Russia will extend the service life of MiG-31 supersonic interceptor aircraft

MOSCOW, (BM) – The Russian interceptor fighter MiG-31, “Foxhound” for NATO, will probably have a second life: sources from the military-industrial complex and the military department told the Izvestia news agency that the question of extending the operational life of MiGs -31 is currently being studied in order to allow its use for at least another ten years, learned

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Since it is a single platform considered capable of engaging any flying target [aircraft, drone, cruise missiles or hypersonic aircraft], radiation awaiting a future interceptor [known by the acronym PAK-DP or MiG-41] still to come.

The technicians believe that the airframe of the aircraft also made using titanium allows, after a radical update, to fly for a long time to come.

According to the aforementioned sources, the question of the extension of the operational life of MiG-31 supersonic interceptors is under consideration but the final decision will be made only on the basis of the results of the research and development [R&D] work already started and with a defined program and divided into two phases.

The first by the end of 2021 includes tests to confirm the extension of the life of each cell to 3000 flight hours; the second by the end of 2022 for the final extension to 3500 flight hours.

All MiG-31BMs currently in service [130/150 machines] were built between the late 1980s and early 1990s and their lifespan is limited to 2500 flight hours, therefore extending their life a thousand hours will allow the “Foxhounds” to remain in service at least until the mid-1930s.

In this regard, last year the UEC [United Engine Corporation, ODK in Russian] announced that it was ready through the Perm Motor Plant [PMZ] to quickly resume the production of key components and systems of the exclusive D-30F6 engines installed on the MiG- 31.

In fact, PMZ had produced about 1,600 engines of this type in the period 1979-1992 but, as can be guessed due to the high use of the MiG-31 fleet in the last decade, the stock of spare engines is running out and the Defense ran for cover. According to company sources, by 2022 the company will be able to provide repair and replacement kits including numerous and extensive parts.

Read more: A very real threat: Russia tests an anti-satellite missile, the US Space Forces says

Finally, let’s not forget that the recent equipment of the Kh-47M2 Kinžal air-to-surface hypersonic missile on the special MiG-31K (equipped with new on-board equipment, a greater quantity of fuel and special communication equipment) or the future Kontakt antisatellite missile system in equipment to the future MiG-31DZs make the interceptor fighter an irreplaceable aircraft with multiple resources capable of adopting a range of armaments.

Including the R-37M long-range air-to-air system capable, according to the manufacturer, of hitting aerial targets at high speed, being able to accelerate in the final phase of flight up to Mach 6.0 over a maximum distance that depends on the profile of use: 150 km per a direct launch and up to 300 km for a high-altitude launch typical of cruise missiles and also can engage targets from any altitude between 15 and 30,000 meters.

About the Kh-47M2 Kinžal in 2018 ten MiG-31Ks entered experimental combat mode in the south of the country and in that case the exercises demonstrated in practice the possibility of hitting targets with Kinžal at a distance of at least 800 kilometers. According to Moscow, the high speed and maneuverability make the hypersonic missile in question invulnerable to modern air defense systems.

Russian MiG-31BM interceptor turned into a satellite killer, the US claims

Russia is working on a new type of anti-satellite weapons, reported on May 3 citing The National Interest (NI) magazine.

The weapon “includes tiny satellites equipped with weapons, a small accelerating engine and an MiG-31 interceptor, which acts as the first stage of the entire system,” an article published by NI says.

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The National Interest refers to Bart Hendrix, whom the online publication The Space Review called “a longtime observer of the Russian space program.”

Hendricks believes that the anti-satellite system is being created “as part of the Petrel project, and Russia has abandoned explosives and the warhead of the strike, choosing instead “predatory microsatellites that maneuver towards their targets in low Earth orbit and disable them”.

National Interest calls “Hendrix’s evidence highly compelling.”

In particular, it is indicated on the photo of 2018. In the picture – “MiG-31BM with a large black rocket suspended under the fuselage.” The photo was taken while observing “the activities of the Gromov Flight Research Institute in Zhukovsky near Moscow.” The rocket, as stated in the article, seems “too large” for the air-to-air or air-to-surface class, but the size is suitable “for anti-satellite weapons.”

Hendricks, citing open sources, claims that the project “has began September 1, 2011.”

According to the publication, “the most convincing fact is that since 2013 Russia has been conducting orbital tests of the so-called inspection satellites.” According to the National Interest, they “can maneuver next to other spacecraft supposedly in order to check for damage.” The publication believes that they “without major modifications can be used as weapons.”

Hendricks believes that “an analysis of publicly available online Russian sources leaves little doubt that the MiG-31BM and the rocket are part of a broader anti-satellite project.”

Recall, the U.S. Air Force space command said that Russia allegedly conducts tests of a direct interception anti-satellite missile.

Read more: Supersonic targets have been intercepted by Russia’s MiG-31 in a drill


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