New Delhi: Indian Air Force is planning to acquire the retiring Mig-29N of Malaysian Air Force. Indian Air Force is very keen to buy Malaysian Mig-29N as confirmed by the Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak. This move of Indian Air Force is appreciated and criticized at the same time.
Indian Air Force has taken this step to stop the depleting fighter strength in the airforce. It doesn’t even have 70% of its fighters operational for any war like event. It is playing a smart card and has gone for a bartered deal this time. With this, Indian Air Force is willing to share the spare parts of its Su-30Mki with Malaysia. Malaysia needs spares of Su-30Mki for its Su-30MKM. Prime Minister of Malasia confirmed the barter deal between two nations “There is a possibility too that they (India) will buy our MiG 29 aircraft for refit. We reciprocate by accepting spare parts for our Sukhoi aircraft program,”.
Malaysian Mig’s are approximately 22 years old, which Indian Air Force is looking to procure and upgrade up to UPG level. Mig-29 UPG is currently one of the most advance Mig-29s in the world. The mig-29 upgrade includes ZHUK-ME AESA radar, RD-33 series 3 turbofan engine, IFR probe, an advanced weapon control system and avionics. The UPG upgrades will cost India $13 Million, and a new Mig-29 can cost up to $22 million dollars. Indian is cleverly saving $9 Million dollars on each aircraft. After the upgrade, the aircraft will have more strengths.
India hasn’t acquired second-hand jets for the first time. India Air Force acquired sparely used 10 Mirage 2000HS from France as Attrition replacement acquired sparely used 10 Mirage 2000HS from France as Attrition replacement.
The decision of India is wise because these jets can serve the Indian Air Force for 15 years. Indian Air Force is trying to get these jets to fill the gap, making their fighter more deadly and maintain the strength of the air force until Rafael and the fifth generation fighters come into service.
Mig-29s might have a reputation of being Troublesome and Maintenance prone but no doubt are is still one of the IAF’s premier Air Defense fighters in India and still, carry a fearsome reputation with them. With Nearly 110 Mig-29s operated by Indian Air Force and Indian Navy combined, India is the Second biggest operator of Mig-29s in the world after Russia and when Malaysia asked Russia and India help in getting rid of its 25 years old Mig-29N, it was obvious India chipped in.
India has agreed to examine if 12 Mig-29N operated by Malaysian Air Force can be upgraded and entered back into service with Indian Air Force or can be brought back to be used as spares but relatively newer Mig-29s then its own fleet gives high hopes that IAF may agree to upgrade them to latest UPG version before Inducting them .
Malaysian Air Force in 2009 had quoted asking price of 300 Million Malaysian Ringgit for 16 Planes which came to 18.75 MR per Unit which translates into 4$ Million a Unit for India if the price holds or India might also be able to fetch more discounts from Malaysia is yet to be seen. Myanmar was the last country to procure Legacy Mig-29 jets based on the original air frame design from Russia at around 31$ Million a piece. Iran was the first Country which showed Interest in acquiring this jets from Malaysia and was the first client who was OK with the price too, but Malaysian government decided not to accept their offer.
India was always perhaps the only country Malaysia was comfortable to sell the Fulcrums without any difficulty, among all other Mig-29 operators. India and Malaysia might agree for a Barter Type of Deal where the exchange of Money might not happen and Malaysia might instead be paid back by the supply of spares for its Sukhoi-30MKM fleet.
According to Malaysian Media reports, RMAF MiG-29N are in good conditions with Few air-frames have exceeded 2,000 flight hours which once upgraded to UPG Standard in India will be able to serve India for another 15 years.