|A Hungarian Air Force MiG-29UB at Koksijde Airshow in 2005|
|Role||Air-superiority fighter, multirole fighter|
|National origin||Soviet Union
|First flight||6 October 1977|
|Primary users||Russian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
Indian Air Force
|Unit cost||US$29 million|
The Mikoyan MiG-29 (Russian: Микоян МиГ-29; NATO reporting name: Fulcrum) is a 4th-generation jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union for an air superiority role. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983, and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other nations. The NATO name "Fulcrum" was unofficially used by Soviet pilots in service. The MiG-29 along with the Su-27 were developed to counter new American fighters such as the F-15 Eagle, and the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
In 1969 the Soviet Union learned of the U.S. Air Force's "F-X" program, which resulted in the F-15 Eagle. The Soviet leadership soon realized that the new American fighter would represent a serious technological advantage over existing Soviet fighters. What was needed was a better-balanced fighter with both good agility and sophisticated systems. In response, the Soviet General Staff issued a requirement for a Perspektivnyy Frontovoy Istrebitel (PFI, literally "Perspective Frontline Fighter", roughly "Advanced Frontline Fighter"). Specifications were extremely ambitious, calling for long range, good short-field performance (including the ability to use austere runways), excellent agility, Mach 2+ speed, and heavy armament. The aerodynamic design for the new aircraft was largely carried out by the Russian aerodynamics institute TsAGI in collaboration with the Sukhoi design bureau.
However, in 1971 Soviet studies determined the need for different types of fighters. So the PFI program was supplemented with the LPFI (Perspektivnyy Lyogkiy Frontovoy Istrebitel, or "Advanced Lightweight Tactical Fighter") program. The Soviet fighter force was planned to be approximately 33% PFI and 67% LPFI. PFI and LPFI paralleled the contemporary USAF decision that led to the "Lightweight Fighter" program and the F-16 Fighting Falcon and YF-17 Cobra. The PFI fighter was assigned to Sukhoi, resulting in the Sukhoi Su-27, while the lightweight fighter went to Mikoyan. Detailed design work on the resultant Mikoyan Product 9, designated MiG-29A, began in 1974, with the first flight taking place on 6 October 1977. The pre-production aircraft was first spotted by United States reconnaissance satellites in November of that year; it was dubbed Ram-L because it was observed at the Zhukovsky flight test center near the town of Ramenskoye. Early Western speculations suggested that the Ram-L was very similar in appearance to the YF-17 and powered by afterburning Tumansky R-25 turbojets.
Despite program delays caused by the loss of two prototypes in engine-related accidents, the MiG-29B production version entered service in August 1983 at the Kubinka air base. State acceptance trials were completed in 1984, and deliveries began the same year to the Soviet Frontal Aviation.
The workload split between TPFI and LPFI became more apparent as the MiG-29 filtered into front line service with the Soviet Air Forces (Russian: Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily [VVS]) in the mid-1980s. While the heavy, long range Su-27 was tasked with the more exotic and dangerous role of deep air-to-air sweeps of NATO high-value assets, the smaller MiG-29 directly replaced the MiG-23 in the frontal aviation role. The MiG-29 was positioned relatively close to the front lines, tasked with providing local air superiority to advancing Soviet motorized army units. Rugged landing gear and protective intake grates meant the MiG-29 could operate from the damaged or under-prepared airstrips Soviet war planners expected to encounter during a rapid armored advance. The MiG-29 was also tasked with escort duties for local strike and interdiction air packages, protecting vulnerable ground attack aircraft from NATO fighters such as the F-15 and F-16. Frontal aviation MiG-29s would ensure Soviet ground forces could operate under a safe air umbrella, moving forward with the troops as they advanced.
In the West, the new fighter was given the NATO reporting name "Fulcrum-A" because the pre-production MiG-29A, which should have logically received this designation, remained unknown in the West at that time. The MiG-29B was widely exported in downgraded versions known as MiG-29B 9-12A and MiG-29B 9-12B (for Warsaw Pact and non-Warsaw Pact nations, respectively), with less capable avionics and no capability for delivering nuclear weapons. Total production was about 840 aircraft.
