Two MiG-31 K fighter jets capable of carrying Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have been deployed in the Khmeimim airbase in Syria for the first time as part of the preparation for upcoming joint military exercises, the Russian defense ministry said on Friday.
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The Russian Navy and the Aerospace Forces will conduct joint drills in the Mediterranean Sea on Friday.
“A pair of MiG-31K aircraft, which are able to use the newest Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, flew for the exercise to Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base in the Syrian Arab Republic,” the statement said.
The aircraft will carry out “learning tasks” in Syria, one of the crews said.
Earlier in the months of May and June this year, Russian MiG-31 had escorted a US Air Force patrol aircraft over the Barents Sea, the Northern Fleet said on Friday.
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“To identify the air target and prevent the violation of the Russian state border, a MiG-31 fighter from the air defense forces of the Northern Fleet was scrambled. The crew of the Russian fighter identified the air target as a base patrol aircraft R-8A Poseidon of the US Air Force and escorted it over the Barents Sea,” the statement says.
Russia’s MiG-31 fighter was also scrambled to escort Norway’s P-3C Orion patrol aircraft over the Barents Sea, Russia’s northern fleet said.
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“On May 27, 2021, Russia’s airspace control means detected an air target approaching the state border of the Russian Federation over the waters of the Barents Sea,” the fleet said in a statement, adding that a MiG-31 fighter was scrambled to identify the target and prevent the illegal crossing of the border.
“The crew of the Russian fighter identified the air target as a P-3C Orion basic patrol aircraft of the Norwegian air force and escorted it over the Barents Sea,” the northern fleet added.
After the foreign military aircraft turned away from the Russian state border, the Russian fighter safely returned to the home airfield. The MiG-31 flight was conducted in strict compliance with the international airspace use regulations.
In March this year, two Russian MiG-31 Foxhound supersonic high altitude interceptor jets made a flight over the North Pole, marking a significant milestone for the country’s navy.
The fighter jet made its maiden flight in 1975 and was introduced into service in 1981. Since then, it has been regularly upgraded and is the prime delivery platform for one of Russia’s key strategic weapons, the Kinzhal hypersonic nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missile (ALCM).