Russia has begun delivering upgraded MiG-29 fighters to the Indian air force (IAF), with the first three traveling aboard an An-124 transport aircraft. 

The aircraft were due to arrive Dec. 11.

The IAF has awarded the MiG corporation a $900 million contract to upgrade all of its 69 operational MiG-29s.

These upgrades include a new avionics kit, with the N-109 radar being replaced by a Phazatron Zhuk-M radar. The upgrades also include improved beyond-visual-range combat ability and an air-to-air refueling capability. 

“Modernization significantly extends the range of tasks performed by MiG-29,” says Sergei Korotkov, general director of JSC Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG.

The first six aircraft are being upgraded in Russia, while the remaining 63 will be refitted at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. in India. The first flight of the upgraded MiG-29UPG took place on Feb. 4, 2011.

The contract provides for repair and modification to extend the aircraft’s service life up to 40 years.

“The aircraft delivery ... is the first step in the contract execution for the modernization of a large fleet of the IAF MiG-29s,” Korotkov says. “We are getting ready for the second phase of work, which provides modernization of fighters in India in close cooperation with the Indian industry.”  

In 2007, Russia gave India’s HAL a license to manufacture 120 RD-33 series 3 turbojet engines for the upgrade.

Photo: MiG 29