In a video released by the Russian Ministry of Defence, Mikoyan MiG-31 displayed its combat readiness in the stratosphere. The video shows the Interceptor aircraft take a flight from the airfield, reaching the stratosphere, roaring on the sky and practising intercepting enemy aircraft before landing smoothly.
“Under the drills’ scenario, a MiG-31 fighter of a composite air regiment of troops and forces in Russia’s northeast simulated intrusion into Russia’s airspace after gaining a supersonic speed at an altitude of about 20,000 meters,” reported Tass, citing the defence ministry statement.
To complicate the exercise, pilots were tasked with searching out the conditional ‘enemy’ without the help of ground-based air defences, the statement added. It further said that after detecting the intruder and locking on the target, the pilots conducted electronic launches of long-range air-to-air missiles.
Mig-31 is a Soviet-era interceptor aircraft and was introduced in service about 40 years ago. The aircraft was designed by the Mikoyan design bureau as a replacement for the earlier MiG-25. The design of Mig-31 is also based on Mig-25.
It is a two-seater aircraft with sharpened and swept-back wings. It was built to combat US spy planes including Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Dubbed as ‘Foxhound’ by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the aircraft can easily reach the speed of 3,000km/hour.
According to Air Force technology, the ferry and combat ranges of the aircraft are 3,300km and 720km respectively and the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 46,200kg.
Four long-range Vympel R-33E air-to-air missiles are installed in the MiG-31 aircraft. The Air Force Technology further noted that it 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 ammunition and can fire at a rate of over 10,000 rounds a minute.
The Russian military possesses 250 MiG-31s of various kinds in its inventory, including 10 modified to carry the Kinzhal hypersonic missile.
Kinzhal system can strike both land and maritime targets.“The Kinzhal system is designed to eliminate ground and sea targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry earlier said.
“Due to high flight characteristics of MiG-31 aircraft and high-manoeuvrable radar-stealth hypersonic missile, the Kinzhal has no analogues in the world.”
According to Mark Episkopos of The National Interest, from its inception in the early 1980s through to the present day, the MiG-31 has been the fastest aircraft to serve in the formerly Soviet and now Russian Air home-defence speed makes it especially well-suited as a home-defence interceptor, capable of zipping through Russia’s vast airspace to locate and engage intruders as quickly as possible.