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MiG Design and Production System: Post-Soviet Transformations


MiG group in 1992

In this article the MiG design and production system stands for the entity of industrial facilities and design offices for which MiG fighters are the end product. The group does not include the designers or manufacturers of components and subsystems: avionics, engines or weaponry.

By 1992 the MiG-31 (Foxhound) tandem two-seat all-weather interceptor and the MiG-29 (Fulcrum) air superiority fighter had formed the group's main product line. Both belong to the fourth generation of combat aircraft. The pro­duction of fighters of the third generation — MiG-23, MiG-27 (Flogger) and MiG-25 (Fox­bat) — had been stopped by the beginning of the period in question.

At the time of the collapse of the USSR the MiG group consisted of the following elements:

1. The aircraft designer - Mikoyan Design Bureau, later renamed the Aviation Research and Production Complex “MiG” and then trans­formed into the MAPO Engineering Center.

2. The main industrial facility serially manufac­turing the single-seat modification of MiG-29 — the Moscow Aircraft Production Organization (MAPO) named after P.A. Dementyev. It con­sisted of the “Znamya Truda” Moscow Engi­neering Plant and the Loukhovitsky Machine-Building Plant that had the status of a MAPO subsidiary.

3. The Nizhny Novgorod-based Aircraft-Building Plant Sokol serially manufacturing MiG-29UB (a two-seat modification of MiG-29) and the MiG-31 all-weather interceptor.

There is no reliable statistics on the delivery of MiG fighters to the Soviet/Russian Air Force and Air Defense or export volumes but only some indirect information to this end. Thus the book "Russian Arms: War and Peace" contains the data1, placed in the table on page 26.

The MiG-21 (Fishbed) fighter was manufac­tured in about 12,000 pieces. It is an unparal­leled record-breaker in the world in both pro­duction volumes and the length of its airframe's service life that exceeded 40 years2

“Znamya Truda” launched its production in 1962. Today some 5,000 MiG-21s still remain on the Air Forces of 50 countries3. In the 1970s the average annual output of these fighters at “Znamya Truda” approached 500 units.

In 1969 the plant launched the production of the MiG-23(Flogger) fighter with maximum annual pro­duction volumes reaching 480 aircraft4. Today 26 countries use 1,500 aircraft of this model: 50% of them MiG-23ML, MiG-23MLD, MiG-23MF and MiG-23MS fighters, 30% of them the MiG-23BN ground attack version, the rest - MiG-23UB trainers5.

The output of MiG-29(Fulcrum) fighters has exceeded 1,300 units, some 300 of which have been ex­ported6. In the 1980s their annual production was below 200 units. In 1986 the Soviet leader­ship put forward the task of raising their annual production to 5007. The target figure was never achieved, but in 1988 the Dementyev plant turned out 228 of MiG-29s and 50 kits for the two-seat trainer version assembled at Sokol plant8. That was the highest figure, and beginning with 1989 the annual production of MiG-29 went downhill.

Institutional dynamics of MiG group

Forced orientation on exports

Immediately after the beginning of economic re­forms in Russia MAPO and other parts of the MiG group had to start looking for foreign con­tracts instead of relying on government orders for the Russian Air Force. In 1992 the Russian army adopted the policy of reducing the number of weapons types, including aircraft. As fighters of the Sukhoi-27(Flanker) family better met the needs of the Russian Air Force and Air Defense it was announced that the army would purchase pri­marily aircraft of these types. Such a definite choice of Sukhoi did not leave members of the MiG group any other choice than to try to penetrate the international market. In 1992-1994 the government issued several resolutions al­lowing MAPO to export MiG-29 fighters on its own. Still in 1992-1994 MiG-29 fighters were exported through government mediators.

Formation of MAPO “MiG”

In May 1995 the Russian government issued a decree on the merger of the Mikoyan Aviation Research and Production Complex “MiG” with the Moscow Aircraft Production Organization.

Countries with MiG fighters in their Air Forces in 1997



Middle East, South Asia

Pacific rim



25 countries

5 countries

6 countries

16 countries


20 countries

5 countries

2 countries

5 countries


14 countries

5 countries

2 countries


Source: “Russian Arms: War and Peace”, Moscow, ZELO publishers, 1997.

(MAPO) in a single MAPO “MiG” association. The decree declared it a single state-owned company based on the right to economic opera­tions9. The sides — MAPO and “MiG” — lost their independence as legal entities. It was as­sumed that the unification of the plant and de­sign bureau in one company which is regular world practice would allow to develop modern high-tech full cycle production and build a powerful corporation capable of successfully competing with the strongest rivals. MAPO “MiG” became the first vertically integrated company in the Russian military-industrial com­plex. It was MAPO “MiG” that carried out the contract for the delivery of 18 MiG-29 fighters to Malaysia what was extremely important for Russia.

