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Codename: Vilnius
Published on: Jun 17, 2009 Category: Military Aircraft Videos,  

The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a 4th generation jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union for an air superiority role. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983, and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other nations. NATOs reporting name for the MiG-29 is "Fulcrum", which was unofficially used by Soviet pilots in service.It was developed to counter new American fighters such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the F/A-18 Hornet.In 1969 the Soviet Union learned of the U.S. Air Force's "F-X" program, which resulted in the F-15 Eagle. The Soviet leadership soon realized that the new American fighter would represent a serious technological advantage over existing Soviet fighters. What was needed was a better-balanced fighter with both good agility and sophisticated systems. In response, the Soviet General Staff issued a requirement for a Perspektivnyy Frontovoy Istrebitel (PFI, roughly "Advanced Frontline Fighter", literally "Perspective Frontline Fighter"). Specifications were extremely ambitious, calling for long range, good short-field performance (including the ability to use austere runways), excellent agility, Mach 2+ speed, and heavy armament. The aerodynamic design for the new aircraft was largely carried out by TsAGI in collaboration with the Sukhoi design bureau. (This would become the Sukhoi Su-27.) However, in 1971 the Soviets determined the PFI aircraft would be too expensive to procure in the quantities needed, and divided the requirement into the TPFI (Tyazhyolyy Perspektivnyy Frontovoy Istrebitel, "Heavy Advanced Tactical Fighter") and the LPFI (Lyogkiy Perspektivnyy Frontovoy Istrebitel, "Lightweight Advanced Tactical Fighter") programs, the latter paralleling the contemporary USAF decision that led to the "Lightweight Fighter" program and the F-16 Fighting Falcon and YF-17 Cobra. The heavy fighter remained with Sukhoi, resulting in the Sukhoi Su-27, while the lightweight fighter went to Mikoyan. Detailed design work on the resultant Product 9, designated MiG-29A, began in 1974, with the first flight taking place on 6 October 1977. The pre-production aircraft was first spotted by United States reconnaissance satellites in November of that year; it was dubbed Ram-L because it was observed at the Zhukovsky flight test center near the town of Ramenskoye. Early Western speculations suggested that the Ram-L was very similar in appearance to the YF-17 Cobra and powered by afterburning Tumansky R-25 turbojets.

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