In the 1980s, Mikoyan developed the improved MiG-29S to use longer range R-27E and R-77 air-to-air missiles. It added a dorsal 'hump' to the upper fuselage to house a jamming system and some additional fuel capacity. The weapons load was increased to 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) with airframe strengthening. These features were included in new-built fighters and upgrades to older MiG-29s.
Refined versions of the MiG-29 with improved avionics were fielded by the Soviet Union, but Mikoyan’s multi-role variants, including a carrier-based version designated MiG-29K, were never produced in large numbers. In the post-Soviet era, MiG-29 development was influenced by the Mikoyan bureau's apparent lesser political clout than rival Sukhoi. Some more advanced versions are still being pursued for export, and updates of existing Russian aircraft are likely. New fighter versions called MiG-29M/M2 and MiG-29SMT have been developed. Furthermore, development of the MiG-29K carrier version has been resumed for the Indian Navy's INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.
The Soviet Union did not assign official names to most of its aircraft, although nicknames were common. Unusually, some Soviet pilots found the MiG-29’s NATO reporting name, 'Fulcrum', to be a flattering description of the aircraft’s intended purpose, and it is sometimes unofficially used in Russian service.
Because it was developed from the same basic parameters laid out by TsAGI for the original PFI, the MiG-29 is aerodynamically broadly similar to the Sukhoi Su-27, but with some notable differences. It is built largely out of aluminium with some composite materials. It has a mid-mounted swept wing with blended leading-edge root extensions (LERXs) swept at around 40°. There are swept tailplanes and two vertical fins, mounted on booms outboard of the engines. Automatic slats are mounted on the leading edges of the wings; they are four-segment on early models and five-segment on some later variants. On the trailing edge, there are maneuvering flaps and wingtip ailerons. At the time of its deployment, it was the first Soviet and perhaps the world's first jet fighter in service capable of executing the Pugachev Cobra maneuver.
The MiG-29 has hydraulic controls and a SAU-451 three-axis autopilot but, unlike the Su-27, no fly-by-wire control system. Nonetheless, it is very agile, with excellent instantaneous and sustained turn performance, high alpha capability, and a general resistance to spins. The airframe is stressed for 9-g (88 m/s²) maneuvers. The controls have "soft" limiters to prevent the pilot from exceeding the g and alpha limits, but these can be disabled manually. In joint USAF-Luftwaffe exercises, the MiG-29 that the Luftwaffe fielded defeated the F-16 in close combat almost every time using its highly practical infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor and helmet-mounted display, together with the Vympel R-73 (NATO: AA-11 'Archer') missile
The MiG-29 has two widely spaced Klimov RD-33 turbofan engines, each rated at 50.0 kN (11,240 lb) dry and 81.3 kN (18,277 lb) in afterburner. The space between the engines generates lift, thereby reducing effective wing loading, to improve maneuverability. The engines are fed through wedge-type intakes fitted under the leading-edge extensions (LERXs), which have variable ramps to allow high-Mach speeds. As an adaptation to rough-field operations, the main air inlet can be closed completely and alter using the auxiliary air inlet on the upper fuselage for takeoff, landing and low-altitude flying, preventing ingestion of ground debris (foreign object damage [FOD]). Thereby the engines receive air through louvers on the LERXs which open automatically when intakes are closed. However the latest variant of the family, the MiG-35, eliminated these dorsal louvers, and adopted the mesh screens design in the main intakes, similar to those fitted to the Su-27.
The internal fuel capacity of the original MiG-29B is only 4,365 litres distributed between six internal fuel tanks, four in the fuselage and one in each wing. As a result, the aircraft has a very limited range, in line with the original Soviet requirements for a point-defense fighter. For longer flights, this can be supplemented by a 1,500-litre (330 Imp gal, 395 US gal) centreline drop tank and, on later production batches, two 1,150-litre (253 Imp gal, 300 US gal) underwing drop tanks. In addition, a small number have been fitted with port-side inflight refueling probes, allowing much longer flight times by using a probe-and-drogue system. Some MiG-29B airframes have been upgraded to the "Fatback" configuration (MiG-29 9-13), which adds a dorsal-mounted internal fuel tank. Advanced variants, such as the MiG-35, can be fitted with a conformal fuel tank on the dorsal spine, although none of them have yet entered service.
