MiG-31 Foxhound

MiG-31 Foxhound

A long-range supersonic interceptor aircraft, the MiG-31 Foxhound, a two-seat aircraft developed principally for the Russian and Kazakhstan Air Forces, was derived from MiG-25 Foxbat. The maiden flight of the MiG-31 took place in September 1975. Mikoyan is the designer and manufacturer of the MiG-31.

MiG-31 can work efficiently in all weather conditions while fulfilling visual flight rules (VFR) and instrument flight rules (IFR), day and night. It is equipped with state-of-the-art digital avionics. MiG-31 was the first soviet fighter aircraft to have true look-down and shoot-down capability.

Approximately 500 MiG-31 aircraft have been produced, out of which 370 were delivered to the Russian Air Force and 30 are in service with Kazakhstan Air Force. The remaining aircraft were upgraded to different variants under several upgrade programmes. Only some of the Russian MiG fleet have been upgraded to MiG-31BM standards under the upgrade programme.

Russian MiG-31 aircraft contract to Syria

In 2007, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) signed two contracts worth $1bn with Syria. One contract was for MiG-29M and another for MiG-31. The deliveries of MiG-29M are ongoing, but those of MiG-31 were not effective till 2009 when the UAC confirmed its plans to deliver the eight MiG-31 aircraft to Syria as part of the $1bn contract. The eight MiG-31 aircraft were ordered in a deal worth $400m signed in 2007. The order was cancelled in May 2009 due to pressure from Israel and lack of funds.

MiG-31 Foxhound development

The MiG-25 Foxbat was unable to fly at low altitudes. The installation of inefficient turbojet engines led to decrease in combat range at supersonic speeds and an increase in the speed gauge of the MiG-25 resulted in the destruction of the aircraft’s engine.

“The MiG-31 Foxhound is a two-seat aircraft developed for the Russian and Kazakhstan Air Forces.”

In an effort to overcome the drawbacks of the MiG-25 Foxbat, the MiG-31 was developed to fly at low altitudes with required supersonic speeds. MiG-31 is equipped with efficient low-bypass-ratio turbofan engines, which allow an increase in combat range.

Production of MiG-31 began in 1979 and the aircraft was fully operational with the Soviet Anti-Air Defence (PVO) by 1982. The economic slowdown in the USSR has made the maintenance of its complex MiG-31 aircraft difficult for many squadrons. As a result, around 20% of the MiG-31 aircraft were removed from service. About 75% of these aircraft, however, re-entered service with the Russian Air Force in 2006 when strong economic growth returned.

MiG-31 design

The MiG-31 has a highly aerodynamic and streamlined body to enable flying at high speeds at low altitude. The aircraft is specifically designed to track multiple targets simultaneously at high altitudes.

The MiG-31’s airframe contains various materials including welded nickel steel (49%), titanium (16%), aluminium alloy (33%) and 2% of composites. Four underwing pylons are also fitted in the fuselage of the aircraft.

The aircraft’s fuselage is designed to provide lateral rectangular and diagonal cut air intakes and features a bubble canopy with a long pointed nose.

The wings are sharpened and swept back with square tips and negative slant.

Cockpit

The MiG-31 cockpit is equipped with digital avionics such as MFDs and liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which provide updated instrument readings and radar information.

Both front and rear sides of the cockpit are equipped with zero / zero ejection seats which allow the pilot to fly at the altitude and airspeed preferred. The pilot sits in the front seat of the cockpit while the weapon system officer (WSO) sits in the rear cockpit seat, controlling the radar operations and weapon deployment thereby decreasing the work load of the pilot and increasing the efficiency.

Armament

Four long-range Vympel R-33E air-to-air missiles are installed in the MiG-31 aircraft. The R-33 can be launched in inertial navigation mode to shoot the target at extreme range. It can be guided in semi-active radar homing (SARH) mode for initial acquisition and mid course updates. It is used for attacking large and high-speed targets such as the SR-71 Blackbird, the B-1 Lancer bomber, and the B-52 Stratofortress.

The aircraft is also equipped with four short-range R-60MK missiles and two Bisnovat R-40TD1 medium-range missiles. A six-barrel 30mm internal cannon (Ghs-6-23M) is installed above the starboard main landing gear bay of the MiG-31 aircraft. The cannon contains 800 rounds of ammunitions and can fire at a rate of over 10,000 rounds a minute.

MiG-31BM can accommodate the AA-12 Adder missile and various Russian air-to-ground missiles (AGMs) such as the AS-17 Krypton anti-radiation missile (ARM).

