Tag Archives: MiG-31

Russia welcomes new modified MiG-31 Foxhounds

The Russian Air Force base in Nizhny Novgorod recently saw the delivery of a wing of new modernized MiG-31BM Foxhound fighter-interceptor aircraft, the Minsitry of Defense in Moscow reported on Thursday 26 November.

Pilots and maintenance personnel of the air base, located 250 miles (400 km) east of Moscow, passed transition training for the new aircraft and will shortly start flight practice. In total, Russia aims to modify 110 MiG-31s to the BM standard, giving them at least a decade more of usable service life. The Foxhound first flew on 16 September 1975.

Fighter Wing

Tver Fighter Wing at Borisovsky Khotilovo, about 235 miles (378 km) from NATO’s border of Estonia, was the first to operate the BM version in december 2014.

Hitting air targets

Compared to the old Foxhound the new MiG-31BM has a modern weapons management system, a target detection range of almost 200 miles (320 km) and the ability to engage enemy aircraft at a distance of 170 miles (about 280 km). The aircraft is capable of simultaneously hitting six air targets and track up to ten.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The newest long-range interceptor of the Russian Air Force is the MiG-31BM (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

RAF Typhoons meet a flock of Russians

Four Su-34 Fullbacks, four MiG-31 Foxhounds and two An-26 Curls. That’s was the score in a single Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) last week for Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoons participating in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission over the Baltics. The Typhoons operated from Estonia to where they are deployed from homebase of RAF Lossiemouth in the UK.

The Typhoons met the Russian armada in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. The Russian aircraft appeared to be carrying out a variety of routine training missions, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. Since May, the Typhoons carried out 18 live intercepts of Russian aircraft, but never before did they encounter such a large formation of Russian airplanes.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): As seen from an RAF Typhoon. (Image © UK Ministry of Defence)

War games as usual over the Baltic Sea

While NATO, Sweden and Finland are jointly engaged in large scale military exercises on the Baltic Sea coasts and in the countries neighbouring Russia, it is business as usual in the air above the Northern European waters with Russia sending up bombers and escorts, and the opposing side scrambling fighter jets.

Last week was somewhat special. The stars and stripes were promoted big time by two US Air Force B-52H bombers dropping training sea mines off the coast of Skåne in Southern Sweden. They were escorted by at least four Swedish Air Force Gripen fighter jets. The training mission, with the Buffs flying in from the United Kingdom, was part of the large scale Baltops 2015 exercise (5 – 20 June), that also saw Swedish and US Marines landing on the Scandinavian coast using the USS San Antonio as main floating base. Baltops 2015 also marked the first time the B-52s were on a real operational training mission inside Swedish air space.

The last couple of days saw the more usual suspects. Russian aircraft gave acte de presence in international airspace bordering Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Denmark.

Royal Air Force Typhoons came home with nice pictures of a pair of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 Foxhound long-distance interceptors. Saab JAS 39 Gripen planes of the Swedish Air Force shadowed a pair of Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers escorted by two MiG-31s twice in 24 hours, as the Russian Air Force package was making a routine flight from the St. Petersburg area over the Baltic Sea towards Kaliningrad.

Baltic Air Policing
NATO planes at Ämari in Estonia and/or Šiauliai in Lithuania and/or Malbork in Poland also scramble to intercept a Ilyushin IL-20 at least on one occasion. The recon/spy plane is a regular for the NATO jets. The more specials of this week were a Iluyshin / Beriev A-50 AWACS and an Antonov AN-26. Currently the Baltic Air Policing mission on the three bases mentioned, is run by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) and the Belgian Air Component – both each with 4 F-16AM Fighting Falcons – plus the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force – both each with 4 Eurofighter EF2000 / Typhoon jets.

Saber Strike
Meanwhile NATO forces “attacked” a military airfield, Swidwin Airbase in Poland, as part of the multinational exercise Saber Strike 2015 (8 – 19 June) that includes the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well. The Saber Strike airfield assault that included a paradrop was meant to prep ground and air forces for a possible combined operation of the future.

