Russia's MiG-35 Fighter Looks Like a Total Scam

MiG-35 Fighter from Russia
June 16, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkraineMiG-35MilitaryDefenseAir ForceAviation History

Russia's MiG-35 Fighter Looks Like a Total Scam

The development of the Mikoyan MiG-35 fighter jet reflects both the potential and the challenges facing Russian aerospace design.


Summary and Key Points: The development of the Mikoyan MiG-35 fighter jet reflects both the potential and the challenges facing Russian aerospace design.



-Despite Russia's struggle with military credibility due to its protracted and unsuccessful invasion of Ukraine, the MiG-35 showcases advanced technological capabilities.

-Unveiled in 2017, the MiG-35 features modern avionics, a fly-by-wire system, and precision-guided targeting, positioning it as a multi-role aircraft.

-However, production has been limited, with only a handful of units delivered to the Russian military, indicating resource constraints and broader issues within Russia's defense sector.

The development of the Mikoyan MiG-35 fighter does not appear to be going well – which seems to be something of a current theme for Russia and her military. Yet, the capabilities of the MiG-35 fighter speak to the latent potential of Russian aerospace designers.

Russians Bleeding Military Credibility

Since launching an illegal invasion against Ukraine, Putin’s Russia has become an international pariah. In violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia has bled diplomatic credibility, earning the resentment of the international community, and reclaiming the role of the West’s most nettlesome antagonist.

The Russians have lost more than just diplomatic credibility, however; the Russians have also expended their military credibility. The simple fact is that Russian forces, the third most well-funded fighting force in the world, has failed to make significant territorial gains against a weak neighbor – who happens to be right next door.

For two years now, Russia has been bogged down in what has become a war of attrition featuring the most violent combat on the European continent since the conclusion of World War II. The Russian failure to gain ground has raised questions about the capabilities of Russia’s fighting forces. Russia was initially expected to bowl over Ukraine quickly. That of course did not happen, leaving many to ask what was wrong with the Russian military.

Plenty is wrong with the Russian military – from logistics to equipment. But one realm in which the Russians still earn a measure of respect is aerospace. For decades, the Russian/Soviets put out aircraft that forced the US to keep pace. Since the end of the Cold War, US aerospace designers have undoubtedly pulled ahead of their Russian peers; the US has mass produced two fifth-generation airframes and started work on a sixth-generation replacement.


But the Russians are still capable aerospace designers – including the Mikoyan MiG-35. And while the Russians haven’t quite mastered the mass production of their modern aircraft – only eight MiG-35s are known to have been produced, along with a similar number of the fifth-generation Su-57 Felon – the mere existence of the MiG-35 suggests that the Russians still know how to design a quality fighter jet.

Introducing the MiG-35

Mikoyan revealed their MiG-35 in early 2017. The new jet included a slew of updated tech, including a fly-by-wire system, an upgraded cockpit, advanced avionics, and an integrated precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons.

The new MiG was also outfitted with an NPK-SPP OLS-k electro-optical targeting and surveillance system pod, which was mounted to the fuselage. In all, the MiG-35 seemed well equipped to perform a multi-role function – and seemed to offer an improvement over the MiG-29.   

The MiG-35 is not quite cutting edge, however. Considered to be “fourth-generation-plus” rather than fifth-generation, the MiG-35 does have fifth-generation-like information-sighting systems that can be networked with other Russian weapons systems to form an integrated system offering enhanced situational awareness, ala the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Future of the MiG-35

The MiG-35’s future remains unclear. Only six MiG-35’s have been delivered to the Russian military so far. Initially, the Russian Defence Ministry had expected to receive an order of 37.


But the order was reduced to 24. And then the order was reduced again, to just six airframes, in a harbinger of what the Ukraine invasion has confirmed: Russia is thin on resources.

About the Author: Harrison Kass

Harrison Kass is a defense and national security writer with over 1,000 total pieces on issues involving global affairs. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

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