The cockpit has conventional dials, with a head-up display (HUD) and a Shchel-3UM helmet mounted display, but no HOTAS ("hands-on-throttle-and-stick") capability. Emphasis seems to have been placed on making the cockpit similar to the earlier MiG-23 and other Soviet aircraft for ease of conversion, rather than on ergonomics. Nonetheless, the MiG-29 does have substantially better visibility than most previous Russian jet fighters, thanks to a high-mounted bubble canopy. Upgraded models introduce "glass cockpits" with modern liquid-crystal (LCD) multi-function displays (MFDs) and true HOTAS.
The baseline MiG-29B has a Phazotron RLPK-29 (Radiolokatsyonnui Pritselnui Kompleks) radar fire control system (FCS) which includes the N019 (Sapfir 29; NATO: 'Slot Back') look-down/shoot-down coherent pulse-Doppler radar and the Ts100.02-02 digital computer. Tracking range against a fighter-sized target was only about 70 km (38 nmi) in the frontal aspect and 35 km (19 nmi) in the rear aspect. Range against bomber-sized targets was roughly double. Ten targets could be displayed in search mode, but the radar had to lock onto a single target for semi-active homing (SARH). The signal processor had trouble with ground clutter, reducing ranges in the look-down mode. The radar was also susceptible to jamming. These problems meant the MiG-29 was not able to reliably utilize the new Vympel R-27R (NATO: AA-10 "Alamo") long-range SARH missile at its maximum ranges.
These performance deficiencies stemmed largely from the fact the N019 radar was not, in fact, a new design. Instead, the system was a further development of the architecture already used in Phazotron's Sapfir-23ML system, then in use on the MiG-23ML. During the initial MiG-29 design specification period in the mid-1970s, Phazotron NIIR was tasked with producing a modern radar for the MiG-29. To speed development, Phazotron based its new design on the work undertaken by NPO Istok on the experimental "Soyuz" radar program. Accordingly, the N019 was originally intended to have a flat planar array antenna and full digital signal processing, giving a detection and tracking range of at least 100 km against a fighter-sized target. Given the state of Soviet avionics technology at the time, it was an ambitious goal. Testing and prototypes soon revealed this could not be attained in the required timeframe, at least not in a radar that would fit in the MiG-29's nose. Rather than design a completely new, albeit more modest radar, Phazotron reverted to a version of the twisted-polarization Cassegrain antenna used successfully on the Sapfir-23ML to save time and cost. This system used the same analog signal processors as their earlier designs, coupled with a NII Argon-designed Ts100 digital computer. While this decision provided a working radar system for the new fighter, it inherited all of the weak points of the earlier design. This reliance on 1960s-era technology continued to plague the MiG-29's ability to detect and track airborne targets at ranges available with the R-27 and R-77 missiles, although new designs like the digital N010 Zhuk-M address the serious signal processing shortcomings inherent in the analog design. Most MiG-29 continue to use the analog N019 or N019M radar, although VVS has indicated its desire to upgrade all existing MiG-29s to a fully digital system.
The N019 was further compromised by Phazotron designer Adolf Tolkachev’s betrayal of the radar to the CIA, for which he was executed in 1986. In response to all of these problems, the Soviets hastily developed a modified N019M Topaz radar for the upgraded MiG-29S aircraft. However, VVS was reportedly still not satisfied with the performance of the system and demanded another upgrade. The latest upgraded aircraft offered the N010 Zhuk-M, which has a planar array antenna rather than a dish, improving range, and a much superior processing ability, with multiple-target engagement capability and compatibility with the Vympel R-77 (or RVV-AE) (NATO: AA-12 'Adder'). A useful feature the MiG-29 shares with the Su-27 is the S-31E2 KOLS, a combined laser rangefinder and IRST in an "eyeball" mount forward of the cockpit canopy. This can be slaved to the radar or used independently, and provides exceptional gun-laying accuracy.
