September 4, 2013: Strategy Page
Russia recently announced that it would not, as earlier revealed, order 37 of its new (and still in development) MiG-35D fighters. Because of development problems, this order will now be delayed until 2016. The original price was to be about $29 million per aircraft.
Described as the equivalent of the American F-35, the MiG-35D would be the low-end to the high end T-50 (the Russian F-22). The T-50 is no F-22 and the MiG-35D is no F-35. The MiG-35D is a considerably redesigned MiG-29. The 29 ton MiG-35D is armed with one 30mm autocannon and can carry over (by how much is not yet clear) five tons of bombs. The big selling point for the MiG-35D is its offensive and defensive electronics, as well as sensors for finding targets on land or sea. This stuff looks very impressive on paper but the Russians have long had problems getting performance to match promises. This is particularly the case with the advanced electronics of the MiG-35D, which are running into problems because the F-35 electronics set a very high bar.
The 27 ton American F-35 is armed with an internal 25mm cannon and four internal air-to-air missiles (or two missiles and two smart bombs), plus four external smart bombs and two missiles. All sensors are carried internally, and max weapon load is 6.8 tons. The aircraft is very stealthy when just carrying internal weapons.
The MiG-35D has little stealth capability. The MiG-35D first flew six years ago, and there are currently about ten prototypes being used for testing and development work. The MiG-35D is expected to enter service some time before the end of the decade. The MiG-35D will sell for less than half of what the F-35 goes for (currently over $120 million each).