US’ Most Spectacular F-35B Jets That Can Land & Take-Off Vertically Finally Gets A New Challenger

The US’ F-35B fighter jet with the unique ability to vertically land and take-off is likely to face a competitor soon from Russia.

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The Russian Aircraft Corporation “MiG” (Mikoyan) has started developing a fifth-generation carrier-based fighter and plans to create a prototype aircraft in the next few years, according to news agency – Sputnik.

Russia demonstrated its military aviation innovation in the just-concluded MAKS21 International Aviation and Space Expo held near capital city Moscow between July 20-25.

According to Russian officials, deals worth $3.59 billion were signed on the sidelines of the MAKS21, with 831 companies from 56 world nations participating through online and offline mode, TASS reported.

The much-awaited fifth-generation stealth jet ‘Checkmate’ Su-75 remained the highlight of the international expo, making headlines in the international media.

The MiG-35 multi-role fighter. (Image: UAC)

“The company (MiG) is working on a promising 5th generation carrier-based fighter, which will be made using stealth technologies. The stage of computer modeling is now underway, the first prototype is planned to be released in the next few years,” a Russian military-industrial complex official told Sputnik News Agency.

Since the report mentions that the developers are considering the possibility of creating a version of the fighter with vertical take-off and landing, military enthusiasts have begun comparing it with the US’ F-35B, developed by Lockheed Martin.

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The F-35B

One of the most advanced fighter jets in the world, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation stealth jet with high maneuverability, supersonic speeds, and multi-role capabilities.

An F-35B conducts a vertical landing (Image: Lockheed)

With a speed of Mach 1.6 (1,200 mph) and range up to 900 nautical miles, the F-35 has unmatched avionics, and is equipped with the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, considered the most powerful fighter engine in the world.

Out of the three variants, the F-35B has a short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) capability, which can be used either on land or on an aircraft carrier.

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The STOVL feature makes the jet land vertically like a helicopter and take off in very short distances. This allows it to operate from austere, short-field bases and a range of air-capable ships.

Costing more than $100 million per jet, the F-35B is one of the most expensive jets in the world. It is operated exclusively by the US Marine Corps, apart from being exported to Japan, the UK, Italy, and South Korea.

The US Marine Corps currently has around 80 F-35B jets in service, divided into five squadrons, and plans to purchase a total of 353 jets of this variant.

The F-35B variant received basic certification in 2015, which allows the plane to fly patrols and conduct basic strikes, but they are not yet ready for more advanced missions.

In February 2021, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA(AW) 225 “Vikings” officially transitioned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 225, becoming the latest one to join the F-35B squadron.

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The MiG-35

Sputnik reported that the new carrier-based jet is expected to be modeled on MiG-35. It will also include a companion drone that will perform the functions of either refueling or joint strikes.

The MiG-35 is the latest combat fighter in the MiG series with improved avionics and advanced weapons systems and the first Russian jet equipped with an AESA radar.

The 4++ generation multi-role fighter MiG-35 recently impressed upon the spectators through demonstration of its superior avionics in the MAKS21 airshow.

It is equipped with a Phazatron Zhuk active phased array radar that can detect multiple targets, is resistant to electronic countermeasures, and has a longer detection range than previous Russian-made radar platforms.

The MiG-35 was first unveiled at the 2007 edition of the Aero India show in Bengaluru, India. Flight tests began in January 2017 and the first batch of six jets was ordered in August 2018.

The first two serial aircraft were delivered to the Russian Aerospace Forces in June 2019.

Experts view the MiG-35 as an advanced version of the series-built MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft for export purposes.

The MiG-29K is a Russian all-weather carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft developed in the 1980s and a significant part of the Russian and the Indian naval squadrons.

The MiG-35. (via Twitter)

Available in both single and twin-engine seat versions, the MiG-35 can fly at a maximum speed of 2.23 Mach, placing it on par with the F-22 Raptor, Su-35, and other high-end designs.

Its operating range exceeds that of the MiG-29 aircraft by 50%, and the three-dimensional thrust-vectoring engines allow super maneuverability which is rivaled only by that of the Su-35.

MiG-35 Vs F-35

According to experts who wished to stay anonymous, the thrust element makes the MiG-35 a superior dogfighter and provides it with the capability to evade beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile attacks in a way the F-35 cannot.

The Russian jet can also carry twice the payload of the F-35.

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However, the American fighter has a decisive advantage in its stealth capabilities and hosts the most sophisticated electronics and computer architecture.

However, only 14 have been produced to date – including six tests and eight serial-produced aircraft. Moreover, Russia remains the sole operator of the MiG-35, despite marketing the jet as an export product.

An F-35B.
Recently, the Russians have placed this jet in the tender for the delivery of 110 medium fighter jets for the Indian Air Force, as reported by Eurasian Times. The new carrier-based variant could be a gamechanger for the Russian jet, which is yet to procure any international contract yet.