Formation of MAPO MIC, Alexander Bezrukov at the helm in 1996-1997

On January 25, 1996, the single state-owned company MAPO Military Industrial Complex (MAPO MIC) was formed under a presidential decree uniting 11 aircraft designers and manu­facturers as well as a repair plant and Aviabank commercial bank. It became an even broader corporate entity than MAPO “MiG” uniting the designers and manufacturers of subsystems and components as well as the fighter designers and manufactures.

The complex consisted of the following mem­bers:

  • Moscow Aircraft Production Organization “MiG”,

  • Kamov Company - helicopter design bureau (Lyubertsy, Moscow region),

  • Ryazan-based State Instrument-Making Plant manufacturing N-019 radars for MiG-29 fight­ers,

  • Elektroavtomatika Design Bureau (St. Peters­burg) designing onboard computers, cockpit displays and control panels,

  • Perm-based Instrument-Making Company manufacturing onboard computers, cockpit dis­plays and control panels,

  • V.I. Klimov Plant (St. Petersburg) designing RD-33 engines for MiG-29, turboprop and shaft-turbine engines,

  • Moscow Chernyshev Machine-Building Enter­prise manufacturing RD-33 engines,

  • “Soyuz” Machine-Building Design Bureau (Tushino, Moscow) in charge of operational de­velopment of serial engines,

  • “Pribor” Joint-Stock Company (Kursk) developing and making onboard calculators and weapons control systems,

  • “Krasny Oktyabr” Machine-Building Enter­prise (St. Petersburg) producing aircraft com­ponents,

  • “Aviatest” Research and Engineering Enter­prise (Rostov-on-Don) developing aircraft diag­nosing equipment, including the mobile diag­nosing set MK-9.12 for MiG-29,

  • Aircraft Repair Plant No. 121 (Kubinka, Mos­cow region) repairing and upgrading fighters,

  • Aviabank commercial bank

Alexander Bezrukov, former commercial director of MAPO “MiG”, was appointed MAPO MIC chairman, while Vladimir Kuzmin who retained the post of MAPO “MiG” director general be­came chairman of the Board of Directors. The Board members were top executives of compa­nies forming the military industrial complex and also directors responsible for the following sec­tors:

  • strategic planning, public relations and mar­keting,

  • foreign economic operations,

  • civilian products,

  • economics,

  • supplies,

  • finances.

At the time the MAPO MIC central office had a personnel of 20010 while the complex as a whole employed 100,000 persons11. The complex brought together facilities and institutions that used to be subordinate not only to the former Ministry of Aircraft-Building Industry but the Ministry of Radio Industry and even the Air Force (the repair plant in Kubinka). Complex members were capable of performing 96% of operations related to the development, produc­tion, upgrading and repairs of MiG-29 fighters12. MAPO representatives in unofficial conversations said “Progress” Plant in Arsenyev, Primorie territory (the manufacturer of the Ka-50(Hokum) helicopter) as well as other regular helicop­ter-makers were not included in the complex because of high production expenses in Primo­rie. The serial production of helicopters was ex­pected to be organized at the Loukhovitsky plant13. However, there remained the possibility that the “Progress” Plant would be added on to the complex.

Former presidential aid on military-techni­cal cooperation Boris Kuzyk who took most ac­tive part in the formation of the complex ac­counted the addition of the Kamov Company to MAPO to the willingness to guarantee the fi­nancing of its extremely promising projects, primarily Ka-50/52 helicopters at the expense of the returns from the exports of MiG-29 fight­ers. Besides, it was believed that the integration of helicopter-makers in MAPO would allow ap­plying technical solutions initially typical only of fighters in the operational development of Ka-50 and the designing of Ka-52(Hokum B). Thus the par­ticipation of helicopter-makers was aimed at in­tegrating the technological as well as invest­ment potentials of the manufactures of MiG-29 and Ka-50. Besides, it helped to form a diversi­fied complex capable of painlessly surviving pe­riods of low demand for individual products thanks to the versatility of output.

However, an acute conflict broke out between the leadership of the complex and the leadership of MAPO “MiG” immediately after the forma­tion of the complex. On a personal plane it manifested itself in the confrontation between complex chief Alexander Bezrukov and MAPO “MiG” Director General Vladimir Kuzmin. In November 1996-February 1997 MAPO “MiG” filed suits with the arbitration court to invali­date the official registration of MAPO Military Industrial Complex. The claims were rejected and the complex was recognized as a universal legal successor of MAPO “MiG”. In May 1997 the Moscow Registration Chamber dropped MAPO “MiG” from the city company register and the State Tax Inspectorate  - from the list of tax-payers.

