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MiG-21 Fishbed

MiG-21 Fishbed In the sky of Viêt-nam, the most frightening enemy of the American pilots was Mikoyan Gurevich Mig-21, more known under the name of code of NATO ' Fishbed'. In spite of its operating range limited and a rudimentary system of weapons, the Migone was difficult to cut down and the Mig-21 ratio abattus/avions American lost was often less important than the United States could have wished it. In the Middle East (in spite of the statistics advanced by the Israeli propagandists) MiG21 gained several victories over the Mirage and F-4 Israelis, in spite owing to the fact that the Israeli pilots were trained better and that their tactics were higher.

not being new at the time, the Migone however proved of a longevity remarkable. Many of these planes are still in service. The last models ' Fishbeds' had a better fuel capacity, a more powerful radar and higher weapons, while preserving the advantages of the Mig-21 precedents. Thus, the Migone is fast, has a superb acceleration and an excellent rate of rise, is relatively nimble, and its frontal signature radar is reduced. These characteristics make Mig-21 difficult adversary in the close combats, although it does not have the capacities with very great incidence and low speed of its American or international equivalents. In fact, the hunters of today did not know great improvements in the field of the absolute performance since the Sixties. The modern hunters are hardly faster (and even sometimes slower), and the improvements which were made to them are generally limited to the saving in fuel and the capacity of the systems.

Of good qualities in close combat does not suffice for a modern fighter, and hundreds of pilots the Migone made the experiment of it. Mig-29 A of the performances and a handiness remarkable. It has a radar with long Doppler impulse carried, sensors multi bands and missiles BVR, but the weakness of its operating range and the lack of equipment of processing of data constitute a major handicap in all the fields, except for the close combat. If the Migone does not make really the weight vis-a-vis with its counterparts, that is it then necessary to think of Mig-21 whose equipment is considerably less advanced?

The programmes of modernization of the avionics, the systems and the weapons however transformed innumerable old men hunters in the world, since the light F-5 Freedom Fighter and Tiger until powerful F-4 Phantom. Just like its Western counterparts, the Migone had great need for modernization and improvement.

During the cold war, the modernization of Mig-21 was not regarded as a priority because it was easy to obtain new combat apparatuses. Several users the Migone could buy the Migones or even the Migones at incredibly low prices. With the end of the cold war, however, the production of new types of hunters dropped appreciably and the price of the new apparatuses increased. The nations which had the Migones were to face a dilemma: to buy new planes at the full price or to preserve the Migone which became increasingly obsolete. The only solution was to modernize the existing apparatuses.

Certaines companies seized this occasion to propose programmes of modernization of these apparatuses.

The first modernizations

MiG-21 Fishbed The modernization of a small number of Mig-21 started well before the end of the cold war, at the moment when old allies of the USSR, such as Egypt and China, were to choose between modernizing or replacing their Mig-21. Once that Egypt had moved away from the USSR, its enormous fleet of Soviet planes became increasingly difficult to maintain. China provides him parts spare for the cells and the engines, but there remained always the problem of the avionics and the weapons. The replacement of the totality of the air fleet did not constitute a realistic solution. Certain types of planes were finally replaced, but of others, such as the Migone, were kept.

After several trial flights on board Mig-21 equipped with a VTH Smiths and a system of inertial navigation Ferranti, a contract was signed with bearing GEC-Marconi on the modernization from 75 to 100 apparatuses: new VTH, new calculator of parameters air, new detecting of emissions radar and jammer, and compatibility with the air-to-air missile MATRA R.550 Magic. These aircraft were equipped thereafter with AIM -9P-3, then of AIM-9L Sidewinder. The negotiations aiming at rétrofiter a new Western radar (the AN/APQ-159 of the F-5) did not succeed.

