The Bangladesh Air Force awarded a contract to Belarus state owned 558 Aircraft Repair Plant for upgrading its entire fleet of MiG-29B and MiG-29UB fighters consisting of six MiG-29s and two dual seat MiG-29UB fighter aircraft.
These aircraft were procured newly from Russia and commissioned in 2000. By 2017 the Air Force announced plans to have them undergo a Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) program, which would focus on upgrading key components such as the aircraft’s radar and fire control system, optical sights, overhauling of engine and other avionics components in order for the MiG fleet to provide another 5 to 6 years of satisfactory service.
Initially Russia showed interest in upgrading the MiG-29’s to SM standards provided the Bangladesh Air Force purchase the MiG-35 (and Su-30). Moreover the Russian aerospace industries quoted a much higher price than was deemed feasible by the Bangladesh Air Force. Plans to upgrade them through Russia were subsequently dropped with Belarus being the only viable alternative in assisting upgrading the MiG fleet.
558 Aircraft Repair Plant of Belarus offered to transform the MiG-29 from an air superiority fighter to a multi-role combat platform.
The MLU package proposed by the Belarus SOE entails:
- Expansion of the range of air weapons used;
- Large multi-Function display unit;
- Improvement of accuracy and enhancement of functional capability of the navigation suite;
- Cockpit control and navigation instrumentation upgrade;
- Implementation of new operating modes of the radar sighting system;
- Installation of DME, VOR/ILS, aircraft transponder;
- Use of the aircraft power plant and systems monitoring complex;
- Installation of a flight data audio and video recording system;
- Installation of Satellite-M2 electronic countermeasure equipment;
- Flying range extension through installation of a fixed refueling boom;
- Installation of EMI shielding equipment.
Extending the range of applied weapons:
- “air-to-ground” guided missiles KH-25ML, KH-29Т (ТЕ), KH-29L, KH-31А, KH-31P;
- air bombs KAB-500KR, KAB-500L.
Introduction of the new operation modes of the radar targeting system, which allows to detect targets at the distance:
- In “air-to-air” mode to front hemisphere—150–160 km;
- “Launcher” type with RCS of 30 m²—40 km;
- “Hangar” and “Railroad Bridge” types with RCS of 1000 m²—150 km;
- Water surface targets in the mode of real-time observation—350 km.
Extension of the functional capabilities of the navigation system, which enables:
- Input and storage of data on waypoints, aerodromes and radio-beacons, up to 99 points of each type (in standard version—up to 6 points);
- Generation and storage of the data on 8 routes (in standard version—2 routes);
- Automated and manual changes of navigation points during the flight;
- Detection of the flight speed with the accuracy of 0.2 m/s;
- Capability to carry out navigation in accordance with ICAO (VOR, ILS/DME);
- Accuracy of detection of the actual coordinates of the aircraft of ±5 m (in standard version—700 m).
Installation of airborne data receiving and transmitting system:
- Transmission of coordinates of the detected ground targets to ground control centers;
- Control over the aircraft position in the air;
- Storage of data on flight parameters at a ground operator;
- Control over operation of aviation materiel;
- Assistance to a pilot in special cases;
- Training of pilots;
- Ground targeting.
Newly added weapons launching capabilities enable the MiG-29BM to operate in a multi-role capacity. The aerial munitions include (with maximum range and loadout):
- R-29ER (117 km) x 2
- R-27ET (104 km) x 2
- RVV-AE (80 km) x 6
- Kh-25ML (Kh-25ML – semi-active laser guidance with tandem warhead that can penetrate 1 metre (39 in) of concrete with 11 km range) x 4
- Kh-29L (Uses semi-active laser seeker and has a range of 8–10 km) x 2
- Kh-29T (Is the TV-guided version which is fitted with automatic optical homing to a distinguishable object indicated by the pilot in the cockpit) x 2
- Kh-31A (Is a supersonic anti-ship missile with an active radar seeker to be used against vessels up to 4,500 tons. The missile has a minimum range of 7.5 kilometres (4.0 nmi) and maximum range of 70 kilometres (38 nmi). Missile is sea-skimming as it approaches the target. The missile use penetrating warhead) x 2
- Kh-31P (Passive seeker head for use as an anti-radiation missile. Stays at high altitude throughout its flight, allowing higher speeds and increasing range to 110 km (60 nmi; 70 mi). The seeker has three interchangeable modules to cover different radar frequency bands, but they can only be changed at the factory) x 2
- KAB-500KR (TV guided bomb with 380 kg warhead and total weight of 520 kg capable of penetrating 1.5 m of reinforced concrete with maximum target range of 17 km depending on visibility) x 4
- KAB-500S-E (Satellite guided glide bomb with 560 kg mass, 195 kg warhead and 40 km range) x 4
- S-13 (122 mm calibre unguided rockets with range of up to 6 km) x 2
- Satellite-M2 (EXM pods) x 2
The first four MiG-29s have been upgraded and are awaiting delivery in 2021. The next batch of MiG-29s will be sent to Belarus for the MLU once the first batch returns to Bangladesh.
From planning to execution of the project it has taken roughly four years to upgrade the aircraft.
The armaments are being bought separately from Russia through Rosoboronexport with requirements outlined by the Bangladesh Air Force for BVRAAM, anti-ship missiles and laser guided munitions.