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MiG-35 vs F-16? Russian Veteran Pilot Explains Which Plane Would Win in a Dogfight

© Sputnik / Vladimir AstapkovichAn MiG-35 jet performs a demo flight at the MAKS 2015 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky outside Moscow.
An MiG-35 jet performs a demo flight at the MAKS 2015 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky outside Moscow. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.08.2023
Reconnaissance and attack unmanned aerial vehicles remain part and parcel of the Russian air force, Major-General Vladimir Popov, an honored military pilot of Russia, told Sputnik.
Saturday marks Russian Air Force Day, a professional holiday of the armed forces service branch, which is celebrated annually on August 12.
Sputnik has asked Major-General Vladimir Popov, an honored military pilot of Russia, to give his thoughts about the development of the modern-day Russian air force.

Russian 4++ Gen Planes on Right Track

"The approaches we [Russia] are using indicate that we have chosen the right strategy for the development and improvement of combat aviation," Popov said, stressing the necessity of further focusing on the upgrading of 4+ and 4++ generation fighter jets.

He stressed that these Russian warplanes, including those related to the Su (Sukhoi) family, had performed “brilliantly” and can be even compared to the F-22 Raptor, the US-made fifth-generation multi-purpose fighter in terms of characteristics.
Additionally, Popov mentioned the MiG-35 Fulcrum aircraft, the highly modernized version of the MiG 29, touting the former as "a unique light plane."

He recalled that according to American calculations, the MiG-35 is "comparable" to the US Navy’s F-16 multirole fighter when it comes to "maneuverability, combat potential, and survivability."

© Sputnik / Grigoriy Sisoev / Go to the mediabankMAKS-2011 international air show
MAKS-2011 international air show - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.08.2023
MAKS-2011 international air show
As for hypothetical dog fights, the honored Russian pilot went on, the MiG-35 will most likely prevail over the F-16 because the latter is a single-engine aircraft, which means that the plane will hardly survive if its engine is damaged.
Popov referred to his previous battle experience, when he flew the Su-24 all-weather tactical bomber. At the time, he remembered, he sometimes successfully landed his aircraft with one of the two engines being damaged.
"After the plane is restored, it will again be efficient and combat-ready, something that means much to the state and its economy," the expert pointed out.

Russian Combat Air Force in Special Operation

Popov underscored that the Russian Armed Forces "have switched to the wide use of aviation equipment to conduct massive air strikes" in the special military operation zone in Ukraine.

"Not only do we [Russian pilots] fly alone or in pairs, but we are also making group flights, which is already adding to the combat effectiveness of the battle aviation in the special operation zone," he said, adding that the Russian warplanes currently prioritize launching strikes on air defenses and command posts of the Ukrainian army.

Separately, Popov praised the Russian forces, which are widely using reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) along with attack drones, such as the Lancets, which he said is "effective and meets all modern requirements."
© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresensky / Go to the mediabank Russia's Lancet drone. File photo
 Russia's Lancet drone. File photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.08.2023
Russia's Lancet drone. File photo
The expert recalled that "almost every second [Ukrainian] tank on the battlefield is now being destroyed by the Lancet drones or their analogues." He called for staging joint missions of manned aviation and UAVs, the effectiveness of which Popov said "would be unique."

Air Force Day History

Touching on history of the Air Force Day, the expert reminded that it dates back to August 12, 1912, when the Staff of the Aeronautical Unit of the Russian army’s General Staff was established.

This was followed by maiden flights of the Russkiy Vityaz (Russian Knight) and the Ilya Muromets planes in 1913, which added significantly to developing combat aviation in Russia.

© Sputnik / Igor Mikhalev / Go to the mediabankSikorsky Ilya Muromets heavy bomber
Sikorsky Ilya Muromets heavy bomber - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.08.2023
Sikorsky Ilya Muromets heavy bomber
Popov added that apart from the Ilya Muromets, which "lifted up to two tons of cargo," the Russian army also carried out tests of reconnaissance planes, which were then used in the First World War.
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