Vladimir Karnozov / Moscow

Rosoboronexport proposal offers reduced fuel-burn engine and avionics modifications

Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport is offering India a Mikoyan MiG-27 Flogger fighter-bomber upgrade featuring a structural life extension, new cockpit and integration of precision-guided munitions.

Head of RSK MiG's Mikoyan engineering centre Vladimir Barkovsky says the package includes the replacement of the aircraft's Tumansky R29B "with another engine with reduced fuel burn", but he declines to specify the engine. Changes would include cockpit multifunction displays and an air-to-air refuelling capability. India has more than 130 MiG-27s.

Russian industry is competing with Israel Aircraft Industries' Lahav division, which is offering a package developed from its Mikoyan MiG-21 and RSK MiG-29 Fulcrum upgrades. Russia makes only one modern engine with enough thrust, the NPO Saturn AL-31F, with 27,560lb (122kN) augmented thrust and 16,900lb thrust at military power, compared with the R29B's 25,330lb and 17,620lb thrust, respectively.

The Al-31F is lighter, 1,520kg (3,350lb) against the R29B's 1,772kg, and has better specific fuel consumption, but the Saturn engine is 200mm (8in) wider than the current powerplant. Offering India the AL-31F would give the air force commonality with its Sukhoi Su-30s.

An earlier MiG-27 upgrade, proposed in 1996 by the fighter's manufacturer, the Irkutsk Aircraft Production Organisation, included a new navigation system, computer and multiplex databus. The proposal generated no interest. In 1999, RSK began working on a new package, the MiG-27M-99/MiG-23BN-99, on which the Indian upgrade is thought to be based.

RSK has also developed upgrades for the related MiG-23 fighter. The MiG-23-98 option 1 adds the Vympel R-73 (AA-11 Archer) infrared-guided short-range missile and helmet-mounted sight. Option 2 integrates Vympel's radar-guided, medium-range RVV-AE (R-77/AA-12 Adder), an upgraded Saphir-23 or new radar, revised cockpit and navigation systems. Despite a lack of customers, Barkovsky says "some interest remains in the market", as the MiG-23 is still in service with at least 18 air forces.

Source: Flight International