Why the MiG-35 is not able to find customers?

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The Russian MiG-35 fighter aircraft is said to have not been able to meet the expectations of the Russian Military Officials and as well as international potential customers, leading the aircraft towards a complete failure.

The MiG-35 is one of the most advanced Russian Fighter Aircraft, but only 6 prototypes and 2 test aircrafts has been built till now, even after more than 5 years after its first flight. The total numbers of MiG-35s produced till date is very few compared to initial expectations.

The MiG-35 can track 30 targets and attack 6 targets at the same time. The fighter was originally supposed to be successful in the international exports market, but the actual reality is that no foreign customer is interested in this aircraft.

The MiG-35 is based on the MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2. The fighter made is first flight in december 2016 after several delays. The Mikoyan Design Bureau, the designer of this aircraft expected the Russian Ministry of Defense to give them a large order for this type of aircraft. But no large order is received till date.

The first prototype of the MiG-35 was shown at an air show in 2005, in 2013 the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it will buy only 37 MiG-35s. So it was a struggle for the latest generation “Fulcrum”.

The overall design of the MiG-35 is of a medium-weight, multi-role fighter aircraft, especially with a “brain” to be integrated with other combat platforms in the squadron. This advanced feature is actually found mostly in 5th-generation fighters.

Serial production MiG-35s were equipped with a PESA radar of Zhuk family. But Russia has offered Zhuk-A/AM AESA radar for export market. The AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar system of the MiG-35 offers good damage control and fire control advantages. The combat range of the Zhuk-A radar on the MiG-35 is 120 km, much better as compared with the previous radars.

The MiG-35 is powered by a pair of two Klimov RD-33MK turbofan engines, allowing the aircraft to easily reach the maximum speed of Mach 2.25, the aircraft has the operational range of 2,000 kilometers, flight ceiling of 20 kilometers, also the airframe of the aircraft can withstand a positive 9G overload or negative 3G.

The MiG-35 has 9 hardpoints, that has the capacity to carry the payload of upto 7 tons, weapons of this aircraft includes bombs both guided and unguided, rockets, missiles and additional pods. The aircraft is also equipped with a 30mm fast firing autocannon with 150 rounds of ammunition.

The MiG-35 is capable of performing various types of missions in all weather conditions, including day and night operations, this aircraft can effectively target and attack battle tanks and warships, which is a good thing for offensive missions such as in the Ukrainian territory for Russia.

In addition, one of the hard points of the MiG-35 can carry electronic warfare equipment to provide countermeasures to blind enemy air defense systems.

The MiG-35 was once evaluated as, “Demonstrating Super-Maneuverability, being able to fly at supercritical angles of attack at sustained G payloads, has a great thrust to weight ratio, and improved aerodynamic efficiency of the aircraft wings”.

However, despite having so much capabilities, the MiG-35 failed badly in the Export Market, Egypt showed some interest in the aircraft but ultimately decided to buy the MiG-29M. Russia had great hope from India, as India was already using a large number of Russian Aircrafts such as the MiG-29UPG, MiG-29K and Su-30MKI. But after evaluating the MiG-35, the Indian Armed Forces found that this russian aircraft has many problems with its avionics and engines. Ultimately, india rejected the MiG-35 and ordered Dassault Rafale Multirole Fighters from France.

International sales of the MiG-35 have become more difficult due to heavy competition from western made fighters such as the F-16, F-18, Eurofighter Typhoon and SAAB JAS 39 Gripen which are much reliable and more advanced than the MiG-35.

The Russian Defence Ministry intended to place an order for 37 aircrafts in 2013, but the number was reduced to 24 in August 2017. The first batch of six MiG-35s was ordered in August 2018, and first two serial aircraft were delivered to the Russian Aerospace Forces on 17 June 2019.

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