India to Purchase 20 Russian MiG-29 Jets: A Good Move?

June 24, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: MilitaryTechnologyWeaponsWarIndia

India to Purchase 20 Russian MiG-29 Jets: A Good Move?

In addition, personnel from the Indian military will take part in the Victory Parade in Moscow’s Red Square on June 24.

Even as New Delhi has eyed the American-designed Lockheed Martin F-35, the Indian military still uses a lot of Russian technology—a fact that is unlikely to change. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is now reportedly planning to order thirty-three additional fighters including twenty-one MiG-29 supersonic fighter jets from Russia. The news was first reported in the EconomicTimes of India, which noted that these aircraft would replace the IAF’s aging MiG-21 fighters—and of the new aircraft two would-be trainers.

Russia has been working with the IAF to support the modernization of the MiG-29 fighter, and those upgrades will improve the jet aircraft’s combat capabilities and enable the fighter to integrate new weapons and technologies. The modernization is expected to increase the service life of the aircraft platform by up to forty years.

The additional aircraft would be a dozen Sukho Su-30 MkI multi-role fighter jets—which now form the backbone of the IAF, bringing the total number of the forth-generation fighters to 284. Those fighter jets could be manufactured at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) facility, where the aircraft are built under license. The aircraft is tailor-made for Indian specifications and integrates Indian systems and avionics, but also includes French and Israeli sub-systems. It shares many features with the Russian-built Sukhoi Su-35.

Last year, a senior executive at the state-owned facility said that it could close this year if no new orders were placed. There were concerns that this could have a domino effect that could have resulted in four hundred local suppliers shutting their doors as a result. While this latest order of twelve additional fighters will keep the Nasik-based factory running through next year, it will also produce eighty-three Tejas Light Combat Aircraft Mk 1A this year at HAL. That will be the largest Made in India project of its kind to date.

This deal between New Delhi and Moscow comes as tensions continue to simmer at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border, between India and China in the Kashmir region.

Personnel from the Indian military will take part in the Victory Parade in Moscow’s Red Square on June 24.

“India has confirmed its contingent’s participation in the Victory Parade on June 24. We are impatiently waiting for the Indian servicemen to march across Red Square. We are currently agreeing the practical aspects of the upcoming event with the Indian partners,” Russia’s Ambassador to India Nikolai Kudashev told Russian state media last week. “In particular, during the passage of the parade unit, the announcer will highlight India’s contribution to the victory over fascism and the fact that Indian soldiers were awarded the Red Star Orders in 1944.”

The Indian military, which was then in service with the British military, fought on numerous fronts during World War II, but also provided for the delivery of cargoes along the so-called southern trans-Iranian route of the lend-lease program, under which weapons, munitions, equipment spare parts and food were supplied to the Soviet Union through Iran and Iraq.

The Victory Parade, which marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), had been scheduled for May 9 but was delayed due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Russia. The June 24 date was chosen to coincide with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the legendary historic parade that took place on that day in 1945.  

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on 

Image: Reuters