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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 Foxhound
Role: interceptor, airborne command
Variants: Ye-155MP (prototype), MiG-31 (Foxhound-A),
MiG-31B/BS (Foxhound-A), MiG-31D,
Operators: Russia, Kazakhstan
The Russian MiG-31 is a long-range supersonic interceptor. It used to
be dedicated to the air defense of the Soviet Union. Although based
on the MiG-25 the many changes neccessary to improve range and
flight performance at low altitude resulted in an all new aircraft. The fuselage was strengthened to
make it suitable for supersonic flight at low level. The 'Foxhound' is powered by
two D-30F6 turbofans which improved range drastically over the MiG-25 engines.
The D-30F6 needed larger air intakes and larger exhaust nozzles. The key to succes
of the MiG-31 as an interceptor is the Zaslon SBI-16 phased array radar. This fire control
radar is capable of tracking 10 targets at ranges up to 120 kilometers (75 miles) and
engage four targets at once. Tracking and engagement is the task of the WSO
which is seated behind the pilot. It is armed with four longe-range R-33 (AA-9 Amos) air-to-air missiles
carried under the fuselage.
The MiG-31B incorporated an improved Zaslon-A fire control radar, superior long-range missiles (R-33S), additional missiles (the R-40TD medium-range missiles and R-60 short-range missiles), modernised navigation computer and new data exchange modes.
The MiG-31B was also equipped with in-flight refuelling system, whereas the MiG-31BS designation was used for MiG-31B upgrades lacking this ability.
The MiG-31D was a specialised variant for the Russian equivalent of the ASAT program. The MiG-31D carried
a single anti-satellite missile. It can be recognized by the big vertical fins at the wing tips.
In 1992 the MiG-31E (export) was first presented on the Berlin Air Show ILA. Only one aircraft was built.
The MiG-31M is a highly improved version of the original MiG-31. It has new IRST and
phased-array radar to engage six targets at the same time. It is capable of carrying the R-37, which
is an improved version of the R-33 AAM. And it is also capable of carrying the R-77 (AA-12 Adder), instead of
the R-40TD, which was used on the MiG-31B. The cockpit was redesigned and features three color
multi function displays. Other changes include larger fuel capacity, no gun, uprated engines, aerodynamic
improvements, larger brake chute housing, redesigned nosewheel. Six prototypes were built but none
have been ordered.
The MiG-31BM is an upgraded MiG-31B which adds an air-to-surface capability. New onboard
computer systems and a new fire control radar capable of tracking up to 24 targets simultaneously.
The MiG-31FE was a proposed multipurpose variant of the MiG-31 with improved weapons systems and avionics.
It is able to operate the majority of the Russian air-to-surface missiles. Laser and TV equipment for missile
guidance would have been accommodated in an external pod. Intended for export, it did not receive any orders.
Kazakhstan inherited around 30 MiG-31 Foxhounds after the break up of the Soviet Union.
Some of these aircraft remain in operational service.
ASAT MiG-31D with wingtip fins
MiG-31E export interceptor