On May 28, 1997, a closed extraordinary session of the complex Board of Directors dismissed Vladimir Kuzmin from the post of MAPO “MiG” director general and chairman of the Board of Directors. Sergei Mikheyev, head of Kamov, was elected chairman of the Board of Directors while the post MAPO “MiG” Direc­tor General was left vacant. The Board of Di­rectors unanimously voted for Kuzmin's ouster. It seemed that the conflict had ended with the victory of Alexander Bezrukov's team.

Crisis of July 1997 and formation of “MAPO-M” MIC

However, on June 10, 1997, the government passed a resolution reorganizing MAPO MIC into “MAPO-M” MIC by adding the Myasish­chev Experimental Machine-Building Plant to it. The following day, on June 11 Alexander Bezrukov was dismissed from his post and on June 13 Anatoly Manuyev was appointed chair­man of the military-industrial complex. At the time the economic situation at the complex was very grave as it owed state coffers about $200 million. In 1996-1997 the complex did not manufacture or export a single fighter. At the same time, the size of the staff of its headquar­ters soared to 750 persons14. In addition to that a big scandal broke out related to taking a gov­ernment loan to the excess of $200 million for a nonexistent contract with India at the time when Alexander Bezrukov headed the complex.

On the whole, the conflict between MAPO MIC and MAPO “MiG” was a multi-tier colli­sion in which the following aspects can be sin­gled out:

1. The personal rivalry between Alexander Bezrukov and Vladimir Kuzmin.

2. Competition between banks for controlling the financial flows of the complex: MAPO bank on which the group of Vladimir Kuzmin relied and ONEXIM bank that played on the side of Alexander Bezrukov.

3. The clash between different concepts of re­forming the aircraft-making industry. Bezru­kov's philosophy of building the complex relied on government ownership and the unification of designers and manufacturers of components and subsystems. The program of restructuring the aircraft-making industry approved by the Minis­try of Economics led by Yakov Urinson was based on corporatization and the unification of plants and design bureaus on a sectoral basis — aircraft, engines, avionics etc.

The victory Vladimir Kuzmin's group in the ri­valry with Alexander Bezrukov was predeter­mined by the fact that he had won the support of Deputy Prime Minister Yakov Urinson who was in charge of Russia's defense industry at the time. Besides, in summer 1997 ONEXIM bank came under the strongest competitive pressure from other media and financial alliances resulting in the partial weakening of its posi­tions in the defense industry. Bezrukov's dis­missal also reflected the gradual decline in the influence of presidential advisor on military-technical cooperation Boris Kuzyk on government institutions.

The new “MAPO-M” MIC leadership adopted a policy of developing a more flexible form of as­sociation. The legal independence of MAPO and the Mikoyan Design Bureau were restored and the design bureau becomes a separate member of the complex independent of MAPO. Grigory Nemov was appointed Director General of MAPO “MiG” and Vladimir Kuzmin his advi­sor. On September 3, 1997, Mikhail Korzhuyev became Director General of the revived the Mikoyan Aviation Research and Production Complex “MiG”. In November 1997 Anatoly Manuyev resigned from the post of complex chairman and Vladimir Kuzmin was appointed in his place. Evidently, between June 1997 and February 1999 “MAPO-M” MIC and MAPO MIC coexisted in the legal sense.

In 1997-1999 efforts were radically stepped up to develop a multirole fighter of the four plus generation MiG-29SMT and the two-seat strike version for special operations with the “Osa” radar of a new generation MiG-29UBT and also to revive the program of preparing the first flight of an MFI (project 1.44) prototype fighter of the fifth generation. Intensive con­tacts continued with Malaysia on the sale of a second batch of MiG-29 fighters with enhanced ground attack capability.

Revival of integrated structure in 1999-2001

On February 2, 1999, Nikolai Nikitin, who had been deputy Director General of Sukhoi Aircraft Military Industrial Complex, was appointed head of MAPO MIC by a government ordi­nance15. The institutional changes of August 1997-January 1999 were fully revised in spring-early summer of 1999. The legal independence of all MIC members was eliminated and the air­craft-making part of the complex was consoli­dated. MAPO “MiG” was added to MAPO MIC. On June 3, 1999 the Moscow Registration Chamber registered the MAPO MIC charter with the new name of the enterprise: the Federal State Enterprise “MAPO Military In­dustrial Complex”16. The operations of MAPO “MiG” as a legal entity were stopped. FSE “MAPO MIC” became the legal successor of the entire property, rights and obligations of MAPO “MiG”. The main aircraft plant in Mos­cow was renamed the Voronin Production Cen­ter and became part of the complex. The Loukhovitsky Machine-Building Plant also be­came a member of the complex as a subsidiary. The Mikoyan Aviation Research and Production Complex lost its legal independence and was transformed into the Mikoyan Engineering Cen­ter.

