F-35 Lightning II vs. MiG-35: A Comparative Analysis

F-35 Lightning II vs. MiG-35 : In the ever-evolving landscape of modern aerial warfare, two fighter aircraft have captured the attention of military experts and aviation enthusiasts alike: the F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35. These aircraft represent different eras of design and come from different parts of the world, showcasing the diversity in approaches to aerial combat. In this article, we will delve into a comprehensive comparison between the F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35, examining their design and development, stealth capabilities, performance, avionics, weaponry, and their respective roles in air operations.

F-35 Lightning II vs. MiG-35 Comprission

Design and Development:

The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation multirole stealth fighter developed by Lockheed Martin for the United States and its allies. Its design places a strong emphasis on stealth, allowing it to operate deep within enemy territory while remaining virtually invisible to radar systems. The F-35 program is notable for its international collaboration, with various versions tailored to meet the needs of different nations.

On the other hand, the MiG-35, produced by Russia’s Mikoyan Design Bureau, is a fourth++ generation fighter derived from the earlier MiG-29. While it incorporates advanced avionics and weaponry, it lacks the full-spectrum stealth capabilities of the F-35. The MiG-35’s design is a testament to the Russian philosophy of agility and maneuverability, making it a formidable opponent in close-range combat.

Stealth and Low Observability:

One of the defining features of the F-35 Lightning II is its stealth technology. Its carefully designed shape, composite materials, and coating make it exceptionally difficult for enemy radar to detect. The F-35’s radar cross-section is significantly reduced, enhancing its survivability in contested environments. Moreover, it is equipped with advanced electronic warfare systems that further contribute to its stealth capabilities.

Conversely, the MiG-35 is not a true stealth aircraft. While it has some features to reduce radar reflections, it cannot match the F-35’s level of stealth. The MiG-35 relies more on its agility and speed to evade enemy threats rather than remaining undetected.


The F-35 boasts impressive performance figures, with a top speed of Mach 1.6 and a range of around 1,200 nautical miles. It can operate at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet and can achieve supersonic speeds without afterburners. Its advanced sensors and networking capabilities provide pilots with a significant advantage in situational awareness.

The MiG-35, while highly maneuverable, has a lower top speed, reaching Mach 2.2. Its range is approximately 1,864 miles, and it can operate at altitudes of up to 57,000 feet. The MiG-35’s performance aligns with its role as a versatile, close-range dogfighter.

Avionics and Sensors:

The F-35 Lightning II is renowned for its advanced avionics suite. It incorporates state-of-the-art sensors, including the AN/APG-81 AESA radar, Distributed Aperture System (DAS), and Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS). These sensors provide unparalleled situational awareness and the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously.

The MiG-35 features the Zhuk-ME AESA radar and an array of advanced avionics systems. While not as comprehensive as the F-35’s suite, it provides the MiG-35 with a potent sensor package, suitable for its intended role.


The F-35 can carry a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions, including the AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9X Sidewinder, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), and many more. Its internal weapons bays maintain its stealth profile while carrying a substantial payload.

The MiG-35 is equipped with a variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, such as the R-77 and Kh-35. It can also carry precision-guided munitions for ground attack missions.

Role in Air Operations:

The F-35 Lightning II serves as a multirole aircraft, capable of air superiority, close air support, electronic warfare, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. It is designed to be the backbone of allied air forces, providing versatile capabilities across a wide spectrum of operations.

The MiG-35, with its emphasis on agility and close-range combat, excels in air-to-air engagements and interception missions. It is a capable dogfighter and plays a crucial role in Russia’s air defense strategy.

Impact on Modern Warfare:

The F-35 Lightning II has revolutionized modern air warfare through its stealth, sensor fusion, and network-centric capabilities. It allows for integrated, data-driven operations and has set a new standard for air dominance. Its global presence with numerous allied nations underscores its significance in modern conflict scenarios.

The MiG-35, while not as technologically advanced as the F-35, contributes to Russia’s air power and defense capabilities. Its agility and close-range combat prowess make it a valuable asset in scenarios where aerial superiority is critical.

Comparison Table Between the F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35

Here is a comparison table between the F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35:

Category F-35 Lightning II MiG-35
Design and Development Fifth-generation multirole stealth fighter developed by Lockheed Martin. Fourth++ generation fighter derived from the MiG-29, developed by Russia’s Mikoyan Design Bureau.
Stealth and Low Observability Highly stealthy design, low radar cross-section, advanced electronic warfare systems. Not a true stealth aircraft, relies on agility and speed.
Performance Top Speed: Mach 1.6, Range: ~1,200 nautical miles, Altitude: Up to 50,000 feet. Top Speed: Mach 2.2, Range: ~1,864 miles, Altitude: Up to 57,000 feet.
Avionics and Sensors Advanced sensor suite including AN/APG-81 AESA radar, DAS, and EOTS. Features the Zhuk-ME AESA radar and various advanced avionics systems.
Weaponry Wide range of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions, internal weapons bays. Equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, precision-guided munitions.
Role in Air Operations Multirole aircraft, air superiority, close air support, electronic warfare, ISR. Emphasis on air-to-air engagements, interception missions, and air defense.
Impact on Modern Warfare Revolutionized modern air warfare, sets new standards for air dominance. Contributes to Russia’s air power and defense capabilities, valuable in dogfights.