Armament for the MiG-29 includes a single GSh-30-1 30 mm cannon in the port wing root. This originally had a 150-round magazine, which was reduced to 100 rounds in later variants. Original production MiG-29B aircraft cannot fire the cannon when carrying a centerline fuel tank as it blocks the shell ejection port. This issue was corrected in the MiG-29S and later versions. Three pylons are provided under each wing (four in some variants), for a total of six (or eight). The inboard pylons can carry either a 1,150-litre (300 US gal) fuel tank, one Vympel R-27 (AA-10 "Alamo") medium-range air-to-air missile, or unguided bombs or rockets. Some Soviet aircraft could carry a single nuclear bomb on the port inboard station. The outer pylons usually carry R-73 (AA-11 "Archer") dogfight missiles, although some users still retain the older R-60 (AA-8 "Aphid"). A single 1,500-litre (400 US gal) tank can be fitted to the centerline, between the engines, for ferry flights, but this position is not used for combat stores. The original MiG-29B can carry general-purpose bombs and unguided rocket pods, but not precision-guided munitions. Upgraded models have provision for laser-guided and electro-optical bombs, as well as air-to-surface missiles.
The Soviet Union exported MiG-29s to several countries. Because 4th-generation fighter jets require the pilots to have extensive training, air-defense infrastructure, and constant maintenance and upgrade, MiG-29s have had mixed operational history with different air forces. For example, while the MiG-29s have an excellent operational history under the Indian Air Force which has invested heavily in the aircraft, it does not have a good track record while serving the air forces of other countries like Iraq, Eritrea and Yugoslavia.
The MiG-29 was first publicly seen in the West when the Soviet Union displayed the aircraft in Finland in July 1986. Two MiG-29s were also displayed at the Farnborough Airshow in Britain in September 1988. The following year, the aircraft conducted flying displays at the 1989 Paris Air Show where it was involved in a non-fatal crash during the first weekend of the show. The Paris Air Show display was only the second display of Soviet fighters at an international air show since the 1930s. Western observers were impressed by its apparent capability and exceptional agility. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, most of the MiG-29s entered service with the newly formed Russian Air Force.
In 1993 two MiG-29s of the Russian Air Force collided in mid-air and crashed away from the public at the 1993 Royal International Air Tattoo. No one was hurt on the ground. The two pilots ejected and landed safely. Investigators later determined that a pilot error was the cause, after one pilot did a reverse loop and disappeared into the clouds, the other one lost sight of his wingman and aborted the routine.
On 20 April 2008, Georgian officials claimed a Russian MiG-29 shot down a Georgian Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle and provided video footage from the ill-fated drone showing an apparent MiG-29 launching an air-to-air missile at it. Russia denies that the aircraft was theirs and says they did not have any pilots in the air that day. Abkhazia’s administration claimed its own forces shot down the drone with an L-39 aircraft "because it was violating Abkhaz airspace and breaching ceasefire agreements." UN investigation concluded that the video was authentic and that the drone was shot down by a Russian MiG-29 or Su-27 using a R-73 heat seeking missile. MiG-29s also performed close air support mission in the Russian support of Abkhaz and South Ossetia in the summer of 2008 during Georgian invasion.
The Russian Air Force grounded all its MiG-29s following a crash in Siberia on 17 October 2008. Following a second crash with an MiG-29 in east Siberia in December 2008, Russian officials admitted that most MiG-29 fighters in the Russian Air Force were incapable of performing combat duties due to poor maintenance. The age of the aircraft was also an important factor as about 70% of the MiGs were considered to be too old to take to the skies. The Russian MiG-29s have not received updates since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is because the Russian Air Force chose to upgrade the Su-27 and MiG-31 instead. On 4 February 2009, the Russian Air Force resumed flights with the MiG-29. However, in March 2009, 91 MiG-29s of the Russian Air Force required repair after inspections due to corrosion; approximately 100 MiGs were cleared to continue flying at the time. The Russian Air Force has now started an update of its early MiG-29s to the more current MiG-29SMT standard and have bought 23 new MiG-29SMTs.
India was the first international customer of the MiG-29. The Indian Air Force (IAF) placed an order for more than 50 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase. Since its induction into the IAF in 1985, the aircraft has undergone a series of modifications with the addition of new avionics, sub-systems, turbofan engines and radars. The upgraded Indian version is known as Baaz (Hindi for Hawk) and forms a crucial component of the second-line offensive aircraft-fleet of the IAF after the Sukhoi Su-30MKI.