On December 8, 1999, MAPO MIC was re­named the Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC) “MiG”. By July 2000 the aircraft production side - the Design Bureau, MAPO plant and Loukhovitsky facility - was fully reintegrated. In 1999 for the first time in its history the cor­poration compiled its aggregate balance sheet. Today RAC “MiG” is the first and only verti­cally integrated corporation in the Russian air­craft industry. However, the status of the de­signers and manufacturers of avionics and en­gines that used to belong to the military indus­trial complex remains unclear.

The corporation's technological policy has radi­cally changed since 1999. Thus, the strategy of upgrading MiG-29 was fully revised. When Mikhail Korzhuyev was the Chief Designer at the Mikoyan Aviation Research and Production Complex the strategy amounted to enhancing the capability of the existing radar and updat­ing the cockpit data display and control field. In June 1999 Nikolai Nikitin adopted a policy of developing a qualitatively new version of MiG-29SMT-2 that was expected to be coupled with a new “Zhuk-M” radar with slit aerial array and avionics made at Ramenskoe-based Instrument-Making Design Bureau.

In 1999 the corporation launched a project to diversify its product range. It was given the right to the operational development and serial production of the short-range aircraft Tu-334. The RAC “MiG” foreign trade service started a promotional campaign to sell the aircraft to Iran.

MiG group foreign economic operations

Export boom of 1993-1995

The MiG group reached its maximum activeness on world markets in 1993-1995. During that pe­riod 70 MiG fighters worth $1.8 billion were exported. The dynamics of deliveries is seen in the table below17:





Number of aircraft




Contract values, $ bln




Aircraft was sold to five countries: Iran, Hun­gary, Malaysia, Slovakia and India18. It is known from open sources that 28 fighters worth $800 million were delivered to Hungary by way of repayment of Russia's debts19. Different sources say eight20 or 1421 fighters were deliv­ered to Slovakia according to the same pattern. Besides, 18 fighters were exported to Malaysia for $560 million22, and 10 to India by way of repayment of part of an $830 million loan23. Given this unclassified data and also informa­tion about delivery times it is possible to esti­mate the time, number and volumes of deliveries to Iran24.

1995 was a time when Russian arms exports soared. While in 1994 Russia delivered arma­ments worth $1.7 billion, on 1995 the figure skyrocketed 65% to $3.1 billion. It was also a year of maximum exports of MiG-29 fighters (36 units for $1 billion). In combined exports MAPO “MiG” ranked fifth among Russian companies and the first in the engineering sec­tor25.

In addition to these commercial contracts in the framework of an intergovernmental agreement with Kazakhstan on compensation for the use of Baikonur space center and military test sites and also in exchange for the withdrawal of stra­tegic aircraft Russia handed over 19 MiG-29 fighters in 1995 and two more in 1996. However, it is not clear whether these fighters were delivered straight from the plant or from the Russian Air Force bases.              .               








Price, $ bln


Price, $ bln


Price, $ bln


Price, $ bln

























8 (14)



















Note: estimates in bold italic figures

Lost opportunities, dead season in 1996-1997

The exports of MiG fighters in 1996-1996 actu­ally stopped. The absence of export contracts may be accounted primarily to the institutional and managerial instability both in the MiG group and the Russian system of arms trade as a whole. The other factor was the absence of a MiG fighter of the four plus generation compa­rable to the U.S. F-16 block 60 or the French Mirage 2000-5, Mirage 2000-5 Mk.2 and Mirage 2000-9.

According to not quite reliable press reports, in 1996 MAPO MIC sold military purpose goods for $100 million26 and in 1997 for $200 mil­lion27. The sums were reportedly in receipts from the sale of spare parts and maintenance services.

In 1996-1997 MAPO lost several opportunities of signing relatively big delivery contracts with South American and European countries.

In December 1996 Belarus signed a $384 million contract with Peru on the delivery of 16 MiG-29S fighters and two MiG-26UB trainers28. Due to the poor condition of the aircraft the Peru­vian Air Force has lost two of the planes and cannot take more than three of the remaining 16 into the air. Belarus bought the MiG-29UB trainers from Sokol plant in Nizhny Novgorod and re-exported them29. [29]

In June 1997 Bulgaria gave up the purchase of 12 MiG-29SM fighters and two MiG-29UB trainers for $450 million, which Russia was ready to offer against a loan. The intensive stage of the talks took place in April-May 1997. Bulgaria renounced the deal because the IMF had insisted that the country reduce spending on arms purchases.

