East Europe's MiG-29 Sniper upgrade market is in the sights of a joint Romanian-German-Israeli programme to modernise the famous Russian combat aircraft.
The MiG-29 upgrade technology demonstrator is intended as a "bridge to East European users", says Aerostar president and general director Grigore Filip. "It is an important concept at a European level."
Filip says that upgrade is not intended as an outright competitor to the products of the aircraft's original Russian manufacturers, MAPO-MiG. "We haven't had a specific reaction from the Russians. Our Sniper upgrade proves the qualities of their aircraft."
Aerostar, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) and Elbit Systems started the development of the MiG-29 Sniper demonstrator after the signature of a teaming agreement in June 1999. The aim of the project is to offer upgrade packages to met the needs of a wide range of MiG-29 users.
Filip says the Romanian air force is likely to be the first customer but no decision is expected soon. The service donated an aircraft to become the flying demonstrator.
"The excellent support from the Romanian operator and from the ministry of national defence was an important factor in the final success of the programme," says Filip.
The MiG-29 Sniper programme relies on DASA's experience in system development and integration as well as in the maintenance and upgrading of various fighter aircraft, and the success of Aerostar and Elbit Systems in the MiG-21 Lancer upgrade for the Romanian air force.
The workshare structure for the programme gives DASA the programme management, engineering support and the flight test programme, jointly with Elbit. The Israeli company is responsible for the avionics development, and Aerostar the implementation and integration of the upgrade on the platform.
The aircraft made its first flight on 5 May piloted by DASA's chief test pilot Wolfgang Schirdewahn.
This marked the beginning of a flight test programme to test the capability and performance of the aircraft with the new upgraded avionics and systems. It included testing of the aircraft-engine installation, avionics, balance, stability and manoeuvrability testing. Since then, progress has been rapid and the test flight programme has been completed at demonstrator level.
Prior to the upgrade package being installed, the aircraft was submitted to a life extension programme. The upgrade package includes a new digital mission computer (MMRC) with growth potential and a Mil-bus 1553B, upgraded Western avionics, communication and navigation systems.
Filip says the upgraded aircraft has excellent growth potential for the future integration of state-of-the-art radar, fire control and electronic warfare systems; also for integration of Western weapons in combination with existing and new Russian weapons, as well as for future command and control systems.
Source: Flight Daily News