The MiG-29’s good operational record prompted India to sign a deal with Russia in 2005—2006 to upgrade all of its MiG-29s for US$888 million. Under the deal, the Indian MiGs were modified to be capable of deploying the R-77RVV-AE (AA-12 'Adder') air-to-air missile, also known as the Amraamski. The missiles had been successfully tested in October 1998 and were integrated into IAF's MiG-29s. IAF has also awarded the MiG Corporation another US$900 million contract to upgrade all of its 69 operational MiG-29s. These upgrades will include a new avionics fit, with the N-109 radar being replaced by a Phazatron Zhuk-M radar. The aircraft is also being equipped to enhance beyond-visual-range combat ability and for air-to-air refuelling to increase endurance. In 2007, Russia also gave India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) a licence to manufacture 120 RD-33 series 3 turbojet engines for the upgrade. The upgrade will also include a new weapon control system, cockpit ergonomics, air-to-air missiles, high-accuracy air-to-ground missiles and "smart" aerial bombs. The first six MiG-29s will be upgraded in Russia while the remaining 63 MiGs will be upgraded at the HAL facility in India. India also awarded a multi-million dollar contract to Israel Aircraft Industries to provide avionics and subsystems for the upgrade.
In January 2004, the Indian Navy signed a contract for the delivery of 12 MiG-29K and 4 MiG-29KUB which will be operated from INS Vikramaditya. The first MiG-29KUB manufactured for the Navy took to the skies in May 2008. The first four aircraft were delivered to India in February 2009.
In March 2009, the Indian Air Force expressed concern after 90 MiG-29s were grounded in Russia. After carrying out an extensive inspection, the IAF cleared all MiG-29s in its fleet in March 2009. In a disclosure in Parliament, Defence Minister A. K. Antony said the MiG-29 is structurally flawed in that it has a tendency to develop cracks due to corrosion in the tail fin. Russia has shared this finding with India, which emerged after the crash of a Russian Air Force MiG-29 in December 2008. "A repair scheme and preventive measures are in place and IAF has not encountered major problems concerning the issue," Antony said. Despite concerns of Russia's grounding, India sent the first six of its 78 MiG-29s to Russia for upgrades in 2008. The upgrade program will fit the MiGs with a phased array radar (PESA) and in-flight re-fuelling capability. In January 2010, India and Russia signed a US$1.2 billion deal under which the Indian Navy would acquire 29 additional MiG-29Ks, bringing the total number of MiG-29Ks on order to 45. The MiG-29K entered service with the Indian Navy on 19 February 2010.
Indian MiG-29s were used extensively during the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir by the Indian Air Force to provide fighter escort for Mirage 2000, which were attacking targets with laser-guided bombs. According to Indian sources, MiG-29s from the IAF's No. 47 squadron (Black Archers) gained missile lock on two F-16s of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) which were patrolling close to the border to prevent any incursions by Indian aircraft, but did not engage them because no official declaration of war had been issued. The Indian MiG-29s were armed with beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles whereas the Pakistani F-16s were not.
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the first European country after the Soviet Union to operate the MiG-29. The SFR Yugoslav Air Force ordered 14 MiG-29s and two MiG-29UBs from the USSR in 1987. MiG-29s were put into service with the 127 Lovacka Avijacijska Eskadrila (127. LAE, Fighter Aviation Squadron), known as Vitezovi (Knights), part of the 204. Lovacki Avijacijski Puk (204. LAP, Fighter Aviation Regiment) based at Batajnica Air Base, north of Belgrade, in what is today the Republic of Serbia. The aircraft was designated L-18 (L for Lovac, fighter), or NL-18 ('Nastavni Lovac, trainer fighter) for the "UB" version.
Serial numbers of MiG-29 fighters in YuAF:
A total of 16 aircraft remained, since SFR Yugoslavia was in process of developing its own supersonic fighter aircraft, designated Novi Avion. The Yugoslav MiG-29s saw little combat during the war in former Yugoslavia, and were used primarily for ground attacks. Several Antonov An-2 cargo aircraft used by Croatia were destroyed on the ground in Čepin airfield near Osijek, Croatia in 1991 by a MiG-29. Several MiG-21 aircraft were brought down by Croatian forces, but no MiG-29s were lost during the fighting in 1991—1995.
