For more than a decade, Russia has been trying to sell the MiG-35, an updated version of the MiG-29 fighter, to the Indian Air Force. Featuring heavier weaponry capabilities and more advanced engines and radars than the vintage MiG-29, the MiG-35 was first introduced to the world at Aero India in 2007.
At the time, the MiG-35 was preparing for an Indian Air Force contract to purchase 126 fighter jets. The Indian Air Force apparently was not impressed with the MiG-35, but Russia has continued to describe India as a future buyer of the MiG-35. Russia has offered the heaviest MiG-35 and Sukhoi Su-35 for the Indian Air Force tender for 114 fighter jets, valued at about $ 15 billion.
Now, just a week before the start of Russia’s largest airspace exhibition, the International Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS) near Moscow, is Russia offering India a mysterious ‘new’ fighter?
The United Aircraft Corporation of Russia, a conglomerate of offices and manufacturers of the country’s aircraft design, on Tuesday released a teasing video of the young fighter.
The video appears to show pilots in four nations in the UAE, India, Vietnam and Argentina waiting for the new aircraft. The Indian pilot is seen playing chess when he receives a text message saying, “It’s coming”. The plane’s alignment is shown only twice in the 35-second video: First, when it appears flying over desert terrain and second, its silhouette is seen flying over a body of water.
The appearance of the aircraft silhouette looks like the MiG-35 in its wing model. However, there seems to have been a single-engine discharge, creating speculation that it could be a lightweight single-engine fighter that Russian companies have been talking about developing for years. Stephen Trimble, defense editor for Aviation Week, speculated on Twitter the aircraft could be an update of the MiG-35 or a “light stealth fighter”.
Giving details of the project, UAC announced it would introduce an “entirely new military aircraft” on July 20th. A spokesman for Rostec, the Russian armaments export company, said, “Russia is one of the few countries in the world with full-cycle production capacity for advanced aircraft systems, as well as a well-known trend-setter in aircraft design. “The new product developed by UAC specialists should arouse real interest not only in our country, but also in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad.”
UAC has launched a website for the project which has been dubbed ‘Checkmate’, along with a timer for its official unveiling, expected on July 20, the opening day of MAKS.
In May, Russian news agencies reported that the design bureau Sukhoi was developing a single-engine fighter. At that time, Russia TASS the news agency had reported, “The Sukhoi company is developing a light tactical aircraft with an engine weighing up to 18 tons. The maximum aircraft speed will be over 2 Mach (double the speed of sound). It will also have super-maneuverability and improved take-off and landing performance, thanks to a thrust vector control engine … “Rostec had previously invited India to join the development of a single-engine fighter.
If confirmed as a single-engine fighter, the new fighter could be considered the Russian counterattack of the US F-35 project, which was developed in industrial partnerships with multiple nations such as the UK, Australia, Italy and Israel. This would also make the name ‘mat’ appropriate
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