The main problem of course is that the Mig is often compared with modern western fighters armed with AMRAAMs, so while the R-77 remains untested in real combat it is a real unknown quantity that is easy to dismiss.
As usual also factual reality (even those in mere air to air exercises, DACT or not) of the so called BVR engagements between early MiG-29 and western aircraft had been deeply deformed in widely accessible open media to provide a guided perception of reality
, useful at promote confidence in western products and tarnish ,for what was possible, MiG's products name and ,even more, theirs MARKET
First some historical facts on operational "BVR engagements" from the same NATO pasted conflicts that can aid anyone to get a more realistic picture of how things stand in actual Air to Air combat between agile aircraft:1) In ALL pasted successful engagements involving western medium range radar guided missiles, enemy aircraft was NOT AWARE to be under attack, not reacting in any way to evade or suppress the incoming missiles
(see down to discover what was the main reason for that...) .2) A VERY HIGH AMOUNT of engagements involving radar guided medium range AA missiles with potential BVR capability was in reality executed well WITHIN VISUAL RANGE distance from enemy aircraft
(one more time read down what was the reason for that...)3) In ALL pasted successful BVR and WVR engagements western aircraft enjoyed a crushing numerical and training advantage over enemies equipped ,moreover, with very few samples of the export version of the older model of Fulcrum -lacking, among others, even of any type of integrated ECM suit- and often reduced in disastrous conditions
(even with RWR and the main radar totally out of service !!)4) ALL pasted enemies aircraft of western F-15 and F-16 was armed with inferior export version of AA missiles outdated by ,at least, one or two generations
And now the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR
: 5) In ALL pasted successful Air-to-Air BVR engagements western aircraft's squadrons was attentively directed and guided by AWACS , not menaced by any type of enemy aircraft or armament What up-explained and the few operational instances where the up-mentioned conditions not materialized
(almost always conducting ,even in those absurdly unbalanced war's conditions in favor of NATO aircraft, to failed attempts of engagements
or enemy aircraft capable to easily avoid a great amount of enemy BVR missiles
before egressing and escaping from NATO much bigger number of pursuers and ,in one instance -early export version of MiG-25 vs a F/A-18- ,even to down the NATO aircraft with a Bisnovat R-40E ) highlight that the
,by far, most important
, even allowing, element to successfully complete few attacks from BVR ranges was PRESENCE and ACTIVE GUIDANCE by part of AWACS.The analysis
,by part of this assets, of enemy aircraft relative route and direction of motion
allowed ,in all pasted conflicts, NATO aircraft to turn literally around the radar cone footprint of coverage of opposing aircraft's main radars ,from outside theirs maximum detecting range, attacking them ,in vast majority of the instances, from theirs rear hemisphere
(and in fewer instance from rear-beam aspect) and from higher altitude.
In this way western F-15s and F-16s obtained kills ,with AIM-120 missiles, without that the enemy would get any chance to realize to be under attack
, preventing so to him to react maneuvering to avoid them or accelerating outside missile's effective engagement footprint for that particular engagement geometry.Note
: Low Observable air superiority aircraft like F-22 and F-35 or PAKFA or J-20 which
,as explained more times, show tactically relevant RCS in the order of 0,2 -0,5 square meters
, realize the same type of "undetected" kills circumventing enemy aircraft's radar cones of coverage footprint ,but without the formerly indispensable guidance of AWACS
, a short-numbered asset considered today
totally not survivable against an advanced enemy Air Force
is the way F-22s in REALITY
engage and "kill" F-15s in USAFs' exercises, exploiting to the maximum an important tactical advantage offered by low observability
in medium range air combat and is also the main reason leading to the true race for adding some kind of all-around sensor coverage in all latest generation aircraft
Returning to EMPYRICAL PROOFS
of what just said about the real BVR engagement exchange ratios ,even between early Fulcrum armed with export first version of Vympel R-27 and much up-to-date F-16s armed with AIM-120 series
, can be useful to cite a relatively recent Polish DACT exercises.
First coverage - 2007 DACT exercise- is included in the article of Armia magazine 2009/ 3-4 "MiG-29 kontra F-16" by Adam Gołąbek, Krzysztof Barcz the salient point of which has been translated in this post of ff1987 at keypublishing forum :
From the above link:
1)scenario :BVR - distance over 50km , 4 MiG-29 (9.12) vs 2 F-16blk 52+
results : 2 F-16 and 1 MiG-29 shoot down
Comment to this engagement by Lt. pilot Mariusz Wiąckowski,not contained in the ff1987's summary :
"The air space above the North-East Poland, five thousands meters a.s.l, was the place of the simulated battle.