The MiG-29s continued their service in the subsequent Federal Republic of Yugoslav Air Force and eventually in Serbian Air Force. During the long arms embargo placed upon the country, the condition of the MiGs worsened. Before Operation Allied Force began in 1999, Yugoslav MiGs were over 10 years old, and deprived of spare parts. Some were totally "stripped" for their spare parts, to get other aircraft in operational condition. In March 1999, Yugoslav Air Force Command had 11 MiG-29s considered operational.
A total of 6 MiG-29s were shot down, of which 4 MiG-29s were shot down by USAF F-15C, 1 by USAF F-16CJ or friendly fire SAM, and one by Dutch F-16AM. Others were destroyed on the ground and one crash-landed and was later destroyed, as it was placed as a decoy.
The unit continued flying its remaining five MiG-29s (at a very low rate) after the war, even if it had to replace the losses by MiG-21s evacuated from Pristina after the war. In spring 2004, however, news appeared that what was then the Air Force of Serbia and Montenegro ceased MiG-29 operations, because the aircraft could not be maintained. In 2007, all five MiG-29 were sent to Russia to be refurbished, upgraded and put back to service.
Currently, MiG-29s have resumed their service in the Serbian Air Force, in the 101st squadron, part of the 204th Air Base. The first MiG-29 became operational on February 2008, a second MiG-29 by March of that year, and a third by May. Another two became operational by the summer of 2008. The first public appearance of the overhauled MiG's was on 15 February, the Statehood Day. The aircraft was flown by Colonel Nebojša Đukanović, Chief of the Air Force and the Air Defense HQ. The second MiG-29 that is back in service is used for the training of MiG-29 pilots. Aircraft 18101, flown again by General Nebojša Đukanović appeared for first time with new low-visibility camouflage and markings. The third and fourth overhauled aircraft, together with the first two, flew over Belgrade on 12 September 2008. One MiG-29 crashed near Batajnica on 7 July 2009, killing the pilot and one soldier on ground.
The German Democratic Republic (also known as East Germany) bought 24 MiG-29s (20 MiG-29As, four MiG-29UBs), which entered service in 1988—1989. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and reunification of Germany in October 1990, the MiG-29s and other aircraft of the East German Luftstreitkräfte der NVA were integrated into the West German Luftwaffe. After upgrades by DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (now EADS) for NATO compatibility, they were designated MiG-29G and MiG-29GT. In March 1991, one of the MiG-29s in German service was transferred to the USAF for evaluation, along with several Su-22s and MiG-23s.
The Federation of American Scientists claims the MiG-29 is equal or better than the F-15C in some areas such as short aerial engagements because of the Helmet Mounted Weapons Sight (HMS) and better maneuverability at slow speeds. This was demonstrated when MiG-29s of the Luftwaffe participated in joint DACT exercises with U.S. fighters. The HMS was a great help, allowing the Germans to achieve a lock on any target the pilot could see within the missile field of view, including those almost 45 degrees off boresight. In contrast, the U.S. aircraft were only able to lock onto targets in a narrow window directly in front of the aircraft’s nose. It was not until late 2003 that the USAF and US Navy achieved Initial Operational Capability of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System.
Since 1993 the German MiGs were stationed with 1./JG73 "Steinhoff" in Laage near Rostock. During the service in the Luftwaffe one MiG-29 ("29+09") was destroyed during an accident on 25 June 1996 due to pilot error. By 2003, Luftwaffe pilots had flown over 30,000 hours in the MiG-29. In September 2003, 22 of the 23 remaining machines were sold to the Polish Air Force for the symbolic price of €1 per item. The last aircraft were transferred in August 2004. The 23rd MiG-29 ("29+03") was put on display at Laage.
The first 12 MiG-29 (nine MiG-29As, three MiG-29UB) were delivered to Poland in 1989-1990. The aircraft were based at Mińsk Mazowiecki and used by the 1st Fighter Aviation Regiment, which was reorganized in 2001 as 1 Eskadra Lotnictwa Taktycznego (1. elt), or 1st Tactical Squadron (TS). In 1995, 10 used examples were acquired from the Czech Republic (nine MiG-29As, one MiG-29UB). After the retirement of its MiG-21s and -23s in 2003, Poland was left for a time with only these 22 MiG-29s in the interceptor role.
