JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON
RSK MiG has begun talks with the Indian air force on an upgrade programme for its ageing fleet of Mikoyan MiG-27 Flogger fighter-bombers, which is now described by India as a "priority".
The Russian manufacturer claims the complex structural life extension and related airframe modification can only be performed by the original design team, which is now within the RSK organisation, to assure safety.
RSK's deputy director general Gennadiy Archipov says it has proposed an upgrade to the engine, avionics and weapons system, which is now under consideration (Flight International, 2-8 April, 2002).
Archipov says replacement of the MiG-27's 25,330lb-thrust (113kN) Tumansky R-29B with the 27,560lb-thrust NPO Saturn AL-31FN engine requires modification of the aircraft tail as well as new intakes. "The air intake for the AL-31 is significantly different and requires changes to the whole aircraft design," he says.
Archipov says "only the original design team can carry out such comprehensive changes", despite India's interest in carrying out the work locally. Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) licence-produced many of India's MiG-27s.
The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation signed a memorandum of understanding to develop two prototype aircraft with HAL at the Aero India show this month, but has not released details of the programme.
RSK has repeatedly claimed that upgrades by non-Russian companies to MiG designs without its input are not safe. Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport reportedly says that India's use of non-original equipment manufacturer spare parts for the Mikoyan MiG-21 has contributed to its poor safety record. India has lost at least 158 MiG-21s over the past 20 years.
Source: Flight International