In China, with Chengdu F-7M and F-7P intended for export was equipped with radars GEC Type 226 Skyranger, as well as VTH and of a fire-control computer of the type 956, with a new altimeter radar, a new calculator of parameters air and other systems. Pakistan chose to equip its aircraft with radars with impulses Doppler FIAR multimode GrifoL bandages l/J of it, after a prolonged competition, in particular with Blue Hawk of GEC Marconi. Other radical modernization plans envisaged the assembly of a radar AN/APG-66 in a new solid nose, and laterally repositioned air intake. This apparatus, known under the name of Sabre or Super 7, had, amongst other things, being equipped with F404 engines or RB.199, a new VTH with large field of vision, with a greater capacity carburizing, and with larger wings with devices of operation of leading edges controlled by computer. The construction of this apparatus (with the American partner Grumman) was abandoned following the massacre of the place Tien Anmen in 1989, although certain elements were built-in in the design of Chengdu FC-1 sino-Russian, currently in construction.

Although relatively modest, these programs contributed to stress the inherent problems to the modernization of Mig-21, while proving that these difficulties could be overcome. In more of the problems of modernization of Mig-21 due to the absence of co-operation on behalf of the manufacturer, there was also that which consisted in assembling new systems and a new avionics in extremely restricted and nonmodifiable spaces (for example, the radome of the central cone of entry).

Mig-21 Mikoyan 93

MiG-21 Fishbed The principal weakness of Mig-29 and other Russian hunters of fourth generation lay in the mediocrity of the ergonomics of the cockpit, the primitive character of posting, the lack of capacity and speed of treatment, and in the design of the software of the system of control. It is in these fields that the Russians were late compared to the Western countries, and it is what allowed the Western companies which hoped to modernize the Migone to take the top on the manufacturers of the apparatus themselves.

Although regarded as not being very prominent in the field of the production of avionics and modern integrated weapon systems, the engineering and design department Mikoyan and the factory Sokol de Nizhny Novgorod nevertheless had some advantages on the Western competitors. The statute of originator and original manufacturer of this group (the Sokol factory being more known under the name of GAZ-21, manufacturer of the majority of Mig-21 built), conferred to him an unequalled knowledge of the structure of the apparatus, its aerodynamics and infrastructure of its systems and avionics. This group also had experiment in the structural bearing tests and the data of the tests of flight and had the equipment and the tools necessary to the manufacture of coins of replacement and detached coins.

Although it was clear that only the last Mig-21 alternatives could really be modernized, the first folders and booklets of Mikoyan generally presented preceding versions, often with the small ones stop dorsal. Under the Mig-21-93 denomination, the Migone modernized was equipped with a Kopyo radar and sites for advanced weapons (including the air-to-air missiles "draws and forgets" and the air-to-ground missiles with guidance TV and radar). More important still, the Migone was compatible with air-to-air missiles BVR R27 (AA-10 ' Alamo') and R-77 (AA-12 ' Adder'). The apparatus also had a greater number of electromagnetic and infra-red chaff launchers on the roots of the wings, of a windshield of only one part, system of aiming gone up on helmet of Mig-29 and a better capacity of cooling thanks to the use of a new system of air conditioning, based on that of the Migone. Mikoyan was not long in realizing that the prospective customers were likely to show not very inclined to use the Russian avionics and the electronics component and started to offer French systems. The co-operation with the French companies had started with the program MiG AT.

the Migone was finally marketed with a calculator of parameters air, a host computer, a GPS, a sight assembled on helmet, a VTH, an annular gyrolaser and liquid crystal displays, all of French manufacture. The apparatus could also be provided with a detector of emissions Sherloc radar, with a Barem jammer, and even with a French derivative of Kopyo, Thomson-Phazatron Phantom.

The Kopyo radar (' Lance') is a derivative of the Zhuk radar (' Beetle') built for MiG29M, with an antenna smaller punt of radar. Able to detect a target having the size of a hunter (3 m2) to a range of 45 km, Kopyo a variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground modes had, and was equipped with a capacity of continuation of eight simultaneous targets in more of the possibility of engaging two target S at the same time.

