Bengaluru: MiG-29K aircraft upgraded by HAL undergoing flight trials

The Navy’s MiG-29K aircraft upgraded by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with indigenous mission computers and air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons are undergoing flight trials, an official said Wednesday.

The HAL’s Aircraft Upgrade Research & Design Centre launched the upgrade programme in 2021 to enhance the aircraft’s lethality.

“MiG-29K, which is directly procured by the Navy from RAC-MiG, Russia, is equipped with weapons of Russian origin. It cannot be operated with non-Russian-origin weapons without extensive modifications. Integration of indigenous weapons or western-origin weapons on Mig-29K is extremely challenging… In the light of these considerations, the Navy approached us for the upgrade,” a senior HAL official associated with the project said.

The official said the trials were started in June. “The mission computer made specifically for MiG-29K is under trials by the Navy. They are test-flying it now and the trials will continue for the next 7-8 months. A mission computer is the heart of any aircraft, and the upgrade that we have carried out will increase the lethality of the aircraft,” the official said.

A mission computer is an integrated information processing system that guides pilots during combat operations. It enables avionic functions like flight control and data processing and enhances the night-attack capability and the accuracy of target hits.

The HAL has also initiated the integration of indigenous weapons such as ASTRA on MiG-29K.

R Madhavan, former chairman and managing director of HAL, had told that the integration of mission computers, laser pods, indigenous air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons would also increase the aircraft’s range and day/night situational awareness.

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