You can arm the MiG-29 with the AIM-120, even if it is difficult, experts say – Technology Org

It’s been reported that the US is looking into arming Ukrainian MiG-29 jet fighters with the AIM-120 missiles. It is believed that such a modification is possible, but it may also be simply not worth it. On the other hand, AIM-120 AMRAAM is a highly capable weapon, so why not try, if the US and other countries are not willing to provide fighter jets to Ukraine?

MiG-29 of the Ukrainian Air Force.  These fighter jets have been in service since 1983.

MiG-29 of the Ukrainian Air Force. These fighter jets have been in service since 1983. Image credit: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The advantage of the Mikoyan MiG-29, called Fulcrum by NATO, is that Ukraine has them. And soon will have more of them, because Poland is going to send its four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Poland is one of the leading military supporters of Ukraine and by sending fighter jets it is just putting a bold underline under that title.

Poland is going to be the first NATO member to send fighter jets to Ukraine and some other countries may soon follow. This is huge, having in mind that previously Ukraine’s allies were reluctant to provide powerful air assets to Ukraine

The MiG-29 is a twin-engine, which entered service with the Soviet Air Forces in 1983. Together with the larger and more capable Sukhoi Su-27, the MiG-29 was designed as a competition to the American F-15 and F-15. 16 jets.

There are two NATO countries operating the MiG-29 platform: Poland, which has over 20 MiG-29s in service, and Bulgaria, which has 11 fighter jets of this type. It is unknown how many MiG-29s are in Ukrainian service, but less than 70.

Ukraine will not be armed with the F-16 jets – it would take too long to prepare the crews to start using such a different combat aircraft. But the MiG-29 is still a highly capable weapon. But can it fire AIM-120 AMRAAM air to air missiles?

F-16 fires an AIM-120 missile.

F-16 fires an AIM-120 missile. Image credit: Tech. Sgt. Derrick Harris via Wikimedia

The AIM-120 AMRAAM is an American medium range air-to-air missile, which uses active transmit-receive radar guidance. It’s been in production since 1991 and can be launched from many different aircraft.

Just to name a few, F-18, F-22, F-35, Hawk 200, Eurofighter Typhoon, SAAB Gripen and many other aircrafts can fire AIM-120 missiles. There are plenty of them available, which would make them a nice option to arm the Ukrainian Air Forces. However, launching the AIM-120 from the wing of the MiG-29 would be hardly possible.

The AIM-120 needs to maintain contact with the aircraft that launched it long after they separate on their ways. Experts say that for this to be possible with the MiG-29, 60% of the inboard electronics would have to be changed. And if they find a way to do without it, it is likely that some of the functionality of the AIM-120 might be lost.

Furthermore, the usual certification process takes some time, because engineers need to make sure that the missile can be fired without causing any damage to the fighter jet.

MiG-29s have been in the crosshairs of the AIM-120 many times. But it is unlikely that they can join forces now. Unless they come up with some clever solution, which doesn’t seem to be on the horizon yet.

Sources: , Wikipedia

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