India To Buy Mothballed Fulcrums from Russia

Mig-29N M43-03 flies together with a USAF F-22 Raptor at Cope Taufan 2014. 03 is one of the most pictured Fulcrum instantly reconigsable for its colourful fins simbolising the 17th Squadron,

SHAH ALAM: India buying mothballed Fulcrums from Russia. It appears that India has signed a deal to buy mothballed Mig-29 Fulcrum airframes from India. If this is confirmed it appears that any suggestion that India will be buying Malaysian stored Fulcrum will likely come to an end.

From Times of India.

IAF MIG-29UPG. Note the distinctive dorsal spine where extra fuel is stored. RAC-MIG.

The report says New Delhi is looking into acquiring 21 mothballed MiG-29 fighters and refurbished them to flying condition. An anonymous source said a team had inspected the airframes and found them in good condition. They were left un-assembled since the 1980s. It is likely that these jets will be refurbished and upgraded to the Indian Air Force Mig-29 UPG standard.

Two Fulcrums taking off for the flypast during RMAF anniversary parade in June 1, 2016. One of the last time Malaysian Defence saw the Fulcrums flying.

Buying airframes stored and refurbishing them to flying condition is much better than buying low houred airframes, of course. That said it appears that the story that India was looking at our stored Fulcurms in the past looked pretty valid though it must be stated that it was likely just one of the options that were considered by New Delhi.

No 17 Skuadron Fulcrums – M40-10- and M40-16 – taking part in the rehearsal on Feb 25, 2016.

With Hungary also selling its retired Fulcrums and a number of the same jet being put up for private sale it is high unlikely our own stored Fulcrum will get a buyer any time soon.

RMAF Mig-29N Fulcrum flies with a US Navy Tomcat. US Navy.

So whats the best option for them then? It is likely a number will be gate guards or placed in a museum, if we are lucky that is.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2227 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Prolly go for a SLEP and station them on permanent basis at Labuan until all the LCA is in full operation. Philippines and china threats are fast growing and we don’t even have anything to respond except a couple of manpads

  2. So india has been scooping up quite a lot of 2ndhand aircrafts recently

    – Mirage 2000s from France
    – Jaguars from France, UK and Oman
    – now new old stock MiG-29s from Russia

    BTW india has passed to russia some of its operational MiG-21s for Russia to use for its historic flight.

    On the MiG-29s. It is news to me that they still have 21 unassembled airframes from the 80s! I thought it has been finished long ago for export to Malaysia, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

  3. I have to agree with Sdr Alex. SLEP and refurbishing ‘seem’ to be likely for the long suffering MiG 29s! With less buyers out there buying the planes, we’re better off re-checking the viable options left. Who knows, them MiGs may fly again. Trust me, I’m not the only one wishing it’s so.
    BTW, if they’re old-new MiG29 airframes lying on some decrepit factory floor, there’s possibly some old-new MiG engines that’s for sale. Who knows. Better an old Fulcrum in flying condition than an F5E Tiger anyday.

  4. @ taib

    I would prefer an upgraded F-5E over an upgraded MiG-29 any day.

    F-5E operating costs are much more cheaper than the thirsty MiG-29s. It is said that us navy agressors F-5 flying cost is just usd7k per hour.

    Anyway if you have x amount of money, would you spend x on migs (and still have another different type to support) or spend x to get additional hornets? Migs are good planes, but in our circumstances, we must reduce our rojak to save operational costs, simplify manpower requirements (no need 2 different groups of tech, engineers, pilots for 2 small group of fighter planes performing similar tasks) and improve operational availabilities.

  5. “So india has been scooping up quite a lot of 2ndhand aircrafts recently”

    The IAF’s MMRCA program was intended to replace and consolidate those types. Instead they’re upgrading them.

    For those suggesting we buy the Tejas, you have to wonder why it isn’t fit to replace something as basic as the Jaguar.

  6. What are you guys dreaming about. If based on past experience with skyhawk, F 5s, even hawks refurbishing is the last thing on the government mind. (Except F18 ). RMAF baru must learn to unlearn the bad habits and start smaller and leaner. Hardware and software cost will inflate. Take worse case scenario and plan small and work with higher utilisation. Look at the Royal Navy. 19 major combatants worldwide ops. We dont even do that. Entah lah how many hours our fighter jocks fly a year. Just work with a squadron of 16 and work.them.hars maintain them well. Mindset change needed

  7. There are 3 factors that prompted the IAF to buy plenty second hand aircraft
    >high Mig-21 attrition rate
    >Tejas in perpetual unready state
    >IAF already have the experience and support for both Mirage 2000 and Mig-29.

    @There’s a reason why brazil chose to upgrade their F-5Es and retire their Mirage 2000 despite the mirage being a more capable aircraft

  8. Today is the date of APMM establishment. Happy 14th anniversary APMM!

    @ Shahrudin esa

    Our fighter fleet has always been small due to various rojak buy. So how smaller do you want to go? All previous experience is due to our culture of not taking maintenance allocations seriously (happens to all malaysian government bodies, not just the military). Look at thailand, they are still upgrading their F-5s (although I wont follow their style of rojak). Now the maintenance problem has affected MKMs too. What we need is

    1. Clear long term maintenance plan, with milestones on upgrades and phase out.

    2. Do not buy platforms because it has the highest performance. Get platforms that best fits our needed mission profile. Try to get a platform that could replace 2-3 previous platforms with just 1. Then get them in meaningful numbers (to consider planes needed for maintence time, spare etc.). The LCA/FLIT requirement should be able to replace missions done by MB-339CM, Hawk and QRA task done by MiG-29s with 1 platform.

    BTW just an observation of the Defence Ministers visit to the Mechanized Division HQ. He went there on the leased TUDM beechcraft king air 350 aircraft.