In 2004 Poland received 22 ex-Luftwaffe MiG-29s. A total of 14 of these were overhauled and taken into service, equipping the 41st Tactical Squadron (41. elt) and replacing its MiG-21s. At present Poland has 32 active MiG-29s (26 MiG-29As, six MiG-29UB) which will serve at least until 2012—2015. They are currently stationed with the 1st Tactical Squadron at the 23rd Air Base near Mińsk Mazowiecki and the 41st TS at the 22nd Air Base near Malbork. As of 2008, Poland is the biggest NATO MiG-29 user. The possibility of modernising the fighters to enable them to serve until 2020–2025 is being contemplated, depending on whether cooperation with Mikoyan can be established.
From 2007, MiGs are supported by Block 52+ F-16s from 3rd TS (replacing MiG-21) and 6th TS (replacing Su-22), from 2008 F-16s will also be used in 10th TS (replacing MiG-21).
There have been unconfirmed reports that Poland had at one point leased a MiG-29 from their own inventory to Israel for evaluation and the aircraft has since been returned to Poland, as suggested by photographs of a MiG-29 in Israeli use.
In 1997, the United States purchased 21 Moldovan aircraft under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction programme. Fourteen were MiG-29Ss, which are equipped with an active radar jammer in its spine and are capable of being armed with nuclear weapons. Part of the United States’ motive to purchase these aircraft was to prevent them from being sold to "rogue states", especially Iran. This purchase could also provide the United States Air Force with a working evaluation and data for the MiG-29. Such information may prove valuable in any future conflicts and can aid in the design and testing of current and future weapons platforms. In late 1997, the MiGs were delivered to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, though many of the former Moldovan MiG-29s are believed to have been scrapped.
MiG-29s saw combat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War at the hands of Iraqi pilots. According to the USAF, five MiG-29s were shot down, all by USAF F-15s. Eight MiG-29 pilots managed to flee to Iran where their aircraft now serve in the Iranian Air Force, which now buys MiG-29s from Russia as well.
According to some reports, in the 1999 Eritrean-Ethiopian War, a few Eritrean MiG-29s were shot down by Ethiopian Su-27s piloted by Russian mercenaries. There are also some other reports of Eritrean MiG-29s shooting down two Ethiopian MiG-21s and three MiG-23s.
There are reports that on 14 September 2001 two Syrian Air Force MiG-29s were shot down by two IDF/AF F-15C while the MiGs were intercepting an Israeli reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of Lebanon. However, both Syria and Israel deny that this occurred.
There have been occasional claims regarding the use of Sudanese Air Force MiG-29s against insurgent forces in Darfur. However, whereas Mi-24 'Hind' combat helicopters as well as A-5 'Fantan' or, more recently, Su-25 'Frogfoot' ground-attack planes have been spotted and photographed on Darfurian air fields, no MiG-29s have been observed. On 10 May 2008, a Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) mounted an assault on the Sudanese capital. The JEM claims to have shot down during this action a Sudanese Air Force MiG-29 with 12.7 mm and 14.5 mm heavy machine gun fire while it was attacking a convoy of vehicles in the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman. The aircraft was supposed to be piloted by a Russian mercenary. He was claimed to have been killed in action as his parachute did not open after ejecting. The Sudanese Government has denied the loss.
The MiG-29 is available for flights of civilian passengers. Civilian flights started due to financial problems on Gromov Flight Research Institute in the Russian city Zhukovsky. Those flights in Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25, MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 stopped in July 2006, when civilian flights in MiG-29 and Mikoyan MiG-31 started from Nizhny Novgorod.
There are currently several upgrade programmes conducted by the Russian Air Force for MiG-29 fighters which envisage: upgrading of the avionics suite to comply with NATO / ICAO (www.icao.int) standards, extension of the aircraft service life to 4,000 flight hours (40 years), upgrading combat capabilities and reliability, safety enhancements. In 2005 the Russian Aircraft Corporation “MiG” started production of new unified family of multi-role fighters of the 4++ generation (aircraft-carrier based MiG-29K, front-line MiG-29M and MiG-35 fighters).
There are several museums in Russia that display MiG-29s:
Several MiG-29s are on display in Europe:
MiG-29s are currently on display in the United States at the following locations:
Data from MiG specifications