India approached many aeronautical companies with an aim of modernizing its Mig-21, including American companies which suggested equipping the aircraft with F404 engines and a radar AN/APG-66, like that of F-16. Finally, the Western solutions proved too expensive. In May 1994, India signed a contract with Mikoyan and Sokol to modernize 100 Mig-21 hunters with the Mig-21-93 standard. This modernization included, however, certain equipment and Western systems of avionics, in particular a system of inertial navigation SAGEM, a advanced alarm system EWS-A or EWS-21 of Dassault Electronique and a Carapace jammer. Mikoyan proposed in option a choice of engines, such as the TJR-25-300 of a push of 69,65 kN, a derivative of the RD-33 used by the Migone. India chooses this option to modernize 70 other apparatuses, while the Indian Air Force chose the modernization of more than 250 MiG21M, Mig-21 MF and Mig-21. With a cost of 1,33 million dollars, India thus hoped to prolong the life of Mig-21 until 20102015, or even beyond.

Israeli modernizations

MiG-21 Fishbed Israel was the privileged ground of the modernization of old fighters. The imposition of embargoes on the weapons had indeed forced this small nation to equip itself its Air Force. However, the small Israeli aircraft industry could not with it only entirely equip its Air Force with new combat apparatuses, designed and built in Israel, and chooses to fill this gap by modernizing its supplys in hand. Initially concentrated on modifications of secondary importance such as the improvement of certain aspects of the performance or the survivability (for example suppression of the infra-red emissions of the engines of Super the Mysteries and Skyhawks), the programs of modernization became extensive quickly as the companies engaged in project (mainly IAI and the giant of Elbit electronics) acquired experiment. Very quickly, the companies were able to propose integrated sets of modifications relating to structural modifications intended to increase the lifespan of an apparatus, new wiring, brakes and other components improved, new weapons and new points of carrying of weapons, as well as a new system of avionics (mainly of Israeli origin). These changes came to be added to a modernized cockpit and an improved man-machine interface. Skyhawks and Phantoms of IDF/AF were the first apparatuses with being completely modified by IAI.


MiG-21 Fishbed When IAI started to propose improvements with other nations, the company concentrated initially on types of apparatuses being already in service in the Israeli army and that she knew well; mainly Douglas McDonnell F-4 Phantom and A-4 Skyhawk. Very quickly, it appeared that many characteristics of the version improved of F-4 could be used to modernize other types of apparatuses, and IAI started to seek customers for the improvements intended for apparatuses such as the F-5. From there to regard the Migone as a potential market for the service companies of modernization, there was only one step. The company had good experience with the Migone, since IDF/AF had made flight tests and had evaluated a certain number of Mig-21 die wrapped with its Arab neighbors.

At the time of the disappearance of the Community of the Independent States, IAI saw disappearing with it a market for its spare parts and its services from technical aid for Mig-21. Indicator to take shape an opportunity, IAI built a network of suppliers at the old states customers of the Soviets and was quickly able to offer any part spare or composing of the last versions from the Mig 21, starting from the Mig 21MF.

It was a large business in itself, but created for the company an excellent base on which to build a company of modernizations intended for the Migone.

IAI showed a prototype ' rampant' of MiG21-2000 (described like having been converted starting from Mig-21 damaged Ethiopic or of Mig-21MF, 5902 Rumanian) to the aeronautical living room of Le Bourget in 1993, and this apparatus was described like representative the configuration of Rumanian improvement. Outside, the only important modification of the apparatus was the contribution of a circular windshield of only one holding, but the attentive observers also noticed the box of head of the new ejector seat zéro-zéro Martin-Baker Mk 10. The cockpit had been entirely redrawn, with a new VTH EI-C$op with great angle and new instruments, including/understanding single a small display screen head low (VTB) color (8,9 X 11, 4 cm) and a second screen CRT monochrone of 29 cm² for a representation radar. The aircraft was equipped with Doppler a multimode radar with impulses Elta EL/M-2032 able to bring a range and a flexibility much more important than radar preceding RP-22 Sapfir ' Jay Bird', with a range of detection of approximately 35-45 Nm (65-83 km) directed to the bottom and of 35-55 Nm (65-102 km) directed upwards, compared with 11 Nm (20 km) of Sapfir. To offer a choice different from the new radar, IAI developed a modernization of the radar inexpensive able to improve the treatment of the signal and of allows a better posting of the data and a direct control of the pilot on the angles of sweeping of rise and azimuth, while preserving original the Sapfir radar.

the other new systems were composed mainly of a computer with single mission and a data bus MILLET STD 1553B, of a new system of inventory control, of a system of portable cartridge of data conceived to allow the use of a planning system of modern mission, of a capacity of installation for laser designator, and even of the sight of helmet Elbit DASH. The new systems of avionics are smaller and lighter than the systems than they replace, which made it possible to increase the capacity while carburizing of 200 liters.

