The veteran MiG-21 has been given a new lease of life thanks to a major cockpit upgrade by a Romanian and Israeli partnership.

Crowds at Farnborough will be able to see the familiar shape of the Aerostar MiG-21 MF Lancer being put through its paces in the flying display, but the real changes have taken place inside the cockpit, according to Elbit test pilot Yehuda Shafir.

The Lancer is a joint programme to upgrade 110 of the Romanian air force's MiG-21s. It is also being offered for export. The Mikoyan fighter made its maiden flight over 40 years ago, and some 12,000 have been built, indicating there is a huge market for the improvement package.

"The programme is all about state of the art electronics," Shafir says. "The airframe is still the same, from the 1970s, but the cockpit is from the next century.

"The aircraft has good capability for air-to-air and air-to-ground. The first production aircraft is here. It proved itself flying here from Romania in bad weather.

"With the upgrade it can carry the most advanced missiles from east and west, this combination is unique," he says.

The weapons package includes the ability to employ western air-to-air missiles, laser guided and unguided bombs. Russian weapons capability includes K-13 (AA-2 Atoll), R-60 (AA-8 Aphid), R-73 (AA-11 Archer) air-to-air missiles, free flight rockets and 500kg bombs.

The electronic package includes look down/shoot down radar, GPS navigation, ground mapping radar and laser designation pod.

Aerostar and Elbit will carry out a full upgrade for customers including overhaul of airframe, engine and systems, training for pilots and technical crews, supported by logistic back-up.

Shafir says that the Lancer also has a helmet mounted sight, with full off-bore sight capability.

Comparing east European and western combat aircraft, he says the main difference can be seen in the cockpit.

"In the east they did not think about the pilot, in the west pilots got good conditions. With the upgrade programme we changed this approach."





Source: Flight Daily News