Russia paints four more MiG-31s on the Belbek runways asphalt

Recent satellite imagery of an airfield operated by Russian forces indicates a significant amplification in their accumulation of “camouflaged aircraft”. This technique involves marking images of specific aircraft on their airbases with the intention of deceiving intelligence. Another such instance of disguising aircraft was brought forth by OSINT analyst @MT_Anderson. 

@MT_Anderson disseminated images, taken on 26 October, of the Belbek air base located in temporarily occupied Crimea. The images depict several Russian aircraft, with a noteworthy presence of four painted MiG-31s. 

Notably, upon contrasting the painted MiG-31s with the actual ones located proximately, the discrepancies become evident. The painted aircraft are devoid of shadows and display rather blurred outlines. The color variation is also conspicuous. It’s conceivable that some outlines might still be awaiting paints. 

Russia is testing a remote control of the supersonic MiG-31 interceptor
Photo credit: Mil.ru

Earlier this month, @MT_Anderson had unveiled satellite images of the same “Belbek” air base in which the absence of painted MiGs as of 15 October was evident. Conversely, four authentic MiG-31 aircraft were present. 

Let’s recall that then, apart from the real MiG-31s that were parked at the runways, around 10 Su-27 and Su-30 aircraft are observable in these images, either sheltered or stationed on covered platforms.

It is worth recalling that the presence of painted aircraft at Russian airbases was first observed via satellite photos in the concluding phase of September this year. The images pinpointed the strategic airport “Engels” housing a minimum of two painted Tu-95MS bombers. 

Interestingly, one of the painted Tu-95MS bombers demonstrated characteristics of both Tu-95 and Il-76, suggesting a “hybrid” representation. The artists apparently failed to accurately replicate the bomber’s wing expansion in the painting. 

Returning to the recent satellite imagery from the Belbek airbase on 26 October, a significant observation surpasses the presence of the painted aircraft. A notable aircraft, presumably the Su-27, is shrouded in a hangar offering superior protection than mere tires and other temporary expedients.

Speaking of hangars, it is still not clear whether Moscow has decided to build fast-build hangars, which BulgarianMilitary.com wrote about some time ago.

In September, new photos emerged indicating the incorporation of recent hangars by Russia aimed at safeguarding aircraft against potential drone onslaughts. The images, disseminated via the Telegram social network, suggest that the remedy is either a provisional one or an option that remains in the testing phase. The aircraft situated in the makeshift hangar appears to be a model of an obsolete Russian fighter or a fighter plane that has long been decommissioned. 

The structure of the hangar entails metallic columns positioned on either side, extending the full length of the aircraft. These pillars are bolstered with oblique columns, angled at a minimum of 45 degrees, which along with the original 90-degree columns, are embedded into the ground. The parallel rows of columns, bordering either side of the hangar, undergo additional fortification through metallic beams following the 45-degree slant. 

The apex of the hangar features a crisscross mesh embodiment, purposed to serve as the primary barrier against kamikaze drone invasions. The design seemingly originates from the widespread practice in the early stages of warfare, of enfolding the turrets of robust terrestrial combat vehicles, inclusive of tanks, with metallic grills or self-constructed cages.

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