IAI would have engaged of the talks with MATRA, the manufacturer of French missiles, which would have had as a result an agreement making it possible the Israeli company to market the air-to-air missile Mica with guidance radar and capacity BVR as a weapon of long range for these hunters improved as well as the Python with infra-red guidance as a weapon of short range of the Mig-21-2000 air-to-air missile.

IAI obtained a contract well to give in state eight of the 19 Mig-21 Kampuchean single-seaters which had belonged to Viêt-nam, like three two-seaters, but this repairing was modest and its goal was simply to enable them to fly again. One of the Kampuchean apparatuses was perhaps used as prototype of flight of MiG21-2000, which flew for the first time on May 24, 1995. In 1996, one learned that IAI and of the Ukrainian companies were negotiating in order to modernize Mig-21 Ethiopian, IAI providing and assembling the systems of avionics and the Ukrainian factories carrying out work on the cell.

Elbit only launches out

MiG-21 Fishbed It is thus astonishing that when the modernization of the Rumanian apparatuses was confirmed in a final way, it was Elbit and not IAI which was charged to modernize the 110 Migones selected among the Air Force. Before even as IAI could not expose its demonstrators to the Paris Air Show of 1993, Elbit announced that it had gained the contract to modernize Mig-21 Rumanian, although the authorization to begin work was given only on November 15, 1993, six months after the signature of the contract. Elbit had been the principal subcontractor of IAl at the time of modernization of Mig-21-2000 (intended for Romania); it had provides the ultra-sophisticated avionics and had been selected to carry out this task of modernization of the Rumanian apparatuses, the local companies being charged with the tasks which would have fallen on IAI, and Elbit ensuring management with the project and its integration. The fact that Elbit had accepted a partnership with Rumanian companies was probably a factor determining in obtaining the contract, although five companies answered the invitation to tender launched in 1992 (four others being IAI, MAPO-Mig, GEC and Thomson-CSF).

The contract of 300 million dollars related to the modernization of 75 single-seat apparatuses intended to be used for the air support brought closer and of 25 for a role air defense, plus 10 two-seat trainers. All the apparatuses are dismounted then entirely gone up and modified when this proves to be necessary; this process is equivalent in fact to a rebuilding. The systems of the apparatuses and their avionics which had been preserved are modernized in a similar way by Aerostar. This Rumanian company has great experience in the maintenance and the modernization of Mig-21 and manufactures spare parts which are not manufactured any more in Russia.

All the apparatuses profit from entirely new systems of avionics, conceived around two numerical data buses MILLET STD 1553B, managed by a modular multi-task calculator. The cockpit of the Throw is entirely new with orders ROTAS for all the crucial systems of mission and the principal panel is returned more clearly thanks to the addition of two multifunction screens of 12,7 cm². It preserves only one small number of analogical instruments of help. The screen of right-hand side is assembled only on the aircraft of air defense (and on the cockpits before planes of drive, prototypes and first apparatuses produced in series). It is a monochromic screen used to post the information obtained by the radar. The screen of left is color, and it is used mainly as posting of the tactical situation. The apparatus comprises a standard VTH EI-C$op, with a frontal control panel it is compatible with a sight of helmet DASH.

to improve the survavibility with the combat, the apparatus is equipped with a detector of emissions radar Elisra SPS-20 RWR, whose antennas directed to the top are assembled on the higher sides of the nose and the antennas directed to the bottom are assembled on the higher part of the drift. The apparatus can transport an active jammer, and chaff launchers électromagnétiques/infrarouges IMI with 30 cartridges are assembled on each side of the base of the ventral drift.