Performance

The MiG-31 can climb at a rate of 208m a second and has the capacity to fly at 3,000km/h. The ferry and combat ranges of the aircraft are 3,300km and 720km respectively. The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 46,200kg. The cruise range and wing loading capacities are 1,620m and 665kg/m² respectively, while the maximum g-load is 5g.

Radar

The MiG-31 aircraft is equipped with world’s first electronically scanned N007 Zaslon phased array radar. It is also known as SBI-16 Zaslon (Flash Dance) radar and operates from the rear cockpit by WSO. It can receive signals from early warning radar (EWR) and airborne warning and control systems (AWACS). Zaslon has the capacity to scan 200km distance. The radar can trap ten targets and engage four simultaneously flying in the surrounding radius of the aircraft (behind and below the aircraft).

“Commercial satellite launch variants MiG-31A and MiG-31S have been used to train astronauts.”

The antenna of Zaslon is fixed and can be moved electronically. The electronic steering of the radar beam is much faster and accurate than mechanical steering.

The Zaslon radar has the capacity to search and attack various targets in air and ground using continuous and discontinuous fields of control and guidance commands despite target defensive manoeuvres, electronic counter measures (ECM) and adverse weather conditions.

Sensors

MiG-31 is equipped 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 assigns 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.

The IRST sensor detects and tracks jet aircraft and helicopters that emit infrared rays, while the RWR systems detect radar systems emitting radio waves through the ground or in the air. The RWR comprises a visual display unit (VDU) in the cockpit that monitors radars by producing audible sounds.

Engines

MiG-31 supersonic aircraft is equipped with two Solovyev D-30F6 turbofan shaft engines with a take-off thrust 15,500kgf each. The dry thrust of the D-30F6 is 9,500kgf for each engine. The engine provides a maximum speed of Mach 1.23 at low altitude and increases the aircraft’s range. The fuel consumption of the MiG-31 is very high compared to other aircraft, principally due to its multiple roles.

Variants

  • Ye-155MP (MiG-25MP): Prototype modification of the early MiG-31. First flight on 16 September 1975.
  • MiG-31: First variant which entered in serial production. 349 aircraft were built.
  • MiG-31M: Development of a more comprehensive advanced version, the MiG-31M, began in 1984 and first flew in 1985, but the dissolution of the Soviet Union prevented it from entering full production. One piece rounded windscreen, small side windows for rear cockpit, wider and deeper dorsal spine. Digital flight controls added, multifunction CRT cockpit displays, multi-mode phased array radar. No gun fitted in this model, refueling probe moved to starboard side of aircraft, fuselage weapon stations increased from 4 to 6 by adding two centre-line stations. Maximum TO weight increased to 52,000 kg (115,000 lb) using increased thrust D-30F6M engines instead of the D-30F6 engines. 1 prototype and 6 flyable pre-production units were produced.
  • MiG-31D: Two aircraft were designated as Type 31D and were manufactured as dedicated anti-satellite models with ballast in the nose instead of radars, flat fuselage undersurface (i.e. no recessed weapon system bays) and had large winglets above and below the wing-tips. Equipped with Vympel ASAT missiles. Two prototypes were built.
  • MiG-31LL: Special modification used as a flying laboratory for testing of ejection seats during flight.
  • MiG-31 01DZ: Two-seat all weather, all altitude interceptor. Designated as MiG-31 01DZ when fitted with air-to-air refueling probe. One hundred produced of DZ variant.
  • MiG-31B: Second production batch with upgraded avionics and in-flight refueling probe introduced in 1990. Its development was the result of the Soviet discovery that Phazotron radar division engineer Adolf Tolkachev had sold information on advanced radars to the West. A new version of the compromised radar was hastily developed. MiG-31B also have the improved ECM and EW equipment with integration of improved R-33S missiles. Long range navigation system compatible with Loran/Omega and Chaka ground stations added. This model replaced the 01DZ models in late 1990.
  • MiG-31E: Export version of the MiG-31B with simplified avionics. Never entered in serial production.
  • MiG-31BS: Designation applied to type 01DZ when converted to MiG-31B standard.
  • MiG-31BM: After passing state testing in 2008 this modernized variant of MiG-31B was approved for introduction into air force of Russia. 50 planes are modified to MiG-31BM (Bolshaya Modernizatsiya/Deep Modernization) standard in accordance with 2011 contract. Efficiency of modernized MiG-31BM is 2.6 times greater than basic MiG-31. The MiG-31BМ’s maximum detection range for air targets was increased in the upgrade to 320 km (200 mi). It had the ability to automatically track up to ten targets, and the latest units can track up to 24 targets and simultaneously engage up to eight targets. The on-board Argon-K is replaced with new Baget 55-06 computer that selects four targets of highest priority, which simultaneously are engaged by long-range R-33S air-to-air missiles. New long range missile R-37 (missile) with speed of Mach 6 and range up to 400 km (250 mi) is developed during modernization process for use with newly modernized MiG-31. MiG-31BM has multi-role capability as is capable of using anti-radar, air to ship and air to ground missiles. It has some of avionics unified with MiG-29SMT and has refueling probe. MiG-31BM broke world record while spending seven hours and four minutes in the air while covering the distance of 8,000 km (5,000 mi).
  • MiG-31BSM: An upgrade of the BS version, it is the latest modernization variant first time contracted in 2014 for modernization of 60 aircraft, it is very similar in some aspects to the BM standard. Unlike the BS standard, aircraft modernized into the BSM standard are equipped with air refueling probe. Improvements were made to the aircraft canopy, where new and better heat resistant glass was used, thus enabling the MiG-31BSM to fly with cruise speed of 3,000 km/h (1,900 mph) at long distances without any damage. Furthermore, new faster central computer Baget-55-06 is used with addition of multi-functional displays, one for pilot and three for weapons operator-navigator. Also there is a new set of navigation equipment. The MiG-31BSM has multi-role capability with ability to use anti-radar, anti-ship and air-to-ground missiles. Main visible difference between the BS and BSM standards is adding of the rear-view periscope above the front cockpit canopy.
  • MiG-31K: Modified MiG-31BM variant capable to carry the hypersonic Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ALBM. Ten aircraft have been modified as of May 2018. With this modification and with removed APU for air-to-air missiles, the aircraft gained a sole role of an attack aircraft.
  • MiG-31F: Planned fighter-bomber intended for use with TV, radar and laser-guided ASM weapon systems. Never entered serial production.
  • MiG-31FE: Planned export version of the MiG-31F.
  • MiG-31I (Ishim): Proposed modification for air launch to orbit of small spacecraft with a payload of 160 kg (350 lb) to 300 km (190 mi) altitude or 120 kg (260 lb) to 600 km (370 mi) altitude orbit.
  • MiG-31 (Izdeliye 08): MiG-31 modified as a launch platform for the Izdeliye 293 Burevestnik anti-satellite missile. At least two prototypes converted. Tests from September 2018.

