Military Capabilities

Ukraine announces plans to develop new fighter

17 March 2017
Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 'Fulcrum' fighters. Ukraine's future fighter will apparently bear a strong resemblance to the MiG-29, but its onboard systems will be of non-Russian origin. Source: Ukrainian Ministry of Defence

On 15 March Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko announced that the country's defence industry will develop its own twin-engine, multirole fighter. The announcement was made during Poroshenko's visit to the Ivchenko-Progress engine design bureau located in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaparozhe. This facility is also co-located with one of the largest aero-engine assembly sites in all of the former Soviet Union: the Motor Sich production plant.

Ukrainian aeronautical design teams have already produced what has been described as a "sketch outline" of a platform for a new fighter, which has been given the programme name of Legkiy Boiviy Litak, which is Ukrainian for "Lightweight Combat Aircraft" and abbreviated as LBL. The aircraft is supposed to bear a strong resemblance to the Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-29 in its external appearance, but the aircraft's onboard systems will be of non-Russian origin.

One of the main differences between this new Ukrainian design and the original MiG-29 will be its engines and electronics. Reports from Poroshenko's visit to the Ivchenko facility stated that the two engines would be "a design based on the AI-322F and the avionics would be of both Western and Ukrainian manufacture".

The engine design appears to be one of the main drivers for this concept, with the Ukrainian president stating, "We will soon be able to create our own aircraft engine for the fighter." Poroshenko also pointed out that Ukraine is among a small group of just five nations in the world that are capable of independently developing aero-engine designs.

Ukraine's new fighter concept was first mentioned earlier in this month in an interview with Yuri Brovchenko, Ukraine's deputy minister for economic development and trade. "On the subject of military aviation, today we are examining the possibility of developing our own indigenous fighter aircraft. There is a design team already working on this," he told the publication Ukrainski Novini.

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