In the first so-called air raid, four MiGs and two F-16 participated. The battle was carried at long distance. American planes had the advantage, since they have long distance rockets. Nevertheless, MiG have shown to be more effective since they "shot down" two F-16s, while they lost only one machine.
Our numerical advantage did not matter. According to a scenario, we were patrolling, and the F-16s supposed to attack us, hence they could choose any tactics they wished" - explains Lt. Wiączkowski"
2) scenario :
BVR , 4 vs 4 , F-16 had E-3C support
results : 4 MiG-29 shoot down
Practically E3's presence was the main "overturning element" allowing much up-to-date (F-16 Block-52) armed with the latest AIM-120s AMRAAM
against the most outdated MiG-29s armed with early export R-27s to gain the upper hand in BVR engagements
A BVR relative exchange ratio of 2:1 in favour of MiG-29A
,after several missiles of both sides evaded, transformed instantly in a 4:0 BVR exchange ratio in favour of F-16 Block-52
with MiG-29A with Fulcrums incapable to even reacting to the enemy missile attacks (naturally those early MiG-29 are devoid of any MAWS
) or to mount any counter-engagement on F-16s for the mere presence of E3 AWACS ,capable to direct air engagement geometry outside of each single enemy aircraft sensors' footprint
, exactly as had happened in pasted NATO conflicts . Also in the other two scenarios recapped, from "Fruit Fly"
internal Polish Air Force DACT exercise , where 4 MiG-29As was used in the interceptor role aggressor against an opposing intruder group composed by 4 SU-22 escorted by 4 F-16s Block-52
(in the first scenario MiG-29As must attack the escort group of F-16s ,while in the second the "enemy" SU-22 bombers
), remain very evident not only the very low Pk of BVR missiles, but also that ,one more time, all engagements invariably comed to WVR where (with the obvious exception of the last scenario where Fulcrum's mission task become exclusively to destroy Su-22 bombers) even those super outdated export MiG-29s gain easily the upper hand against Block-52 equipped with AIM-9X .
Red : 4 F-16 (escort) , 4 Su-22 ( bombers )
Blue : 4 MiG-29 (CAP)
-some AMRAAM and R-27 shoot were evade ( max range shoot ) by turning away
-AMRAAM kill 2 MiG-29 in BVR
-R-27 kill 1 F-16 in BVR
-R-73 kill 2 F-16 in WVR
results : 2 MiG-29 and 3 F-16 shoot down
Red : 4 F-16 (escort) , 4 Su-22 ( bombers )
Blue : 4 MiG-29 (CAP)
-start at alt 8-9km
-distance : F-16 detect MiG-29 from 120km , track at 80 km , only one F-16 used his radar , and thanks to link 16 provide data to the others F-16s.
-first shoot were below 80km ( at max range ) - 4 AMRAAM and 2 R-27 , and all missiles failed.
-second shoot were below 50km - some r-27 and 2 AMRAAM were fire - and results some kills at 30km - 1 MiG was killed by AMRAAM and 2 Su22 by R-27
-second MiG-29 was killed ( but author didn't go into detail) – probably by another AMRAAM shoot.
-third Su-22 shoot down
-fight end in WVR , 2 vs 2 , results -1 MiG-29 killed by AIM-9X and another because lack of fuel .
- so 4 MiGs and 3 Su-22 were shoot down in this scenario
Now anyone could easily argue how a modern and domestic MiG-29-SMT
, with : enormously improved and refined aerodynamics performances ,full fly-by-wire guidance, latest ECM suit, latest MAWS ,latest radar and OLS and armed with....Izdeliye 170-1 and Izdeliye-760, would fare against those latest version of F-16s that obtained similar embarrassing results
(also in BVR
and ,not now , but since the first DACT exercises after Germany reunification ),against deeply downgraded export version of the most outdated model of MiG-29.
So much for the so much vaunted BVR capabilities of western aircraft ,totally AWACS-depending
( and also NATO is perfectly aware that the 20 E-3s would have been totally worthless and not-survivable against the Air Force of any advanced nation ) and in reality in need of overwhelming numerical, support and technological generation's advantages
to gain the upper hand over few , ridiculously downgraded early version of Fulcrum.