Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Russian MiG-31 Downs Ukrainian Su-25 Fighter Jet In ‘Look Down Shoot Down’ Attack From High Altitude

The Russian MoD (RuMoD) announced on October 27, 2022, that a Russian MiG-31 fighter had shot down a Ukrainian Su-24.

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According to the RuMoD: MiG-31 fighters were tasked to conduct air patrols in assigned areas. The crew detected an air target during one of its flights. Once it was confirmed that the target was a hostile aircraft, the crew launched an air-to-air missile to intercept the Ukrainian Su-24.

The accompanying video shows a MiG-31 crew strapping in for the mission and taking off carrying two 300-km range RVV-BD missiles under the fuselage and two 110-km max range RVV-SD missiles under wing pylons.

Two long-range RVV-BD missiles underneath the MiG-31 fuselage

After take-off, the aircraft is shown turning and climbing to a high altitude. It then settles down in a combat patrol.

No missile launch is shown. On landing, the aircraft is still seen with its 2 RVV-BD missiles still under the fuselage and one RVV-SD missile on the right wing pylon. The left-wing is not seen in the footage.

Medium-range RVV-SD missile under the wing

If the aircraft shown in the video was the aircraft involved in combat, then it could be assumed that the MiG-31 shot down the Su-24 using an RVV-SD missile.

The RVV-BD missile would normally be used against high-value assets operating at extreme ranges, including tankers and AWACS.

An Izvestia report on the incident shows footage in which Alexander, commander of the MiG-31 aircraft, says that the Su-24 crew became aware of the threat posed by MiG-31 and “tried to maneuver to disrupt the attack.”

They (MiG-31 crew) launched long-range missiles, illuminated them, and observed the Su-24 disappearing from their airborne radar. They then received confirmation from their controlling radar that the Su-24 aircraft had been hit. The MiG-31 then resumed its air patrol.

A MiG-31K armed with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal
File Image: MiG-31K armed with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal

Both the RVV-BD and RVV-SD require the launching aircraft to continue illuminating the target with their radars till the time that their AESA radar seekers lock on to the target.

The MiG-31BM variant is equipped with Zalson-AM PESA radar which is very effective in detecting low-flying targets, including cruise missiles, against ground clutter.

Ukrainian fighters, which mostly fly at low levels to evade detection by Russian ground-based air defense (AD) radars, are easily picked up by the Zalson radar of the MiG-31.

  • Vijainder K Thakur is a retired IAF Jaguar pilot. He is also an author, software architect, entrepreneur, and military analyst. 
  • Reach out to the author at vkthakur (at) gmail.com
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