A limited upgrade of the MIG MAPO MiG-29 Fulcrum, known internally as Object 9-17, is emerging as the near-term priority for the recently re-established Mikoyan design bureau as it struggles to secure work from a limited Russian air force budget.

Mikhail Korzhuyev, MIG MAPO general director, says that Object 9-17, also known as the MiG-29SMT, will provide a multi-role capability for the Fulcrum, with a 100% increase in the mission radius over the basic Russian air force model. MIG MAPO is hoping to persuade the air force to upgrade at least some of its Fulcrum fleet to the 9-17 standard. A prototype first flew in November last year.

Korzhuyev is reported as saying that the aircraft will have a ferry range of 2,400km (1,300nm) with an internal fuel load increased by 1,650kg. The aircraft's combat radius is claimed as 1,550km in the air superiority role, with a 1,100km radius claimed for strike missions.

The 9-17 will have an improved variant of the basic Fulcrum radar, the Phazotron N-019. The upgrade, the N-019MP, will have a ground mapping capability, including a synthetic aperture mode with high resolution imaging and moving target indication. The air to surface weapons suite includes the Zvezda Strela Kh-31A anti-ship and Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, the Vympel Kh-29T and KAB-500KR television-guided weapons.

In air to air engagements, the 9-17 will be capable of two-target engagement using the Vympel R-77 (AA-12 Adder) active radar guided medium range missile. The Vympel R-73 (AA-11 Archer) will be retained as its major close range weapon.

Mikoyan, which continues to operate under the MIG MAPO umbrella, but has been separated from the manufacturing side of the business, is offering a decrease in the MiG-29's radar cross-section "by 10 times down to a level of 1m² [11ft²]", says Korzhuyev, using radar absorbent coatings. He says that this technology has been proven. Thrust vectoring is also being examined, although Korzhuyev says: "It is not of the first priority."

Mikoyan is also pushing the newly merged Russian air and air defence forces to opt for a modernisation of its MiG-31 interceptors "to pull them up to MiG-31M capabilities". The MiG-31M programme was cancelled because of a lack of funds.

This upgrade project would include integration of the Vympel R-37 (AA-X-13) long range air to air missile.

Source: Flight International