additions to the Russian air fleet.

<figcaption>The MiG-35. Not to be sneezed at.</figcaption>
The MiG-35. Not to be sneezed at.

Syria has presented daunting logistical and performance issues for the Russian Aerospaces Forces. But the challenges have been met, and by all accounts, Russian air power has turned the tide of the war. Remember what the battle lines were before Su-34s took to the skies above Syria? It wasn't pretty.

And now Russia is looking to the new MiG-35 to stay ahead of the competition and secure its skies (and the skies of its allies).

Moscow is betting big on the MiG-35, which is expected to enter service in the next two years. According to the head of Russia's Aerospace Forces, Viktor Bondarev, Russia plans to replace its entire fleet of light fighters with the state-of-the-art MiG-35.

As TASS reports:

Test flights of the MiG-35 aircraft began on Thursday. It is Russia’s most advanced 4++ generation multirole fighter jet developed on the basis of the MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft series. The aircraft is equipped with the newest airborne avionics as well as a wide range of guided air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.

The plane can fly at a maximum speed of 2.23 Mach while its operating range exceeds that of the MiG-29 aircraft by 50%.

Another remarkable feature: The MiG-35's onboard radar is capable of tracking up to 30 targets at a time at a distance of 160km.

The jet fighter has already sparked interest from foreign nations looking to beef up their own air force. Egypt, for example, has already signed a contract, worth up to $2 billion, for 50 MiG-35 fighters.

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