Combined Su-30 and MiG-29 upgrade offer could be the way to beat the F/A-18

Sukhoi and RSK MiG are discussing plans to combine their efforts to sell fighters to Malaysia ahead of the anticipated tender for 12-18 multirole fighters that is expected to be launched later this year.

Sukhoi's offer of the Su-30MKM, a customised variant for Malaysia, is supported by Russia's arms-trade agency, Rosoboron export, while RSK is proposing the MiG-29MRCA twin-seat multirole development of the MiG-29N Fulcrums already in Malaysian air force service.

Faced with competition from the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet, the Russian companies are discussing a package with the Su-30MKM to meet the fighter requirement along with a MiG-29SEupgrade.

The Su-30MKM is based on the Su-30MKI developed for India and in build at IAPOin Irkutsk. The Su-0MKM would retain the Su-30MKI's canards, thrust-vectoring and NIIP N-011M Bars multimode radar, but will use different avionics. Although undefined, Thales Avionics participation is "beyond doubt", says IAPO chairman Aleksei Fiodorov.

The MiG-29 upgrade would use Thales avionics and include a modified or new radar with multi-target and ground mapping capabilities.

Meanwhile, EADS is offering assistance to Malaysian industry to develop MiG-29 depot-level maintenance. Malaysia is considering MiG-29 upgrades and, although Malaysia is yet to develop a formal requirement, EADS is a likely bidder against RSK MiG.

Malaysian MiG-29 maintenance is performed by Aerospace Technology Systems (ATSC), which is 70%-owned by the government, 25% by RSK MiG and 5% by Rosoboronexport. EADS performs MiG work through its MiG Aircraft Product Support (MAPS) joint venture with RSK MiG and Rosoboronexport.

The first MiG-29 will require depot-level overhaul in about two years' time, and EADS Military Aircraft support programmes sales director Jürgen Keuling says the company is interested in supporting the work. "We are trying to go in there to help them do this maintenance," he says. This would initially comprise "consultancy and training", Keuling adds.

ATSC manager sales and procurement Nasaruddin Bin Aziz confirms the company lacks the tooling and infrastructure to perform the heavy maintenance and is looking to co-operate with a foreign partner.

EADS could offer a MiG-29 avionics upgrade combining elements of the modular package developed with Romania's Aerostar for the Sniper technology demonstrator, and the architecture designed for the Greek air force McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom modification, says Keuling.

Source: Flight International