Douglas Barrie/MOSCOW

V PK-MAPO IS SET TO drop its development of the MiG-29M Fulcrum in favour of a more ambitious upgrade programme, including fitting the aircraft, which is dubbed the MiG-35, with three-dimensional thrust-vector control (TVC).

Development of a 10t TVC derivative of the Klimov RD-33 engine is already well under way. St Petersburg-based Klimov became part of VPK-MAPO in May.

Mikhail Waldenberg, general designer with VPK-MAPO, says that development of TVC is intended to address the Fulcrum's manoeuvrability during low-speed regimes. The aircraft is also intended to have double the range of the MiG-29.

"We are expecting that thrust vectoring will radically enhance the manoeuvrability of the MiG-29, especially within the low-speed envelope," says Waldenberg.

The initiative for the programme has come from within VPK-MAPO, although there has also been involvement by the Russian air force. Moscow cut the MiG-29M programme in the early 1990s, but then announced, in 1995, that it would again support the project. No cash has been forthcoming, however.

Waldenberg says: "The MiG-29M is not an ideal flying platform for the future, so there may be a different approach."

He suggests that one option would be to use the MiG-29M prototypes to bring the new radar and flight-control and weapons-control systems to maturity for the new aircraft.

The configuration of the aircraft has yet to be determined. It remains to be seen whether canard foreplanes, which are believed to have been part of a previous MiG-29M project, known internally as Article 9.25, are included. "The only purpose of canards is to drive the aircraft back from high angles of attack to a normal attitude. If we can solve this using TVC, then possibly there will be no need for canards," says Waldenberg.

Source: Flight International