This was the fighter that “Ghost of Kyiv” was flying during the aerial conflicts of the war.
MiG-29 was developed to cover the needs of the Soviet air force for a light multi-role fighter. Essentially, the military aircraft was the Soviet response to the successful US F-16 jet. With its incredible agility, MiG-29 basically resurrected the fallen reputation of the Soviet Union for producing capable aircraft. In the West, MiG-29 is known as ‘Fulcrum’. The fighter jet was produced in massive numbers, as at least 1,600 aircraft were made. Most of them (almost 900) were exported. After Russia, the country with the biggest active fleet of MiG-29s was Ukraine -at least before the start of the war. Other countries-operators are Belarus, Bulgaria, Peru, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and more. All of these nations also own limited MiG-29UB units for training purposes. MiG-29s usually operate as anti-aircraft fighters.
‘The Ghost of Kyiv’
As you may already know, the Ukrainian legend about a skillful and brave pilot with the nickname ‘The Ghost of Kyiv’ used this Soviet-era fighter.
The aircraft was designed to have a sophisticated aerodynamic design and the N-019 pulse-Doppler radar as its main detecting sensor.
The 9-12 prototype made its first flight in 1977, while the aircraft entered service with the Soviet air force many years later, in 1986, replacing the older MiG-23. At that time, the Soviets used MiG-29 as air superiority and land attack aircraft. Some units of the Soviet air force had MiG-29 equipped with RN-40 nuclear bombs.
The original MiG-29 has proven its value in close combat dogfights. The pilot of the fighter has sights in their helmet that helps him launch missiles with accuracy. The very maneuverable R-73 missile is one of the most capable and powerful available air-to-air weapons in the aircraft. Although, the basic weapon of MiG-29, the R-27, is not very reliable for beyond visual range targets. Besides that, its RD-33 engines are really hard to maintain, and therefore the aircraft has limited range and durability. But, the Soviet Union didn’t give up and tried to overcome many of these issues by developing and producing newer versions of MiG-29. Many of those versions can be found on Russia’s and Ukraine’s weaponry.
Ukrainian Version Of The Fighter Jet
Recently, Ukraine developed its own upgraded version of the MiG-29 fighter. The new variant cost almost 3.6 million dollars and is called MiG-29MU2. The required time to upgrade an aircraft is nine months. Although, it’s still unknown how many units Ukrainians achieved to upgrade before the beginning of the ongoing war with Russia.
How Many Aircraft For Each Country?
Some reports state that before the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian air force had 38 fully operational MiG-29. Eight of them were being used for training.
On the other side, Russia has almost 260 units with some of them participating in operations over Ukraine.