    Probably they finished their training allocation this month

  9. If India has the full capability to re-life the Fulcrums, why not ask them to do the same for our Fulcrums? With them back in service, the pressure on our MKMs being unavailable will be lifted significantly and we can afford to wait longer before getting MRCAs (hopefully 5th gen ones when we decided by then).

    Cause Russia don’t give them the license to do it and this includes the Flanker

  10. @Marhalim
    I understand that and while I don’t really advocate MKM SLEP to be done by India, due to warranty reasons, I see no issues for our Fulcrums.
    It is out of warranty and our relationship with Russia isn’t friendly enough for us to care if they are angry about it.

    Its not about warranty issues simply Russia not wanting a competitor for its companies

  11. @Marhalim
    I see…. but since Russia is selling India these unassembled planes, they would fully know and likely have given consent to India doing such refurb only for their own use, I guess. Quite sad to see our Fulcrums still have much life in them but consigned to static displays and such.

    Russia realized that they lose a lot of money as eastern European countries like Belarus and Ukraine has given contracts to overhaul Fulcrum and Flanker from other countries. They however are determined that the latest generation Fulcrum and Fulcrum will only be overhauled in Russia hence allowing India one of their biggest customers to overhaul their own planes makes sense but they hold the license for other users. It is the same deal Western manufacturers are doing.

  12. For crying out loud, we need planes that’s flying! Even F5s though it’s more of a rocket to begin with and little else. That’s why I put forward the idea of a refurbished MiG29. It’s a ‘bigger’ rocket anyway :-).
    If we want to have more pilots with higher hours, then the answer lies in beefing up our maintenance and support units. Can we be sure that the planes remain flying with all parts intact/ serviced/ replaced? I don’t want to have a situation that’s besetting our bigger neighbors south when they have fighters with only short range missile or refuelling probe that’ll give them the range to cover their outer islands. Even reaching Natuna Island is hurting their overstrained supply lines.
    FYI, Natuna is barely 200km from Kuching. Unbelievable!

  13. @ Taib

    MiG-29 has seriously short range, and extremely thirsty engine, which converts fuel not to thrust, but to smoke LoL

    From the german air force

    Even with two drop tanks, the MiG-29 is inferior when it comes to range. The radius was only 100-150 nautical miles (185-278km). Especially at high speed and low altitudes, the range is very limited.

    To compare, our hawk 200 has double that combat radius also with 2 drop tanks.

    Just to put it here the SU-30MKM combat range is 1250km at low altitude, 3000km at high altitude, all with just internal fuel.

    BTW our maintenance units are fine and has nothing to do with our low flying hours. The main reason is $$$$ or lack of thereof.

  14. What india did is not a model MY should follow. Upgrading The Migs will consume a lot of money, it is better for RMAF to look a brand new cheap but reliable fighter as a workhorse. It can perform training, patroling, and fighting/attacking (limited ability) such as TA/FA 50.

    Even india is buying old stock parts to save maintenance cost.

  15. I agree the MiG29 has limited ferry range at 900miles approx. on internal fuel. But the SCS is just a ‘pond’. It’s also primarily an air defense fighter, negating carrying loads over long distances. And also why we have airbases that’s just ‘a hop, jump and a skip’ away from each other.
    And yes, I agree. Point taken about the less than robust engines. And why I made that half-arse (pardon my language) comment about Mig29 engines lying in some abandoned factory waiting for a customer!
    Not least, I hope my remarks about maintenance is not taken the wrong way… I merely wish, as my brother above has pointed out, that they’re able to fully exert their role in servicing all planes minus hiccups due to lack of spares etc.
    I somewhat feel this forum is perused by some air force boys and a few MinDef officials. Good if they are too. More funds have to go to the maintenance units, more spares bought and with that, hopefully we have more planes flying.

  16. Additional info on the mothballed fulcrums.

    It turns out that those airframes are not from the 1980s. After some investigation by me, it looks like the airframes are from the cancelled Algerian order from around 2006. Algeria ordered a total of 36 MiG-29SMTs, with only 12 completed before Algeria found out that the planes was built incorporating used parts. The completed 12 units was returned and absorbed into russian air force, so those 21 must be from the uncompleted algerian order. Algeria instead used the money to buy more Su-30MKA.

  17. @Marhalim
    Ah, so India got preferential treatment for being a large customer. I see.

    I fully agree with you. No matter how old, a flying fighter jet is still a fighter jet with presence in the airspace. Though I am sad to see the Fulcrums being grounded due to lack of spares, there’s nothing RMAF can do about it unless our relationship with Russia is normalised and we can continue to buy spares & servicing from Russia (as pointed out by Marhalim).

    Realistically then, our only option is to buy planes,used perhaps, but then where’s the money? I would prefer us getting those used Kuwaiti Hornets but what happened, seems like no news anymore.

  18. The Canadian saga is pitiful in that having to acquire 30 year old interim airframes was entirely preventable.

    However it does look like the Indian situation is a worse one. India’s capability gap is more pressing, several solutions have been tried (developing the Tejas and importing the Rafale), and there is no indication that a new approach will be taken next time (no progress on the Rafale deal and pressure on IAF/IN to buy the Tejas just won’t go away).

    In buying the incomplete Migs, India is doing what the Canadians have done as a last resort. I wonder if IAF should have taken this approach sooner. Or if they will consider widening the approach to other types including Western ones.

  19. @ AM

    so what do you call a rojak in hindi?


    Anyway their predicament is all in their own doing, and a good example on what not to do.

  20. Tat was why sg got aster 30 smpt. The lates aster interceptor NT can shoot balistic misel with 1000km renge up from 500km renge.

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