MOSCOW --- The Mikoyan MiG-29 (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum) fighter jets to be exported to Egypt will be fitted out with advanced infrared search-and-track (IRST) stations and electronic warfare (EW) pods, according to the Izvestia daily.
According to representatives of the defense contractors taking part in executing the contract, Egypt’s MiG-29s will feature the latest OLS-UE IRST capable of not only detecting enemy aircraft by their infrared signature, but also acquiring surface threats, getting their coordinates and showing the imagery on a display in the cockpit.
In addition to the IRST, the MiG-29s ordered by Egypt will be equipped with the PPK targeting pod comprising thermal imager/TV systems and laser rangefinders allowing the employment of not only precision-guided munitions (PGM), e.g. bombs and missiles carrying TV or laser homing heads, but also ‘dumb’ munitions with a circular error probable (CEP) of tens of centimeters.
The OLS-UE and PPK have been developed and manufactured by the same company - Precision Instrument Systems, a subsidiary of the Roscosmos State Corporation.
The Russian Aerospace Force’s (RusAF) fleet of MiG-29s is equipped with IRSTs too, but the latter are rather a means of dogfighting, a RusAF officer says. According to the source, the IRST designed for the Egyptian MiG-29s both feeds TV and IR imagery to a display in the cockpit and, if need be, ‘paints’ the target using the integral laser rangefinder that creates a laser spot invisible to the naked eye but quite visible to homing PGMs. (Emphasis added—Ed.)
Another novelty to be supplied to Egypt is the MSP small-size electronic countermeasures (ECM) system from the Axel Berg Central Research Institute. The MSP spoofs the homing heads of guided missiles, e.g. the US-made AIM-130 AMRAAM and AIM-7 Sparrow and French-manufactured MICA-EM.
The work on the MSP has been under way long enough. MiG Corp. has displayed MiG-29s sporting MSPs on their hard-points at MAKS international air shows in the Moscow Region. The RusAF is yet to order the MSP, however.
According to expert Anton Lavrov, the Egyptian version of the MiG-29 turns the old Soviet-built fighter into an up-to-date multirole aircraft capable of standing its ground against the US-made F-16 Fighting Falcon and Swedish-built JAS 39 Gripen. The most radical increase in its capabilities will be that in ground target acquisition and engagement. Carrying the PPK podded sight, the MiG-29M will even surpass the overwhelming majority of the RusAF’s in-service fighters in this respect.
At the same time, according to expert Andrei Frolov, the Russian-Egypt contract is similar to the agreement signed earlier with India for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI (Flanker-H) and MiG-29K/KUB (Fulcrum-D) fighters. At the time, India agreed to fund numerous research and development efforts intended to refine the Russian aircraft that New Delhi was going to acquire. At the time, the Indian money came in really handy for Sukhoi to improve the Su-30 heavily and introduce the then-latest solutions.
After the MiG-29K/KUB carrier-borne fighter had been developed for the Indian Navy, a modified version of the fighter has been bought by the Russian Defense Ministry. Like New Delhi, Cairo is interested in a fighter with maximized capabilities even though some of its systems is not ready yet.
According to Frolov, the IRST and EW equipment implemented in the Egypt-ordered MiG-29Ms may be used in the RusAF’s fighter jets in the future.
The Egypt-placed contract for MiG-29s stipulates at least 50 advanced fighters to the tune of more than $2 billion. MiG Corp. Deputy Director General Alexei Beskibalov said on February 6 this year that the corporation would deliver two MiG-29Ms to the North African country before year-end 2016, while it planned to fulfil the contract before the end of 2020, according to the Izvestia daily. -