It is known that the weapons at the disposal of Russia have always been the most reliable, powerful and killing in the world. And, of course, just as time does not stand still, so does the development of the defense system.
Thus, a new «Boomerang» combat platform appeared in service of the Russian army, which many experts already called the best armored personnel carrier in the world: «this is speed, protection and modularity». Moreover, enhanced armor allows protecting the crew from mines, land mines, shelling with large-caliber weapons. Active protection built into the upper hemisphere is able to protect the machine from anti-tank missiles and projectiles. With the help of modules on the «Boomerang» it is possible to install a machine gun, a 30-mm or 57-mm cannon, and even a 100-mm gun, and the speed and maneuverability of this machine allows quickly move and deploy units in the right area. Furthermore, it is armed with four «Kornet» complexes, with a range of up to 10 km, which may well hit a tank. Also, it is possible to unload the landing party from the stern, and not from the side hatches, as was the case in the former BTR-80.
Also, it is impossible to disregard the development of the T-14 tank, which in the USA was called a revolution in tank building, and also reported that NATO has no competitor among the combat vehicles. Thus, the observer of the American publishing house of «The National Interest», Mark Episcopos, in his article noted the power of the 7.62-mm machine gun «Armata», which is equipped with a special device that allows to remotely reloading the weapon. The sealing mechanism protects it from water ingress into the electric trap during precipitation or when overcoming water obstacles. The T-14 tank also has a heavy 12.7-mm machine gun «Kord», capable of penetrating light armor. Moreover, this tank is equipped with reactive dynamic armor, uninhabited turret, laser-guided missiles and a rough surface, thanks to which it is easier to blend into uneven terrain, and it is easier and safer to move along armor covered with special material, since it does not slip.
The newest 2B25 «Gall» mortars began to enter the Russian army, which are characterized by almost complete noiselessness, making it very difficult to detect the position from which the shooting is being conducted. In early May 2019, several dozen such mortars were received by Special Forces units. The 82B «Gall», a silent mortar of 82 mm caliber, was developed by the «Nizhny Novgorod Central Research Institute «Burevestnik», and according to the manufacturer, the maximum range of the product is 1200 m, the minimum is 100 m, the rate of fire is 15 shots per minute if the fire is fired at one the point. It is possible to bring a mortar into a combat position from a traveling one in just 30 seconds; it is able to work at an ambient temperature of minus 50 to plus 50 degrees Celsius, a crew of two men. Also, the undoubted advantage of the 2B25 mortar is the stealthness of the firing position and the suddenness of its use due to the noiselessness, flamelessness and smokelessness of shooting, due to the peculiarities of the design scheme and the use of the silent 3PO35 shot.
As with many of Russia’s most prolific aircraft, the MiG-29 has spawned numerous variants four decades of service. Originally intended as an superiority fighter, and particularly as the Soviet answer to the F-16, the MiG-29 has been gradually recast as a multi-role aircraft with an increasingly robust air-to-surface armament suite.
The MiG-29’s new purpose was on full display at a recent combat exercise at the Ashuluk training grounds near the Astrakhan region in southwestern Russia. In a rarity for publicized, high-profile Russian aircraft drills, a squad of upgraded MiG-29SMT’s was deployed for the explicit purpose of neutralizing “international terrorists.” Specifically, they were practicing coordinated airstrikes against light armor columns.
TV Zvezda, the official television channel of Russia’s Defense Ministry, released a clip of the exercise (https://tvzvezda.ru/news/forces/content/201903250614-ql6g.htm).
The footage depicts MiG-29SMT’s flying in formation, before panning to a brief shot of the SMT’s partly digitized avionics. A fighter can be seen discharging its armaments; the moment of impact was not shown, but Zvezda reports that the SMT’s fired unguided S-13 rockets at a light armor column with good effect on target (GEOT). The MiG-29SMT’s proceeded to practice dogfighting maneuvers in pairs before returning to base.
Unsurprisingly, the SMT upgrade package revolves around a much-improved ground attack capability. It gives the MiG-29 access to an expanded suite of Kh-29, Kh-31, and Kh-25 air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles, with six external hardpoints to deploy them. As with almost all Soviet-era aircraft, it is compatible with the aforementioned, highly versatile S-13 line of unguided rockets. Aside from typical modernization improvements in updated avionics and increased ECM (electronic countermeasures) tools, the SMT introduces a new antenna array better suited for detecting ground targets.
The SMT is still considered a first-generation MiG-29 variant, but nonetheless features many of the improvements introduced by the second-generation MiG-29M. It is the MiG-29M that first modernized the basic MiG-29 formula, introducing a new lightweight frame to increase maneuverability, and-- in addressing one of the foremost criticisms of its predecessor-- a drastically increased combat range of 2,000 kilometers (km), as opposed to the 1,500 km of the original MiG-29. The MiG-29M’s upgrade path is fully realized with the upcoming MiG-35, a deeply modernized multi-role fighter that advances the MiG-29M formula with fifth-generation avionics and a proprietary Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
Understandably, there is a temptation to view these many MiG-29 variants on a spectrum of linear progression; of one model replacing the next in a constant cycle of technological improvement. But, as previously discussed by The National Interest, this is a total misconception of Russia’s military aircraft development strategy. The MiG-29M will not become obsolete with the imminent release of the MiG-35, just as first-generation MiG-29 models were not rendered obsolete by the MiG-29M.
For a major military power like the Soviet Union and its Russian successor, there is always going to be a glut of aircraft roles to fill at various intensity levels and operational uses. As a fighter made for pitched, high-intensity warfare in hostile airspace becomes outdated vis-à-vis competing fighters and air defenses, it is no longer able to perform its original role. But, from patrol to support to low-intensity combat missions, there are still many roles for it to perform. At that point, it can simply be retrofitted and redeployed as needed. Of course, It can also be sold; older Soviet aircraft account for a major chunk of Russia’s arms export contracts with Asian and Middle-Eastern purchasers, who tend to prioritize raw performance value over the latest technological bells and whistles.
This, in a nutshell, is the four-decade developmental story of the MiG-29, and the major driving force behind the prevalence of numerous aircraft variants in the Russian Air Force roster.