In an attempt to keep things at bay in that future the US policy makers are now even considering sending half or a whole squadron of F-22A Raptor air-supiority stealth fighters to the other side of the Atlantic, but neither a time schedule or a possible base of operations has been revealed.

Looks like the start of a warm Summer in usually cold Northern Europe.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A MiG-31 in earlier action (Image © Olga Balashova / Russian Air Force)

Russia: “Two squadrons MiG-35 by 2020”

The Russian Air Force will operate two squadrons of the new Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-35 multi-role fighters comprising 30 aircraft by 2020, Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Yuriy Borisov said during a recent visit to the Nizhegorodskiy Aircraft Manufacturering Plant “Sokol” in Nizhniy Novgorod.

While visiting the plant about 240 miles (380 km) east of Moscow Mr. Borisov inspected the MiG-29 facilities as well as the MiG-31 overhaul. The latter, a long-range interceptor called “Foxhound” by NATO, is “a critical machine” to the Russian military. “That’s why we’ll have more than 130 upgraded MiG-31BMs operational in the next decade,” according to the Deputy Defence Minister. The new number is interesting, because previously it was known that the Russian Air Force has only 122 Foxhounds still on strength, with the modernisation program sanctioned for only 110 of them. The 25th upgraded MiG-31BM is expected to rotate back into the active force any time soon, with the program aiming at a turn-around of 12 to 13 Foxhounds a year.

The newest long-range interceptor of the Russian Air Force is the MiG-31BM (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
The newest long-range interceptor of the Russian Air Force is the MiG-31BM, which are upgraded older aircraft (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

No word yet on the basing locations of the new MiG-35, but we at Airheadsfly.com assume the first two squadrons will be positioned within 150 miles range of Russia’s western borders. Moscow is expected to order at least a hundred of these aircraft that NATO reports as “Fulcrum-F”, but more recently 180 production aircraft have been named as well. Before the production order is given, the Russian military awaits flight testing of two prototypes of the new jet fighter. It is not sure whether the production delivery timeline of the first aircraft in 2016 will still be met.

The Fulcrum-F is a further developed version of the MiG-29 with a better active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, more powerful engines, a Optical Locator System and a better ability to engage multiple targets in the air and on sea / on the ground at the same time. The MiG-35 will be able to carry a higher weapons load at nine external stations, an increased fuel capacity, an in-flight refuelling system and a fly-by-wire system that has three-channels and quadruple redundancy.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the Russian Aircraft Corporation
Featured image (top): The new Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-35 (Image © Russian Aircraft Corporation)

Russia: “MiG-31 to protect Northern Sea Route from the Arctics”

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 long-range interceptor – NATO-reporting name “Foxhound” – will protect the Northern Sea Route from Russian airbases in the Arctics, the deputy commander of the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (Voyska Vozdushno-Kosmicheskoy Oborony, or VKO) said on Saterday 7 April 2015 to Russian media and in a news release by the Russian Aircraft Corporation.

Whether the MiG-31s will be on temporarily rotation or permanently based on Arctic airfields, General Major Kirill Makarov didn’t say. “In the Arctic, we’ll place assets, such as the MiG-31, to detect enemy aircraft and fighter aircraft.”

Reconstruction at at least two Arctic airbases is underway. Tiksi Airbase in the far north reopens in 2017 as a MiG-31 (NATO-reporting name Foxhound) interceptor location. Relatively far off of everything the Russian Air Force seems eager to reposture itself to protect raw material, oil and gas reserves in the Arctics.

In August the Russian Ministry of Defence said it is also preparing the airfield of Temp on Kotelny Island – part of the New Siberian Islands – to be able to receive and service the large Ilyushin IL-76 airlifters in use in large numbers by the Air Force.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A modernized MiG-31 on approach (Image © Russian Aircraft Corporation)

A Sukhoi Su-24M ("Fencer") on a snowy airbase of the Russian Central Military District (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
Foxhounds and Fencers over the Barents Sea
A MiG-31 in earlier action (Image © Olga Balashova / Russian Air Force)
Another 50 Foxhounds to Bravo Mike standard
A Russian Air Force MiG-31BM catching "the bucket". Image released on 9 December 2014 of recent in-flight refuelling training (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
Air-to-air petrol: Russian style