the Throw has of a new system tested integrated and a video camera color to record the data of the VTH. The program provides also a system of drive improved with equipment of debriefing of the type ACMI, as well as a planner of mission associated with a module with transfer with the data. The plane has a new hybrid system of navigation (HNS) with an inertial power station with components related Lawn-ltaliana LISA 4000 hybridée to the GPS and a VOR Allied Signal/Bendix (marketed on rack), as well as the instrument landing and a device of measurement of distance.

the radar of the air bearings brought closer and the apparatuses drive was replaced by a telemetric radar Elta EL/M-2001-B, but it is easy to go up and integrate and can even use the existing radome. The 25 apparatuses configured in air defense have a multimode radar Doppler with impulses Elta EL/M-2032 which requires a new radome and perhaps do not have the new altimeter radar assembled on the aircraft of air support brought closer and the aircraft drive. Put besides this point, all the apparatuses are identical.

the prototype (9809, an apparatus configured for the brought closer air support) stole on August 23, 1995, two months before the date envisaged. The first aircraft of drive (327, Mig-21UM) flew on May 8, 1996. The first apparatus of air support brought closer pre-production (714) was ready in time for the aeronautical living room of Farnborough of 1996, and an apparatus of defense of pre-production (6721, in camouflage of air superiority three tone from gray) made its appearance with the Paris Air Show in June 1997. The modernized apparatus was called Lancer.

the Throw is compatible with many weapons of Western and Soviet origin. In order to make this possible, a new pylon with a point of suspension before and two points postpone (for the weapons with the standards of NATO, for the Soviet weapons) was conceived and developed, then gone up on many aircraft. Romania ordered ' several centaines' air-to-air missiles MATRA Magic 2 with infra-red guidance in order to equip its Mig-21 modernized; it is a choice surprising taking into account the fact that excel it R-73 (AA-11 ' Archer') was already in the inventory of Mig-29 Rumanian, and taking into account simpler integration waited until derrait to bring an Israeli missile, perhaps the Python or the Python.

For the tactical role of recognition, Elbit conceived a pod recognition entirely new, with an oblique camera directed towards before and a camera of vertical monitoring, and with additional place to be able to add other sensors to a later date. The Throw will carry also the laser designator Rafael.

Future of modernizations

MiG-21 Fishbed It has many other companies of modernization of Mig-21, particularly TEREM in Bulgaria. TEREM, specialist in the revisions, repairs and modernizations Mig-21 for the Bulgarian Air Force and certain states customers of the Soviet ex-block, was officially charged by Mikoyan with modernizing the Migones. The Bulgarian company modernized six Mig-21 various versions to serve demonstrators. Thanks to its high technical skill and at its costs of advantageous labour, TEREM is considered by Mikoyan the ideal partner for his modernizations. It is a also question which Syria and India make call with the services of TEREM for their Mig-21.

the number of Mig-21 modernized is impressive. With the end of the cold war, many operators chose to withdraw their Mig-21 rather than to modernize them. From the very start of the years 1990, the Migones became museum pieces and some were bought by private individuals, others were converted in order to be used of drone without crew and target of drive. So all the Migones still in service will not be modernized.

In the Eighties, the Western pilot could be sure that all the Migones that it met would be equipped only with one directing radar of shooting with most rudimentary, that they would not have any weapon BVR, and would be almost completely dependent on a ground station of guidance and control. All these weak points were removed thanks to the various batches of modernization available. Nowadays, if a hostile plane is identified as being Mig-21, there are strong chances so that it is an apparatus much less primitive than a fast jet of the Fifties. It can thus represent a real threat, with a long range and a great fire power. Certain Mig-21 modernized represent a threat more dangerous than F-16 or the Migones of first generation. However, the small size of the apparatus reduces its range operating and the limited scale of its aerofoil generally does not enable him to lay out of more than six points of carrying for the air-to-air missiles, even if it has stations in end of wing. The Migone is however far from being a negligible adversary.

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