MIG-35 v/s. Rafale? Which one is best choice for Indian Airforce??

For long Indian Air Force (IAF) has been having the requirement of 114 fighters after it scrapped the 126 MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) deal and purchased 36 Rafale fighters from France. The new MMRCA-2 called the MWF (Medium Weight Fighter) will acquire 114 new medium combat jets from a foreign company along with full TOT (Transfer of Technology) to manufacture the jet fighters completely in India, including it’s spare parts.

So, the stage is all set for yet another round of gruelling selection trials to fix upon the next major aircraft for the Guardians of the Skies. The MMRCA 2.0, as it’s fondly called, is another take on the MMRCA competition held a few years back to procure new fighter aircraft to strengthen the squadrons of Indian Air Force. MMRCA 1.0 saw two European machines at the final stage and the Dassault Aviation’s Rafale jet was finalized as the winner.

Unfortunately, the deal couldn’t be finalized between the Indian government and Dassault over ToT and was finally scrapped by the new government. As an interim effort, a deal for direct purchase of 36 Rafale jets was inked. Since the squadron numbers have been dwindling due to the retirement of obsolete equipment, MMRCA 2.0 was inevitable.

Contender #1 – The MiG-35 ‘Fulcrum-F’

Mig – 35 is based on Mig-29 ( kind of upgraded mig 29 which is a bit longer) which IAF already has .Mig- 29 has not so good track record as a fighter ,with smoky engines and poor serviceability . Mig-35 is upgraded with more advanced avoinics and the RD-33mk engine (which is not as smoky as the previous engine on mig 29),Mig – 35 is primarily an airdominance fighter with supermanuverable (it has thrust vectoring nozzles) capability,and it can be upgraded on the way easily to latest techs in time.

The plane has been designed as 4++ generation fighter by Mikoyan. It has been classified as a medium-weight fighter plane by the creators. Speaking to reporters, MiG Director Ilya Tarasenko described MiG-35 as “the best” and added it would beat American jet Lockheed Martin’s fifth generation combat aircraft F-35.

The aircraft also possesses the capabilities to perform aerial reconnaissance with special equipment. 

The primary function of the aircraft is to gain air superiority. It is also capable of performing all-weather precision ground strike. The aircraft also possesses the capabilities to perform aerial reconnaissance with special equipment.

MiGs have been used by India for almost 50 years and MiG corporation proposes its new products to India among the first countries and intends to continue supplying India with its most modern aircraft, the MiG chief said.

With over 100 + Mig-29 variants in operation fleet of both Indian air force and Indian navy, Mig-35 should have been an obvious choice for India but that clearly is not the case with Mig-35 due to troublesome Mig-29 service history with India.

The MIG-35 is powered by twin RD-33MK turbofan jet engines with 7% more power than the baseline RD-33 used in the MIG-29. The new engine negates the smoke-billowing characteristics of the RD-33 and now produces 9,000kgf thrust. The aircraft has a climb rate of 330m/s, maximum speed of 2,400 km/h and service ceiling of 17,500m.

With the capability of being configured with thrust-vectoring nozzles, it makes the MIG-35 Unique Indeed, as it will be the first light fighter jet to have the supermaneuverability feature. The aircraft is also touted to be superior to the Lockheed Martin F-35 used by the United States Air Force (USAF).

Mig-35 is an airdominance fighter and it’s maneuvering capabilities are superior to that of gripen ,performance wise mig is superior to gripen in speed ,range and combat load .Mig is superior in aerodynamics too. But IAF already has mig 29s already ,upgrading them would be efficient then ordering the mig 35s(thats what IAF has plans to do i.e to upgrade mig 29s) and mig 29s have poor service ability . As of now IAF is looking for a light single engine fighters such as F 16s and gripens . Eventough gripen lacks in performance the capabilities of gripen such as it’s superior radar ,EWS and avoinics gives it a edge over Mig 35s . In a mordern day air to air combat a decent fighter with superior avionics and electronics can take over an adversary who is super maneverable and muscular.I am not saying gripen is superior to mig but gripen have the capability to take down the migs yeah they can.



Contender 2 – Dassault Rafale

The Dassault Rafale is a French Twin-Engine,Canard Delta wing,Mulitrole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation for wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence.

Dassault Aviation announced on 22 March last year that French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has authorised development of the new RAFALE F4 standard.

Dassault underlying philosophy of the RAFALE programme is continuous development through a succession of standards to adapt the aircraft to changing operational and technical needs. A first version of the new F4 standard could be in evidence as early as 2023, the company stated, following the F3-R standard, currently scheduled for qualification in 2018 and that India will be getting.

India’s Rafale will deploy the in-development BrahMos NG missile in either a twin or single weapon load-out when the system is ready from 2021. The MBDA Scalp and BrahMos will provide planners with unique subsonic/supersonic stand-off attack options available to no other air force in the world. The Rafale deal also includes assurances for coding extensions to other in-development Indian weapon systems, including the Astra BVRAAM.

The Indian Rafale will sport the fully internal SPECTRA electronic warfare system, billed as the ‘cornerstone of the Rafale’s outstanding survivability against the latest airborne and ground threats’.

Rafale also makes extensive use of radar-absorbent material (RAM) in the form of paints and other materials. RAM forms a saw-toothed pattern on the wing and canard trailing edges, for instance. The aircraft is designed to, so that its untreated radar signature is concentrated in a few strong “spikes,” which are then suppressed by the selective use of RAM.

The Rafale is equipped with an RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar developed by Thales, which has look-down and shoot-down capabilities and it can track up to eight targets simultaneously and provides threat identfications and prioritisation.

Active electronic scanning makes it possible to switch radar modes quickly, thereby enabling operational functions to run simultaneously.

In short, the Rafale can carry a wide range of weapons, and perform air to air, air to ground, and air to sea combat well.



The Rafale has advance technologies to perform the multirole capabilities which i can say is much better over the MIG-35. Rafale has lower RCS due to its design features. The MIG-35 is more agile as it uses thrust vectoring nozzle to perform very tight turns at various speed. An ideal performance in close combat. However we can’t really determine the exact agility of the Rafale against the MIG-35. The agility for Rafale could also be seen with it canards, but there is certain limitation of the canard performance that could make Rafale a super agile fighter. The MIG-35 could perform various performance and maneuverers that Rafale can’t as it utilise its vectoring nozzles. So agility score goes to the MIG-35 while the long range, technology and mission profile goes to the Rafale.

In terms of technologies, i always feel the Russians tend to lag in quality of avionics, cockpit arrangements, ergonomics, you know, building a pilot’s aeroplane. Its concerns is also on looks but looking closely the radar technology maybe behind from the west but i think it was built in that way due to the harsh environment the MIG will have to endure. What it lags in terms of technology it makes up for in great agility.

Rafale is definitely a better strike platform, payload range seems enormous and weapons fit is superb. They may quite matched in air defence, depending on what radar and missiles you get. For dogfighting the mig used to be almost unbeatable with high off boresight missiles and great power and wing loading.


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