Specifications

Crew 2 (pilot and weapons systems officer)
Length 22.62 m (74 ft 3 in)
Wingspan 13.456 m (44 ft 2 in)
Height 6.456 m (21 ft 2 in)
Wing area 61.6 m2 (663 sq ft)
Empty weight 21,820 kg (48,105 lb)
Gross weight
41,000 kg (90,390 lb)
Max take off weight 46,200 kg (101,854 lb)
Power plant (Dry thrust)
2 × Soloviev D-30F6 turbofan engines, 93 kN (21,000 lbf)
Power plant (Thrust with afterburner) 
2 x 152 kN (34,000 lbf)
Maximum speed (Sea level)
Mach 1.21 (930 mph, 1,500 km/h)
Maximum speed (High altitude) Mach 2.83 (1,900 mph, 3,000 km/h)
Combat radius
1,450 km (900 mi, 780 nmi)
Ferry range
 3.300 km
Service ceiling
25,000 m (82,000 ft)
Rate of climb 208 m/s
Wing loading 665 kg/m2 (136 lb/sq ft)
Thrust/weight  0.85
Design load factor  
Avionics

  • 8TK IRST
  • Phazotron Zaslon passive electronically scanned array radar
Armament

  • Guns: 1 × 23 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-6-23M rotary cannon with 800 rounds (later removed)
  • Hardpoints: 8 × underwing pylons

Operators

  • Kazakhstan Air Force – 25 in inventory as of 2017.
  • Russia
    • Russian Air Force – about 250 in inventory and approximately 120-132 (MiG-31B/BS/BM/BSM) in service as of 2017. Modernization of the MiG-31s is carried out by the Sokol Aircraft Plant under two contracts signed in 2011 and 2014. In total, 113 aircraft will be modernized to the MiG-31BM/BSM standards by the end of 2018–2019. Approximately 110 aircraft were modernized as of August 2017. Deliveries continue as of 2020. Ten jets have been modified to the MiG-31K version and carry the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile as of May 2018.
    • Russian Naval Aviation – 32 in inventory as of 2016.
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