Russia MiG-31 A Supersonic High Altitude Interceptor Fighter

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Russia MiG-31 A Supersonic High Altitude Interceptor Fighter
Foxhound (photo: militarywatchmagazine.com)

A Supersonic High Altitude Interceptor Fighter – Hello everyone, in today's session, we will take a look at 's MiG-31 which is commonly known as A Supersonic high-altitude interceptor-fighter, if you are curious on what it is like, let's see the article below.

The refers to a supersonic interceptor plane designed for the Soviet Air Forces. This was planned as a replacement for the previous MiG-25 “Foxbat” by the Mikoyan design bureau. This jet was the first fourth-generation combat aircraft to join the Soviet military in 1981, and it is still recognized as the most capable air-to-air combat aircraft in the Russian Air Force today.

Moreover, the aircraft's maximum speed remains uncertain, with most reports saying a speed of over Mach 2.8 and others claiming a speed of over Mach 3. Additionally, the MiG-31 is the world's heaviest combat fighter weighing in at around 41,000kg depending on battle and fuel load. The aircraft were built to intercept not only all types of enemy aircraft, from bombers and observation planes to fighters and airborne early warning jets, but also missiles, with the aircraft capable of intercepting low-altitude cruise missiles.

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Russia MiG-31 A Supersonic High Altitude Interceptor Fighter
A MiG-31DZ in flight over Russia, 2012 (photo: en.wikipedia.org)

Significantly, the MiG-31 was developed with the following aims:

  • Intercept cruise missiles and their launch aircraft by arriving at missile launch range as quickly as feasible after leaving the loiter zone.
  • Detect and destroy low-flying cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and helicopters
  • Long-range strategic bomber escort
  • Provide strategic air defence in places where ground-based air defence systems are not effective.

It can be noted that a group of four MiG-31 interceptors can control an area of air space covering 800 to 900 kilometres in length. Its radar has a maximum detection range of 200 kilometres in distance and a typical detection width of 225 kilometres along the front. For the information, this jet was the world's first aircraft with a phased array radar and is one of only two aircrafts in the world capable of independently firing long-range air-to-air missiles as of 2013.

To be precises on its features, the MiG-31 is fitted with light duty (LD) / speed and direction (SD) sensor, track while scan (TWS) radar, infrared search and track (IRST) system and radar warning receiver (RWR) system. The aircraft utilizes partial power to track targets and the remaining to scan. The TWS radar system in the aircraft uses two new technologies – phased array radars and computer memory devices.

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In regard to its design, the MiG-31 features a streamlined and aerodynamic fuselage that allows it to fly at high speeds at low altitude. This jet is designed with sharped wings that swept back with square tips and negative slant. The design is intended to help tracking several targets at high altitudes at the same time. Furthermore, the MiG-31 has a large twin-engine with side-mounted air intake ramps, a shoulder-mounted wing with an aspect ratio of 2.94, and twin vertical tailfins. It has two seats, with the rear occupied by a dedicated weapon systems officer. Additionally, the aircraft is a two-seater with the radar being controlled by the occupant in the back seat. Although cockpit controls are duplicated across cockpits, the aircraft is usually flown solely from the front seat and the pilot controls the plane with a centre stick and left-hand throttles.

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Russia MiG-31 A Supersonic High Altitude Interceptor Fighter
MiG-31 with R-33 Missiles (photo: militarywatchmagazine.com)

For the recent updates, in early February this year, the Russian Central Military District performed an exercise against a fictitious intruder and while such exercises aren't that unexpected, this caught attention as it involved a MiG-31BM, a supersonic high-altitude interceptor-fighter. The pilots reportedly performed around 30 sorties in the drills, which took place near the Ural Mountains and featured practicing measures on their own to detect, track, forced to land, and notionally eliminate airspace intruders.

More recently, it was reported that the Russian military had improved the MiG-31 Foxhound and has explored the option of arming the home-defence interceptor with hypersonic missiles, which would make the airframe a very serious threat. For the last point, this interceptor, the MiG-31 will likely remain Russia's most hazardous combat fighter developed for air-to-air combat for years to come and will continue to be respected for its considerable capabilities by Russian adversaries.

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