At the end of 1997 “Rosvoorouzhenie” arms trader failed in its attempt to sell 18 MiG-29 fighters for up to $600 million to Ecuador.

According to unofficial reports, a contract for the delivery of five MiG-29SM fighters to India was prepared for signing in summer 1997 but remained unsigned due to the reshuffle in the MiG group leadership. According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, in 1998  Belarus  signed  another  major

contract, this time on delivering 36 MiG-29 fighters to Algeria. This is indirectly confirmed by the contract for eight MiG-29 trainers con­cluded with Belarus on August 18, 1999 during the fourth Moscow International Aerospace Show.

The only big contract in 1996-1998 was the $145 million agreement on organizing the pro­duction of the TV-117 turboprop engine under license in Iran. However, it is not clear who collected the receipts from the contract — MAPO MIC or the engine designer - Klimov Plant in St. Petersburg.

In addition to the above-mentioned efforts, which progressed almost until the stage of signing contracts, MAPO MIC had contacts on possible deliveries of different modifications of MiG-29 with the Philippines (18 units), Fin­land and Austria (up to 24 units). The deliveries to Austria were conceived as payment of $3 billion of Russian debts. Negotiations were especially active in 1996 and the beginning of 200130.

Germany was energetically lobbied to renounce purchases of the Eurofighter-2000 and acquire several dozen MiG-29M instead. The lobbying was supported by McDonnell Douglas in the hope that if Germany withdrew from the pro­gram of a common European fighter, the project would fail and the German - and in a broader sense the entire European market, except for France, - would be taken by F-18 fighter-bombers. There is unofficial information about active contacts between the MAPO MIC strate­gic planning, pubic relations and marketing service and McDonnell Douglas in autumn 199631.

MAPO MIC representatives also contacted In­donesian officials who were eyeing Russian fighters after rejecting the purchase of F-16. From the very start all these projects were re­garded as highly unlikely and much headway was not made on any of them.

Revival in 1998-1999, the “Loukhovitsy strategy”

The first signs of a certain improvement started appearing at the end of 1998. According to MAPO MIC Chairman Vladimir Kuzmin, that year the complex signed contracts totaling some $300 million32. The implementation of some re­portedly began in 1998; others were slated for the first quarter of 1999.  The contracts pro­vided for the delivery of aircraft and spare parts, aircraft retrofitting and the training of the maintenance personnel. Vladimir Kuzmin re­fused to name the countries with which the con­tracts were signed, but it is known that in 1998 MAPO MIC delivered three MiG-29 fighters to Peru. Under the contract the remaining 17 out of the 18 MiG-29 delivered by Belarus in 1996-1997 were to be repaired and returned to com­bat capability33.

Unofficial reports say the fighters had been de­livered at a price of $14 million apiece which brings the size of the deal to $42 million. Be­sides, in 1998 six aircraft were delivered to Eri­trea at a price of $8 million apiece ($48 million in total).

However, it must be noted that the Russian re­port to the U.N. Register of Conventional Arms in 1998 mentions only deliveries to Eritrea and two fighters to Belarus. One of the possible ex­planations may be that the deliveries to Peru were documented as re-exportation via Belarus.

In addition to the first batch Eritrea intended to buy six to 10 more MiG-29 fighters in 2000 but given the U.N. Security Council embargo on arms deliveries to the Horn of Africa the con­tract was never signed34.

In July 1999 the news came about a $124 mil­lion contract for eight fighters with Bangladesh. Under the contract 10% of the sum was to be paid by June 30, 1999, 20% within 90 days of the effective date of the contract and the rest over a period of nine years. Shipments were made in two installments — four aircraft in December 1999 and four more in February 200035.

Burma, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and other not well-to-do countries in South Asia and Africa are showing interest in MiG-29. This all goes to prove that since 1998 the MiG group has been implementing the Loukhovitsky strategy which amounts to selling at a discount several dozen MiG-29 fighters of the first modifications re­maining at the Loukhovitsky plant. Besides, in June 1999 a minor contract for the delivery of six Il-103 light utility aircraft to Peru was signed36. It is possible that the portfolio of South Korean orders agreed upon in principle during the visit of President Vladimir Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov to that country contains up to 40 IL-103 light utility aircraft for $6-8 million apiece.

