Russia Offers India Tech Transfer to Sweeten Deal Amid Ongoing Negotiations for Large MiG-35 Order
The Indian Air Force is likely to acquire the Russian ‘4++ generation’ MiG-35 medium weight multirole fighter to complement its existing fleet of over 300 Su-30MKI heavy air superiority fighters – with the two platforms having been designed to fulfil highly complementary roles. India currently operates over 100 MiG-29UPG and MiG-29K fighters – the latter being a carrier based variant – with the country having been the first export client for the elite fourth generation aircraft. The MiG-35 bears a number of similarities to its predecessor from the previous generation, and MiG-29 pilots require only minimal training to transfer to operating the new platforms. While India had previously considered acquiring over 136 French built Rafale fighters to fulfil its requirements for a medium weight multirole platform and lighter competent to the Su-30MKI, the immense cost of the platform led to much controversy domestically while France remained reserved in its willingness to transfer technologies to Indian military aviation company HAL.
While the MiG-35 appears an arguably far more suitable aircraft for India’s medium weight fighter requirements, and key figures in the Indian Air Force have long advocated its acquisition, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has announced its willingness to transfer technologies alongside a sale of fighter jets. Should India seek to acquire the fighter jets, they will likely be acquired in large numbers – around 100 fighters and possibly much more after initial orders are fulfilled. For UAC such sales represent a ludicrous opportunity – particularly since the Russian Air Force itself has somewhat neglected its medium fighter fleet in favour of heavy platforms and has as such strongly prioritised acquisition of specialised air superiority platforms such as the Su-30 and Su-35 and strike fighters such as the Su-34. While the MiG-35 comes at a far lower cost to the Su-35, with a fraction of its operational costs and maintenance requirements, and the lighter platform is arguably more sophisticated in terms of its use of modern sensors and munitions, the Russian Air Force’s preference for heavy fighters has led it to acquire the Su-35 in large numbers – with over 100 built since 2014, while placing far more conservative orders for the MIG-35.
Regarding Russia’s willingness to provide technology transfers Ilya Tarasenko, Vice President of UAC, stated: “We are ready not only to supply ready-made aircraft, but also to transfer the necessary technologies and documentation to partner enterprises for the production of these fighters in India… The new model implies a transition from the system of providing scattered services and the provision of specific spare parts to the provision of standardised indicators of the final result: the level of system operability, the level of operational reliability of the material part, the total cost of ownership of the weapon system and military equipment for the customer, as well as average downtime.” He further stated that the MiG-35 had evolved to better suit the Indian Air Force’s requirements, and that the fighter “has changed dramatically in order to fully comply with the requirements of the Indian Air Force.” This statement came very shortly after the Indian Air Force placed an order for further MiG-29UPG fighters – seen as a temporary means of expanding its light fighter fleet in the interim until more heavy fighters could be acquired. While acquisition of the MiG-35 was already highly likely amid ongoing negations, the possibility of more favourable terms for a technology transfer from the Indian perspective make this all the more likely and could lead to a larger order for the aircraft.
Source:- Military Watch Magazine