The Indian Air Force MiG-29 UPG known as Baaz is the air superiority fighter and forms the second line of defence for the IAF after the Sukhoi Su-30MKI. The IAF operates 69 MiG-29s.
The MiG 29 Fulcrum was designed as an all-weather interceptor aircraft for gaining and maintaining air superiority above the battlefield. MiG-29 was intended to operate from small makeshift bases, located closely to the ground operations, moving forward into enemy territory with the forward line of own troops. Additionally MiG-29 should give a certain close air support and protection to the ground forces when air superiority had already been archived. The aircraft’s general layout was determined by requirements for high maneuverability, a heavy air-to-air and air to-ground weapons load, high maintainability and reliability, the latter being off less importance than the others.
The result was a design solution for the fuselage, which produces 40% of the aircraft’s lift on its own. Generously sized wing leading edge extensions (LERXs) add to MiG-29 performances and lift. High thrust Klimov RD-33 engines and low wing loads ensure a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1:1, (1.00). The twin vertical stabilizers ensure high stability during air combat. The air intakes were put underneath the fuselage to allow an unhindered airflow into the engines even under high angles of attack (AoA) and heavy maneuvering. To each one a hatch was added, closing the engine intake while taxiing on the ground to prevent foreign objects from being sucked in, especially on unpaved runways. While taxiing the combustion-air to the engines is provided via upper auxiliary intakes on the surface of the wings.
All Indian MiG-29 UPG variants feature a KOLS 29 IRTS (Infrared Track and Scan) system in front of the windshield and a laser range finder underneath the nose allowing, together with information given by GCI officers (Ground Controlled Interception), “silent” approaches. The search angles of the KOLS are 30° to either side of the nose and +30°/-15° in elevation. The detection range depends on the weather situation as with increasing humidity the ranges are reduced, however, the technical manual from the manufacturer state a 5-7 nautical miles (NM) head on tracking range and 1012 NM from the rear. Both seem to be quite unrealistic when comparing them to the detection ranges of an AIM 9 Sidewinder seeker head. A glance into the cockpit let all possible similarity to Western state-of the-art disappear. It is very small and with his helmet on, the pilot has almost no room to move.
The placement of the instruments in Indian MiG-29s is somehow lacking a Western order and makes their operation by the pilot very difficult. The big bubble canopy and the one-piece windshield give at first glance the impression to provide good all-around vision. However, it is very much restricted because of the pilot sitting very low inside the cockpit and by some major equipment placed to the right and left of the already big HUD. Rearward vision is absolutely impossible and can only be archived by looking into the rear-view mirrors attached to the canopy framing.
As close in weapon it has a single barreled GSh 30-1 30 mm gun built into the left LERX extension, together with 150 rounds of ammunition and an available firing rate of 1,500 to 1,800 rounds per minute. Its maximum effective range is up to 4,000 feet; by using the laser its accuracy can be increased significantly. Standard missile armament consists of two R-27 (AA 10 “Alamo”) attached to the inner, and up to four IR-missiles such as the R-50 (AA 8 “Aphid”) and R-73 (AA 11 “Archer”) attached to the outer wing stations. The pilot of Indian MiG-29 UPG have Soviet ZSh-5 helmet with the helmet-mounted sight attached to the oxygen mask. This helmet is somewhat different in comparison to her Western counterparts.
Indian MiG-29 UB trainer
The second “Fulcrum” introduced into IAF service was the MiG 29 UB trainer version of the MiG-29, however, with several modifications. It has only limited combat ability. The main modifications are the second cockpit for the instructor pilot (IP) or a passenger and the exchange of the N-019E radar with the PULI-31 S radar simulator. Although the real radar was omitted, both cockpits feature radarscopes, to simulate and display radar contacts, to allow proper training during radar-intercept courses. The second cockpit reduces the limited fuel quantity, giving her even less on-station-time than the fighter version. To observe the landing performance of the pupil the US has a mirror incorporated into the large single piece canopy providing forward view for the IP. The trainer aircraft is only able to use the IR-missiles for self-defense and is lacking the inner two of the six under wing pylons. It has no chaff and flare capability as the tail fin extensions were deleted. MiG-29UB has a single barreled GSh 30-1 30 mm cannon with only 50 rounds.