Periphery of the group, Sokol plant and the MiG-21bis modernization contract with India

1998 saw the beginning of the implementation of the $325 million contract signed back in 1996 on modernization of MiG-21bis fighters of the Indian Air Force to MiG-21-93 “Kopye” modifi­cation. The contract involves the Sokol plant in Nizhny Novgorod that modernized two MiG-21bis aircraft both of which were sent for flight tests in India. The other MiG-21bis planes will be upgraded at the HAL corporation facility in India experienced in manufacturing MiG-27 fighter-bombers under license. Initially the con­tract was expected to be completed by 2000, but its implementation began only 2001 and thus should be carried out by 2003. In 2001 36 as­sembly kits (nine each quarter of the year) are to be delivered to India.

MiG group development projects

after 1992

Since 1992 the MiG group has been working on development projects in the following direc­tions:

1. Upgrading of MiG-29 fighters

2. Work on the MFI fighter of the fifth genera­tion

3. The development of a new basic jet trainer MiG-AT

Upgrading of MiG-29

At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union the group was serially manufacturing the MiG-29S modification. It differed from the very first versions, in particular those inherited by the German Armed Forces, by an increased capacity of the inner fuel system, a better control system and the existence of external fuel tanks. It em­ployed new software versions and carried R-77 (AA-12) medium range missiles. A total of about 50 such aircraft were manufactured, 16 of which were acquired by the Russian Air Force37.

At the requirement of Malaysia an export modi­fication MiG-29SD was developed in 1994 on the basis of MiG-29S with a mid-air refueling system and a reinforced wing design, which al­lowed increasing the bomb load from 3,000 to 4,000 kilos. Simultaneously the RD-33 engine was upgraded mainly to increase its service life.

The export modification MiG-29SE was also de­veloped on the basis of MiG-29 with radio elec­tronic suppression equipment and a somewhat bigger fuel store.

The next step in the process was the addition of multirole functions that are a distinctive feature of aircraft of the four plus and fifth generations. The MiG-29SM modification is capable of using high precision air-to-surface weaponry: Kh-29N (AS-14) TV-guided missiles and KAB-500 ad­justable air bombs. The process of fitting this modification with Kh-31P(AS-17) missiles was supposed to be completed in 1998. Air tests were com­pleted in 1996 and the aircraft itself was demonstrated on the ground section of the air show in Le Bourget in June 1995 and 1997.

The MiG-29SMT was demonstrated in August 1997 at the Moscow In­ternational Aerospace Show and it made its first flight in November the same year. Its greatest distinction from the previous modification is a 1,880-liter increase of the integral fuel tanks what extended the range by 500 kilometers.

The plans of further upgrading MiG-29 provide for boosting the integral fuel tanks even more and thus increasing the range, for adding two arms suspension points on outer wings (bringing their total number to 10), increasing the engine capacity, applying the thrust vectoring technology, and constantly updating avionics and computing facilities.

In summer 1999 a virtually new program of de­veloping a fighter having the same name MiG-29SMT was launched. It differs from the first version by the new “Zhuk-M” radar and dis­plays made at Ramenskoe-based Instrument-Making Design Bureau. This modification is now being tested. In January 2001 it was of­fered for the Austrian Air Force tender for the purchase of 24-30 fighters.

A naval version of a medium multirole fighter MiG-29K was made benefiting from technolo­gies used in MiG-29M. It has landed and taken off from the “Admiral Kuznetsov” aircraft car­rier cruiser but the Navy command decided to deploy a group of Su-33 (Su-27K) fighters on the ship. In this connection the MiG-27K project was frozen. As India may purchase the “Admiral Gorshkov” (Kiev class) and refurbish it to carry jump-jets the possible re­vival of the project is being discussed as well as the construction of a group of MiG-29K naval fighters with Sextant avionics for the Indian Navy.

MFI project

In 1994-1995 the open press started reporting that the Mikoyan Aviation Research and Pro­duction Complex “MiG” was working on a multirole frontline fighter of the fifth genera­tion described as MFI or project 1.42. The project was launched in 1986 in response to the beginning of R&D under the Advanced Tactical Fighter program in the United States. In 1989 the first full set of working blueprints was issued after which the construction of the first prototype began at a “MiG” test facility. MFI was supposed to become a multirole fighter with all the capabilities of the fifth generation: low radar visibility, internally carried weaponry, cruising supersonic speed, air superiority, a ra­dar with phased array and electronic scanning of the diagram capable of engaging and hitting 20 targets simultaneously38.

At the beginning of 1994 the prototype was brought to Zhukovsky. In December it per­formed a high-speed taxi run lifting the front undercarriage leg. Later project 1.42 was frozen in the absence of funding39. However, after Mikhail Korzhuyev became the head of the complex the MFI project was resumed and in January 1999 the prototype made its first public appearance at the airfield in Zhukovsky. At the end of February 2000 the prototype made its first flight but then the program was frozen again.