Please note that the information provided in this table is a general overview, and specific capabilities may vary depending on the variant and configurations of each aircraft.

Size Comparison

Category F-35 Lightning II MiG-35 Fulcrum F
Length 15.6 meters (50.0 feet) 17.30 meters (56 feet 9 inches)
Wingspan 10.7 meters (35.0 feet) 12.00 meters (39 feet 4 inches)
Wing Area 42.0 square meters (460 sq ft) 38 square meters (410 sq ft)
Height 4.33 meters (14.2 feet) 4.70 meters (15 feet 5 inches)
Weight 13,200 kilograms (30,200 lbs) 11,000 kilograms (24,000 lbs)
Power 1 x 190 kN (43,000 lbf) 2 x 88 kN (19,800 lbf)

Dogfight (Close to Medium Range) Ratings

Category F-35 Lightning II MiG-35 Fulcrum F
Cannon GAU-22/A (20mm) GSh-30-1 (30mm)
Rate of Fire (rpm) 4,200 rpm 1,800 rpm
Muzzle Velocity 1,000 m/s 860 m/s
Size Point 10%-30% 20% 20%
Maneuverability 8.5 9.6
Thrust/Weight Ratio 1.07 1.14
AAM (first) AIM-9X AA-11 Archer
Operational Range 0.2 – 50 km 0.3 – 40 km
AAM (second) IRIS-T AA-8 Aphid
Operational Range 0.5 – 30 km 0.1 – 8 km
Dogfight Rating 70% 92%

These ratings provide an overview of their performance in close to medium-range dogfights.”

(Note: A higher rating indicates better performance in this context.)

Conclusion : F-35 Lightning II Vs the MiG-35

In conclusion, the F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35 represent two distinct paradigms of fighter aircraft design. The F-35’s emphasis on stealth and multirole versatility sets it apart as a dominant force in contemporary air operations, while the MiG-35’s focus on agility and close combat makes it a potent adversary in dogfights. Each aircraft brings its unique strengths to the ever-evolving theater of aerial warfare, shaping the strategies and capabilities of their respective nations.

Faqs About F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35:

1. What are the main differences between the F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35?

The F-35 is a fifth-generation multirole stealth fighter developed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. and allied nations, while the MiG-35 is a fourth-generation fighter developed by Russia’s RAC MiG.

The F-35 is known for its advanced stealth capabilities, whereas the MiG-35 lacks the same level of stealth.

The F-35 is designed for a wide range of roles, including air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). The MiG-35 is primarily an air superiority and ground attack fighter.

2. Which aircraft has better stealth capabilities, the F-35 or the MiG-35?

The F-35 is renowned for its advanced stealth features, making it highly effective in evading enemy radar systems. The MiG-35 lacks similar stealth capabilities.

3. What is the intended role of the F-35 Lightning II?

The F-35 is a multirole fighter designed to excel in air-to-air combat, air-to-ground missions, electronic warfare, and ISR. It aims to provide a versatile solution for modern air forces.

4. Is the MiG-35 designed for export to international customers?

Yes, the MiG-35 is marketed for export to international customers and has garnered interest from several countries.

5. How do their dogfighting capabilities compare?

The MiG-35 holds a higher dogfight rating, indicating superior maneuverability in close-range combat situations compared to the F-35. However, the F-35’s strengths lie in its advanced avionics and sensor suite.

6. Are there any notable differences in their weapons systems?

Yes, both aircraft use different air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface munitions. The F-35 typically employs AIM-9X and AIM-120 missiles, while the MiG-35 uses AA-11 Archer and AA-8 Aphid missiles, among others.

7. Which aircraft has a longer operational range?

The F-35 has a longer operational range compared to the MiG-35, allowing it to conduct missions at greater distances from its base.

8. Are these aircraft currently in service with any air forces?

Yes, the F-35 Lightning II is in service with several U.S. allies and partner nations. The MiG-35 has been ordered by the Russian Air Force and is also marketed for export.

9. How do their roles in modern air operations differ?

The F-35 is designed to provide air superiority and support a wide range of missions, including electronic warfare and ISR. The MiG-35 primarily focuses on air superiority and ground attack roles.

10. What impact have these aircraft had on modern warfare and air defense strategies? – The F-35 has set new standards for stealth and multirole capabilities, influencing the development of other fighter aircraft. The MiG-35 contributes to Russia’s air defense capabilities and aims to maintain a competitive edge in the international market.

These FAQs provide an overview of key differences and aspects of the F-35 Lightning II and the MiG-35 fighter aircraft.

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