Why are Russian MiG-29 fighters still important to India?

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NEW DELHI – Today the Indian Armed Forces has more than 70 MiG-29 fighters, although they also have more modern and heavy planes, like the Su-30MKI. The Russkoe Oruzhie portal explains the reasons why Indian pilots continue to use Soviet and Russian production planes, preferring them over the French Rafale.

As the portal indicates, the MiG-29s are reliable, maneuverable aircraft with good attack characteristics. The main task of the MiG-29 is to repulse the Pakistani F-16s on the western Indian frontier, something with which it handles very well.

Before the heaviest fighters went into service with the Indian Air Force, the MiG-29 was the most important aviation aircraft in the country. India made the first orders for these Soviet aircraft as early as 1980, as the country needed a fighter capable of dealing with the US F-16 Fighting Falcons that the US had supplied to Pakistan.

The MiG-29 was great for this purpose, as it was built as an “opponent” to the heavier F-15 Eagle and had been invaluable during the Kargil War in 1999, when the MiGs successfully held Pakistani fighter jets due to their missiles and the general superiority of its basic characteristics.

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According to the publication, since the delivery of the first aircraft in 1985, the Indian Air Force has been significantly strengthened.

In the early 2000s a contract was signed with Russia to adapt the MiG-29 to the use of long-range R-77 missiles, which are capable of detecting and landing enemy aircraft out of sight. India would have started using these missiles even before the Russian Air Force, writes Militarywatch magazine .

Later, India purchased 45 MiG-29K folding wings, which formed the air unit of the only Indian aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (former Soviet aircraft carrier Kiev). India also hopes to use the naval version of the MiG-29 tailored to its Vikrant aircraft carrier, built in the country.

Although the MiG-29s have to compete with the more modern Russian Su-30MKI aircraft, the light MiG-29 fighter continues to be very important to the Indian Air Force, especially given India’s refusal to buy 136 French Rafale fighters because of its high cost and problems with the production of HAL Tejas fighters.

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