In March 2008 Russia's RAC-MiG signed a $964 million contract with the Indian Defense Ministry to modernize 62 MiG-29 fighters (54 fighters and 8 trainers). The project was expected to be completed by 2013, but is now expected to be completed by 2016.
The upgrade will allow the IAF to extend the life of the MiG-29 from the present 25 years (and 2,500 hours) to 40 years (3,500 hours).
The avionics and weapon suites of the MiG-29 UPG will have a high degree of commonality with the MiG-29K/KUB fighters of the Indian Navy.
The current N-109 radar has been replaced with the multifunction advanced slotted-array Phazatron Zhuk-M2E radar from Phazotron-NIIR Corporation.
The aircraft will feature the improved OLS-UEM IRST sensor.
NIPP is also equipping the aircraft with laser, thermal-imaging and television capabilities.
The Zhuk-M radar introduces advanced air to surface functions like mapping, moving target location and terrain following.
The avionics suite includes full-color multifunction liquid-crystal displays, helmet-mounted target designator from Thales, a Sagem inertial/satellite navigation system, an Indian EW system and an Israeli ECM station.
The modernization will improve the aircraft's air-to-ground attack capability and give pilots better BVR capability.
The aircraft's weapon suite will comprise RVV-AE air-to-air active radar homing missiles and air-to-surface precision-guided munitions, such as Kh-29T general-purpose TV-homing missiles, Kh-31A antiship active radar-homing missiles, Kh-31P antiradiation missiles, KAB-500Kr TV-homing smart bombs, etc.
The aircraft will be fitted with an aerial refueling probe allowing for extended range and airborne timeline.
Six aircraft are to be upgraded by RAC-MiG in Russia and the remaining at IAF’s 11 Base Repair Depot (BRD) in Nasik using kits supplied by RAC-MiG.
According to the original timeline, the first upgraded MiG-29 was scheduled to fly into India in March 2010. Fourteen aircraft were scheduled to roll out of 11BRD between April 2010 and March 2011. The upgrade program was to be completed by 2013.
However MIG officials told The Hindu in end July 2009 that there will be a delay of at least eight months in the arrival of the first upgraded aircraft.
The Russians hold the IAF responsible for the delay saying it has not finalized the ‘buyer furnished equipment.’
IAF was to provide RAC MiG the list of equipment and their actual physical dimensions that they want fitted on the upgraded MiG-29’s. Many of these items are to be sourced or integrated by Indian companies.
As of August 1, 2011, none of the six MiG-29UPG had been delivered.
Russia's MiG corporation carried out the first test fight of a MiG-29 fighter modernized under the upgrade contract (MiG-29UPG) on February 4, 2010.
"The flight lasted for an hour and was flawless," MiG said in a statement.
The first lot of the 62 upgraded Russian-built aircraft will be deployed at Adampur air base in the border state of Punjab, a Defence Ministry official said in October 2009.