The Mig-29 is considered to be the first Russian aircraft comparable in quality of design to those in the west. It first became operational in early 1985 and since then has been exported to a number of countries.
Of a size comparable to the F/A 18 Hornet, the design reflected a change in the Russian tactics in the air. The Mig bureau created an aircraft capable of independent action rather than relying on ground control and guidance. The Mig 29 has a high level of manoeuvrability. The coherent pulse Doppler radar (which can track up to 10 targets simultaneously) combined with a laser range finder and infra-red search and track (IRST) device linked to the Helmet Mounted Sight (HMS) make it an excellent dogfighter. Two engines provide for high degree of survivability in combat.
About 345 of these fighters are in service with the Russian tactical air forces and 110 with the naval forces. In Germany, a number of ex-East German Mig-29s remain now in service with the unified Luftwaffe. 19 Mig-29As are used in interception role and 4 Mig-29UB in training. Currently all the Migs are assigned to Staffel 731 of JG 73 based at Laage. One of these machines, 29+12, is a subject of this walkaround.
The East German Migs were Russian export models and thus are less capable than their Russian counterparts. For example, the engines were downgraded to 90% maximum power. The radar system is less powerful, with detection range reduced to about 40km. Interestingly, even so, these Mig-29s have proven themselves more than capable on practice sorties against F-16 Falcons, defeating them with ease.
Despite of this, it is doubtful that the Migs will remain in Luftwaffe for long. With uncertain supply of spare parts and the extra cost of supporting only one staffel of Russian aircraft, the writing is already on the wall.
Mikoyan & Gurevich Mig-29A Fulcrum in detail
Since there are many photographs, the walkaround has been divided into sections presented below.