Trainer of a new generation

Since 1991 “MiG” has been participating in the Russian Air Force tender for the development of a new trainer to replace the obsolete Czech L-29/39/59 trainers. The project is named MiG-AT. The Yakovlev Design Bureau with its Yak-130/131 project is a competitor of “MiG”. Both programs from the very start have been intended as international and aimed at satisfying Russia's needs and having a significant export potential. The MiG-AT project involves the French SNECMA engine manufacturer and the French Sextant avionics maker. The cost of operations of the Russian side is estimated at 68% of the total and the French at 32%40. The target price of a MiG-AT is $12 million41. MAPO experts have estimated the market capacity for trainers at 1,200 units.

The prototype made its first public appearance in 1995 and its first flight in March 1996. At the Moscow International Aerospace Show in August 1997 the one-seat combat-trainer version termed as MiG-ATS was demonstrated. A naval version of a light strike aircraft is also expected to be developed.

During the visit of French President Jacques Chirac to Moscow in November 1997 a contract was signed for the delivery of 10 kits of avionics and engines for the production of the first 10 se­rial MiG-AT. The French government offered a 100 million FFR loan against guarantees of the Russian government for the purchase of French components42.

It seems that the MiG-AT is the most successful innovative project of the complex, but its com­mercial prospects remain vague. The Russian Air Force is inclined in favor of the cheaper option of upgrading the existing L-39/59 trainers. In any case today the Russian and French Air Forces cannot afford to purchase advanced trainers of a new generation. India, Venezuela and South Africa could have been possible foreign buyers of MiG-AT. However, Venezuela and South Africa have opted for a combination of Italian and British trainers. India also chose Hawk trainer made by BAe systems. It should be borne in mind that the commercial prospects of MiG-AT would become even dimmer after the implementation of the ambitions German and South Korean projects of supersonic trainers of a new generation AT-2000 (DASA) and KTX-2 (Samsung Aerospace).

Conversion projects

RAC “MiG” is bending efforts to diversify its operations. The serial plant in Moscow manu­factures the “Aviatika” super light aircraft. The Loukhovitsky subsidiary has organized the pro­duction of the Il-103 light utility aircraft and is working to start the manufacture of the Ka-62 helicopter (a civilian modification of Ka-60).  Besides, the Loukhovitsky plant has joined the production of the Su-29 sports plane. There are plans of launching the production of the Tu-334 short-range plane. In the framework of its diver­sification and conversion program RAC “MiG” intends to invest part of the returns from ex­ports of its combat aircraft into the project and also cover the cost of starting its production. The corporation is also ready to cover 50% of certification and testing costs43. On October 5, 1999 Vladimir Putin, then Prime Minister, signed a resolution on organizing the serial pro­duction of Tu-334 at RAC “MiG”44.

Conclusions and forecasts

The situation is currently developing under the influence of the following factors:

1.       The beginning of the active marketing of fighters those stand practically ready at the Loukhovitsky plant. The aircraft is offered at low prices to peripheral countries in Asia, Africa and South America. The total cost of the Loukhovitsky aircraft may range be­tween $500 million and $1 billion. The planes may be sold over a period of 5-7 years.

2.       The legal independence of the Mikoyan Aviation Research and Production Complex “MiG” and the Moscow Aircraft Production Organization has been eliminated, the RAC “MiG” managerial headquarters where the marketing and foreign trade services are concentrated again play the key role.

3.       The hostilities in Yugoslavia showed that MiG-29 is an outdated fighter with an ex­port potential only in marginal, besieged or occasional markets. Russia at the moment does not have competitive offers of light fighters. Such offers may be formulated either along the S-54/55/56 line of the Sukhoi group or the overhaul of MiG-29 beyond the MiG-29M/MiG-33 version.

4.       The possible causes of the lag of the MiG group in innovativeness behind Sukhoi are: firstly, the smaller upgrade potential of MiG-29 compared to Su-27, secondly, the periodic loss of legal independence by the Mikoyan Aviation Research and Production Complex. The constant personnel and insti­tutional upheavals at MAPO MIC also had a negative impact on the development of the group hindering the formulation of a long-term technological and economic strategy.

5.       The fundamental advantages of the MiG group are big factory stores of ready MiG-29 fighters for a total market cost of up to $1 billion and also the existence of R&D headway on the fifth generation fighter (MFI program).

6.        The survival of the group as an independent center of Russian aircraft making depends on the contract for naval fighters MiG-29K with India. A contract for a big quantity of MiG-AT trainers could be a serious success. It may be re­ceived from India, if the understanding on the purchase of the British Hawk trainer for the In­dian Air Force is foiled.


1 "Rossiiskoe oruzhie: voina i mir", Moscow, ZelO publishers, 1997, p.28.

