MiG-31 seems to be the best aircraft Russia has in Ukraine
PANAGYURISHTE ($1=1.96 Bulgarian Levs) — Russia will clearly learn the lessons about the effectiveness of its fighters the hard way, but the most correct way – through war. The long-touted Su-27, Su-30, Su-34, and Su-35 of the Russian Air and Space Forces [VKS] are not all that superior in the air.
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The ratio in the air is 10:1 in favor of Russia. New aircraft with modern avionics and air-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles were supposed to close Ukrainian skies. Alas, Kyiv refused to surrender its skies and began countering with available and partner-donated surface-to-air missile systems.
The remaining small numbers of Su-27s, MiG-29s, and Su-25s of the Ukrainian Air Force are resisting, but logically – it is temporary and cannot expel the Russian invaders from the air. One of the main reasons for this is not Russia’s “super-modern Sukhoi fighters”, but an antiquated supersonic interceptor aircraft. The MiG-31 is the best aircraft Russia currently has in Ukraine.
Justin Bronk, Nick Reynolds, and Dr. Jack Watling published their report ‘The Russian Air War and Ukrainian Requirements for Air Defence’ at the Royal United Services Institute [RUSI] on 7 November. One month before that, BulgarianMilitary.com published its report ‘Russia retired SEAD MiG-25BM, which could have won in Ukraine’.
Some people say that to succeed today, you have to learn to know the past. The MiG-31 Foxhound was developed to replace the MiG-25 Foxbat. According to the RUSI report, the MiG-31 outperforms Ukrainian fighters in terms of speed, range, and altitude. This is because the MiG-31 inherits the speed of its predecessor, the MiG-25. Let us remind our readers that the MiG-25BM still holds the record for the fastest flight by a military aircraft.
The MiG-25BM was able to attack at high speed – Mach 3+. Today, the MiG-31 Foxhound can fly at Mach 2.5. According to the RUSI report, this aircraft can accelerate at this speed for short periods and fly up to 60,000 feet up to 450 miles.
The MiG-31 Foxhound is a two-seat aircraft. The Russian Air Force often uses it in pair patrols with the Su-35. It was this pair that proved to be a winner for the Russians. The MiG-31 can fire an R-37M missile at targets at a distance of 300 km. For reference, the Ukrainian Su-27 launches its Vympel R-27 missile at a distance of up to 50 km.
There are reports that the MiG-31 has shot down several Ukrainian fighter jets with its R-37M missiles. The design of this interceptor allows various types of missiles to be integrated into it, including anti-radiation ones. It is also a legacy of the MiG-25BM which was specifically designed as a Suppression of Enemy Air Defense [SEAD].
Another advantage highlighted by the RUSI report is the MiG-31’s ability to launch long-range missile strikes. It is for this reason that they can escape the battle unscathed. Since the start of the war, now nine months, only one downed MiG-31 has been reported. This aircraft is difficult to “hunt”, like its predecessor – the MiG-25BM. An interesting fact is that for all its services, the MiG-25BM was never shot down.
From late August to today, Ukraine has lost four MiG-29s, six Su-25s, one Su-24, and one Su-27, according to independent analysts. From the end of August until today, the MiG-31 has been conducting night patrols paired with the Su-35. Several pairs patrol eight zones over Ukraine. Their main goal, as the RUSI report says, is the detection and elimination of Ukrainian Su-25, Su-24, and MiG-29 Mikoyan aircraft.
The speed, range, and altitude of the flight, as well as the inability of the Ukrainian air defense to deal with the MiG-31, are the reason why the West is worried about the deployment of the MiG-31. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that MiG-31s with Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles are deployed in Belarus. Currently, the presence of MiG-31s in Ukrainian skies compensates for Russia’s lack of air superiority.
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