Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is on course to complete flight trials of its latest MiG-35 'Fulcrum-F' combat aircraft at the turn of the new year, ahead of the launch of serial production in 2018, a senior company representative told Jane's on 24 June.
Speaking during the Paris Air Show, the general director of MiG, Ilia Tarasenko, said that the flight trials that began in January will shortly be completed, and that the launch of serial production in 2018 will mark the adoption of the latest-variant Fulcrum by the Russian defence ministry.
"Since January 2017, state tests have been carried out, and we are planning that they will be completed by the end of 2017 or early 2018. We expect that the aircraft will go into series and will be adopted by the military in 2018. Now we can say that the Ministry of Defence [MoD] is satisfied with the tests," Tarasenko said.
According to Tarasenko, a contract for the MiG-35 will be included in the next State Armament Program to be implemented in 2018. "We cannot name a clear number of aircraft that the MoD plans to order under this programme, but already today the Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS] said that they are planning to gradually replace all the current MiG-29 aircraft with the MiG-35 model."
In January, the commander of the VKS, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev said that all of the service's light fighters will be replaced by the MiG-35 in the coming years. According to Jane's World Air Forces , the VKS currently has about 350 MiG-29s (of which about 200 are thought to be in storage). With the MiG-29 making up the light end of Russia's fighter spectrum, the heavy end comprises the Sukhoi Su-27-series 'Flanker' and MiG-31 'Foxhound' fighters.
With deliveries to the Russian armed forces due to begin in 2018, Tarasenko noted that export customers could begin receiving aircraft as soon as 2020.
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