The history of the MiG-29 (Russian: МиГ-29), like that of the larger Sukhoi Su-27, started in 1969 when the Soviet Union learned of the U.S. Air Force’s 'FX' program, which resulted in the F-111 Aardvark, and later the F-14 Tomcat.
The MiG-21 was agile by the standards of its day, but had deficiencies in range, armament, and growth potential.
The MiG-23, developed to match the F-4 Phantom II, was fast and had more space for fuel and equipment, but lacked in maneuverability and dogfighting ability.
In response, the Soviet General Staff issued a requirement for a Perspektivnyy Frontovoy Istrebitel (PFI, roughly "Advanced Frontline Fighter", literally "Perspective Frontline Fighter").
Specifications were extremely ambitious, calling for long range, good short-field performance (including the ability to use austere runways), excellent agility, Mach 2+ speed, and heavy armament. The aerodynamic design for the new aircraft was largely carried out by TsAGI, the Russian aerodynamics institute, in collaboration with the Sukhoi design bureau. However, in 1971 the Soviets determined that the PFI aircraft would be too expensive to procure in the quantities needed, and divided the requirement into the TPFI (Tyazhyolyy Perspektivnyy Frontovoy Istrebitel, "Heavy Advanced Tactical Fighter") and the LPFI (Lyogkiy Perspektivnyy Frontovoy Istrebitel, "Lightweight Advanced Tactical Fighter") programs, the latter paralleling the contemporary USAF decision that led to the "Lightweight Fighter" program and the F-16 Fighting Falcon and YF-17 Cobra.
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.
In the West, the new fighter was given the NATO reporting name "Fulcrum-A" because the pre-production MiG-29A, which should have logically received this designation, remained unknown in the West at that time.
Some more advanced versions are still being pursued for export, and updates of existing Russian aircraft are likely. New versions of the plane called MiG-29SMT and MiG-29M1/M2 are being developed. Furthermore, development of a carrier version, the MiG-29K, has been resumed for the Indian Navy's INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier (formerly the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov).
The MiG-29 was first publicly seen in the West during a visit to Finland in July 1986. Two were displayed at the Farnborough Air Show in Britain in September 1988.
The following year, the aircraft conducted flying displays at the 1989 Paris Air Show where it was involved in a non-fatal crash during the first weekend of the show.
The success of the MiG-29 during DACT was partly due to its ability to use its helmet-mounted sight (HMS) to achieve high off-boresight targeting solutions for the Archer missile. In 1997, the United States purchased 21 Moldovan aircraft for evaluation and analysis. In late 1997, the MiGs were delivered to the National Air Intelligence Center (NAIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Because it was developed from the same basic parameters laid out by TsAGI for the original PFI, the MiG-29 is aerodynamically broadly similar to the Sukhoi Su-27, but with some notable differences. It is built largely out of aluminium with some composite materials.
It has a mid-mounted swept wing with blended leading-edge root extensions (LERXs) swept at around 40°. There are swept tailplanes and two vertical fins, mounted on booms outboard of the engines. Automatic slats are mounted on the leading edges of the wings; they are four-segment on early models and five-segment on some later variants. On the trailing edge, there are maneuvering flaps and wingtip ailerons.
The MiG-29 has hydraulic controls and a SAU-451 three-axis autopilot but, unlike the Su-27, does not have a fly-by-wire control system. Nonetheless, it is very agile, with excellent instantaneous and sustained turn performance, high alpha capability, and a general resistance to spins. The airframe is stressed for 9-g (88 m/s²) maneuvers. The controls have "soft" limiters to prevent the pilot from exceeding the g and alpha limits, but these can be disabled manually.
The MiG-29 has two widely spaced Klimov RD-33 turbofan engines, each rated at 50.0 kN (11,240 lb) dry and 81.3 kN (18,277 lb) in afterburner. The space between the engines generates lift, thereby reducing effective wing loading, to improve maneuverability.
The engines are fed through wedge-type intakes fitted under the LERXs, which have variable ramps to allow high-Mach speeds.
As an adaptation to rough-field operations, they can be closed completely for takeoff, landing and low-speed flying, thereby preventing ingestion of ground debris.
For longer flights, this can be supplemented by a 1,500 liter drop tank carried on the centerline and, on later production batches, by two underwing drop tanks, each capable of 1,150 liters. The pilot is seated on a Zvezda K-36DM zero-zero ejection seat which has had impressive performance in emergency escapes.
The baseline MiG-29B has a Phazotron RLPK-29 (Radiolokatsyonnui Pritselnui Kompleks) radar attack system which includes the coherent pulse-Doppler N019 (Sapfir 29; NATO reporting name 'Slot Back') look-down/shoot-down coherent pulse-Doppler radar and a Ts100.02-02 digital computer.
The outer pylons usually carry R-73 (AA-11 'Archer') dogfight missiles, although some users still retain the older R-60 (AA-8 'Aphid'). A single 1,500 liter tank can be fitted to the centerline, between the engines, for ferry flights, but this position is not used for combat stores. The original MiG-29B can carry general-purpose bombs and unguided rocket pods, but not precision-guided munitions. Upgraded models have provision for laser-guided and electro-optical bombs, as well as air-to-surface missiles.
Mig-29K - The most amazing videos are a click away
(This text was adapted from http://www.wikipedia.org/ )(GFDL)
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