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Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Jet that Shocked the West: Journey of the Russian MiG

The first USAF contact with MiG-15s occurred in November 1950. Soviet pilots showed scant interest in pushing their attacks, but Air Force pilots unexpectedly found themselves facing a formidable opponent.

Mr. Shahid Raza, a weaponologist, went to Twitter to write an Obituary for the Russian MiG. He started by saying Farewell to Artem Mikoyan (L) & Mikhail Gurevich (R), who started the Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) aviation company in 1939. The company would later go on to produce some of the most fearsome interceptor aircraft of the 20th Century.

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Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Iosifovich Gurevich were Soviet aircraft designers, and both co-founded the MiG design bureau.

Their designs included including the Mig-15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 31, 29 and 35 among others.


Some of these aircraft were defining factors of the aero warfare in Korea and Vietnam. Especially the Mig-15, 19, and 21s. It is dubbed as an aircraft that sparked a panic that sizzled through the US chain of command on 30th November 1950 when a MiG fighter overtook the US bomber which was attacking the US airbase in North Korea. No one knew but US intelligence just guessed that it was the Russian MiG.

MiG aircraft participated in every other major conflict in the 20th century as well.

The company specialized in the development of ultra-high-speed interceptor aircraft – designed to intercept NATO strategic bombers and spy planes, especially the Mig-25 Foxbat and Mig-31 Foxhound. In the latter half of the Cold War, they developed the venerable Mig-29.


Mig-29 was a direct answer to the deployment of the F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft by NATO. The Mig-29 shocked Western audiences with its awesome maneuverability when it first appeared at the Paris airshow. The NATO codenamed it the “Fulcrum”. This aircraft was also widely exported.


MiG took it upon itself to develop a 5th Generation competitor to the American, Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program that resulted in the development of MiG 1.44 as an answer to the American YF-22 and YF-23 prototypes. However, due to the failing Soviet economy, it was canceled.


The latest MiG aircraft is a new export variant that combines the modern systems of the MiG-29M2 with an AESA radar and manufactured by Mikoyan. The fighter plane has the thrust vectoring of the MiG-29OVT as an additional option.


The MiG-35 can climb at the rate of 330m/s. Its maximum speed is 2,400km/h. The normal and ferry range of the aircraft is 2,000km and 3,100km, respectively. The service ceiling is 17,500m. The aircraft weighs around 11,000kg and its maximum take-off weight is 29,700kg.


It did not see much export success apart from 1 export to Egypt. It was a part of India’s MMRCA tender, but India did not shortlist it.

Pakistan Air Force and MiG

Because of Pakistan’s accession to the Baghdad pact, CEATO/SENTO, and other alliances with the Western Ally, Pakistan Airforce could not buy MiG aircraft directly from the Soviet Union. After Pakistan was sanctioned by its American “ally” during the 65 war, Pakistan turned to China for aircraft.


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China was building Mig-15, 19, 21 aircraft under license from the Soviet Union. Pakistan consequently purchased the Mig-15, Mig-19 (F-6 Farmer), Mig-21 (F-7P/PG Skybolt) and A-5 Fantan that was a heavily upgraded Mig-19 for ground attack roles. PAF also flew a few Afghan MiG-21s that defected to Pakistan.