Russia decided to upgrade its supersonic interceptors
MOSCOW, ($1=72.82 Russian Rubles) – Currently, the Russian aerospace force would have 80 MiG-31BM “Foxhound” “long-range interceptor” planes and ten MiG-31Ks, modified to carry the Kinzhal hypersonic missile. To these 90 aircraft, we must add those used by the Russian Naval Aviation, 32 MiG-31B / BS / BM.
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These devices are in reality MiG-31Bs which have been modernized, with the integration of the 8BM Zaslon-AM electronic scanning radar, which, associated with the Baget-55 computer, allows them to follow 24 targets and engage 6 of them. simultaneously, at a distance of 280 km. Their cabin has been modified, with new avionics, based on multifunction LCD screens.
In addition, their navigation system was improved when their means of transmission were reviewed. Finally, their weapons carrying capacity has been improved, with the possibility of having Vympel R-37M air-to-air missiles [NATO code; AA-13 Arrow], and R-73 [NATO code: AA-11 Archer]. As a reminder, the MiG-31K is an evolution of the MiG-31BM.
During the Soviet period, more than 160 MiG-31Bs were produced. And those that have not yet been upgraded to the BM standard have been placed in reserve. And, a prior, some of them shouldn’t stay there any longer.
Indeed, the manufacturer Mikoyan-Gurevich [MiG] recently let it be known that the Russian Defense Ministry had just awarded him two contracts, on the occasion of the last Army weaponry forum 2021, organized in the suburbs of Moscow at the end of August.
Thus, the first contract relates to the “repair of MiG-31 aircraft, with modernization to the level of the MiG-31BM”. The second concerns “the repair and modernization of the MiG-31K fighter-interceptors, carriers of Kinzhal hypersonic missiles,” MiG said, without giving more details on the number of aircraft involved, nor on the number of contracts obtained.
In January 2019, the Interfax agency reported the signing of a contract for the “major overhaul and modernization of another batch of fighter interceptors in the form of MiG-31BM“. And, at the time, Yuri Slyusar, CEO of OAK [the consortium of which MiG is a part, editor’s note] assured that “the entire MiG-31 fleet would be modernized by 2023”.
“We anticipate that in the coming years the aerospace forces will receive several dozen additional modernized MiG-31BMs, so by 2023 the entire existing fleet will be modernized,” Slyusar said.
In addition, a successor to the MiG-31 is said to be under development under the PAK-DP program. This device, which should be called MiG-41, is described as a 6th generation aircraft, to be able to fly at the maximum speed of Mach 4 and to have the ability to neutralize satellites, space drones, like the American X-37B, or even hypersonic gliders.
However, its development, which has been the subject of a few communications [and speculations] in recent years, is still far from being completed. Also, it has been argued that work had been launched to extend the MiG-31BMs to have a lifespan of several thousand flight hours, to enable them to remain in service for ten more years.
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