Europe remains a centre of activity for the MiG-29, with “almost 400 aircraft in service” according to Anatoly Belov, the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG’s designer general.
These aircraft serve with the air forces of Belarus, the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia and the Slovakian Republic. A number of these operators are upgrading their aircraft for continued operation, with Slovakia the latest to put an upgraded version into service.
Colonel Jozef Dobrotka of the Slovakian Air Force flew his upgraded MiG-29 into Schonefeld for the static display. He has been participating in a combat training exercise in Poland, and his aircraft, resplendent in a ‘pixellated’ digital camouflage, was a surprise addition to the air show. Colonel Dobrotka, who is the base commander at Sliac, where the Slovak MiGs are based, spoke to Flight Daily News about the Slovakian upgrade.
He described the upgraded aircraft as “the Slovakian MiG-29, because it is a wholly-new aircraft, fully equipped with Western avionics and new systems, some of them even made in the Slovakian Republic.”
The requirement to upgrade the MiGs emerged in 2004, when, faced with the need to operate within NATO, Slovakia had to choose between a major upgrade of its existing aircraft fleet, or procurement of a new type.
The Slovaks decided to upgrade 10 single-seat MiG-29s and two MiG-29UB two-seat trainers to the new MiG-29AS and UBS standard, drawn from the air force’s fleet of 18 single-seaters and three two-seat aircraft.
The upgrade was a two-stage process, with the first stage being marked by a shift to ‘on condition’ maintenance, and with the second seeing the aircraft being fitted with new IFF equipment, US radios, and an improved navigation system.
The first upgraded aircraft made its first flight after conversion on 20 December 2007, and the new version was formally accepted into service on 29 February 2008.
Visit the official Berlin Air Show site
Flight's ACAS Business Aviation
Flight's products including the Business Aircraft Pocket Guide
All the news from ILA 2008