Modern avionics and systems may make flying a fighter easier, but also lead to more complex tasks at hand, says the lead test pilot who flew the new generation Mig-35 fighter at MAKS Aerospace Exhibition here.
Flying in the public gaze for the first time, the Mig-35, a 4++ jet, performed complex manoeuvers, including loops and vertical climb, with seemingly consummate ease.
Asked about the aircraft, Lead Test Pilot Mikhail Belyaev, who has been awarded the Star of the Hero of Russia, the highest honorary title of the Russian Federation, said it's similar to the MiG-29 that the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy operate, but much more advanced.
"There is new electronic equipment and new weapon systems. It is equipped with a range of air-to-air, air-to-land and air-to-sea missiles," Mikhail told IANS on the sidelines of the air show.
Comparing it to the MiG-29, he said: "It has a new airframe, fly-by-wire controls, a glass cockpit and night vision goggles. It is also capable of air-to-air refuelling."
Asked if it was easier to fly the MiG-35 compared to the MiG-29, he said: "For a MiG 29 pilot, the basics are same, but it would take some time to adapt. Modern warfare is more complicated. As the fighter jets become more advanced, so do the tasks assigned."
"The new equipment makes it easier to fly, but then, more challenging combat tasks are given. New tasks arise from existence of this aircraft; more complex combat tasks can be achieved."
Towards this were some of the manoeuvres performed: A vertical climb soon after takeoff to demonstrate engine strength and a Nesterov loop, a barrel roll and a complex tail slide to demonstrate engine capability and high angle of attack, among the other strengths of the aircraft.
The aircraft is also equipped with a version of the Phazotron Zhuk AESA radar that is capable of simultaneously detecting and tracking up to 30 aerial targets at up to 160 km away. It is also capable to simultaneously engaging up to six aerial and four surface targets.
The MiG-35 also carries a forward-looking opto-electronic system. Equivalent in its performance to the systems installed on Western fifth-generation fighters, it supports operations during both day and night, including in beyond-visual-range scenarios.
(Anjali Ojha is in Moscow at the invitation of the MAKS Aerospace Exhibition organisers. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)