2 Military Parade, January-February 1998, No. 1 (25), p. 77

3 Military Parade, March-April 1997, No. 2 (20), p. 114

4 Valery Rodikov. "MiG prodolzhaet polet", Neza­visimoe voyennoe obozrenie, No. 1, 1999, p.6

5 Military Parade, May-June 1998, No. 3 (27), p. 106

6 Military Parade, January-February 1998, No. 1 (25), p. 72

7 Valery Rodikov, "MiG prodolzhaet polet", Neza­visimoe voyennoe obozrenie, No. 1, 1999, p.6

8 Conversation with a source at MAPO MiG who re­quested anonymity.

9 Kommersant-Daily, 12.05.95, No. 86

10 Interview with MAPO MIC Director for Strategic Planning, Public Relations and Marketing Alexander Ageyev, Vestnik vozdushnogo flota, No. 7-8, 1996, pp.74-75

11 Ibid.

12 Igor Belov, "MiG bez boya ne sdaetsya", Rossiiskiye Vesti, 19.06.1997, p.3

13 Even such a successful group as Sukhoi faces the problem of high expenses in serial production in energy-strapped areas of the Far East. According to former press secretary of Sukhoi Alexei Bogatyryov, expenses at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Pro­duction Association are 20-30% higher than at the Irkutsk Aircraft Production Association.

14 Mikhail Berger, Viktor Litovkin, "MiG na shtopore menyaet pilotov i dvigatel", Izvestia, 04.07.1997.

15 Yuri Golotyuk. "Naznachen novyi gendirektor VPK "MAPO", Izvestia, 03.02.1999.

16 Interview with MAPO MIC Director General and Chief Designer Nikolai Nikitin, Krylya Rodiny, No. 8, 1999, p. 12.

17 "Rossiiskoe oruzhie: voina i mir", Moscow, ZelO publishers, 1997, p.27.

18 Ibid, p. 50.

19 Viktor Zamyatin, "Vizit ministra oborony Vengrii", Kommersant-Daily, 01.10.1993, No. 189.

20 SIPRI Yearbook. 1996, Moscow, Nauka, 1997, p. 451

21 E.Gordon, A.Fomin, A.Mikheyev, "MiG-29", Lyubumaya kniga, Moscow, 1998, p. 122

22 Sergei Tsekhmistrenko, "Visit Olega Soskovtsa v Malaysiyu", Kommersant-Daily, 07.06.1994, No. 103.

23 "India kupit u Rossii istrebiteli MiG-29", Kommer­sant-Daily, 21.02.1995, No. 31.

24 The table is based on the Register of deliveries of Russian arms and military hardware compiled by Marat Kenzhetayev, Center for Disarmament Problem Studies, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

25 Interview with MAPO MIC Chairman Alexander Bezrukov, Aviapanorama, November-Decemeber 1996, pp. 20-22.

26 Aviapanorama, 07-08. 1997, pp.44-45

27 Anatoly Sautin, "I malenkie kontrakty mogut dat’ bolshuyu pribyl", Aviarynok, November 1997.

28 The Military Balance 1998/1999, The International Institute for Strategic Studies. P. 209

29 The U.N. Register of Conventional Arms

30 Marat Zubko, "MiG vkluchilis’ v borbu za avstri­iskii kontrakt", Finansovye Izvestia, 26.09.1996, p.1

31 A conversation with a source in DASA who re­quested anonymity.

32 INFO-TASS electronic database, «Vega» base, 30.11.1998

33 Sergei Sokut, "MiGi na eksport", Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 02.12.1998, No. 226 (1797), p.1

34 Kommersant-Daily, 18.12.1998, No. 236, p.4

35 Arms Trade Insider, June 1999, No. 20

36 Voenno-tekhnicheskoe sotrudnichestvo, June 14-20, 1999, No. 24, p. 48

37 V.Ilyin, "Boevye samolety Rossii. Kratkii spra­vochnik", Aviatsiya i Kosmonavtika, No. 8 (29), 1997.

38 Igor Korotchenko, "Supernovinka MiG zhdet ko­mandu na vzlet", Nezavisimoe voyennoe obozrenie, December 25, 1998 - January 14, 1999, No. 49, 1998, p.3.

39 Ibid.

40 Yezhenedelnik Aviatsii i Kosmicheskoi Tekhnologii, Summer 1996, pp.5-6

41 Ibid.

42 Valery Rodikov, "MAPO «MiG» poluchaet gospod­derzhku Frantsii", Nezavisimoe voyennoe obozrenie, 14-20.11. 1997.

43 Krylya Rodiny, No. 8, 1999, p. 13.

44 Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 05.11.1999

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