Cockpit Video Filmed From A Russian MiG-31 Escorting a Tu-95 Shows “Friendly” Encounter with NATO F-16

A screenshot of the video showing a MiG-31 pilot giving the thumbs-up sign to a RNoAF F-16.

Interesting video from a Foxhound during a close encounter with an F-16.

The video below was filmed from the cockpit of a MiG-31 escorting a Russian Tu-95MS as what appears to be a Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 approaches the package: the Russian pilot waves and gives the NATO pilot a thumbs up sign.

Unfortunately, we don’t know when and where the intercept took place, although it’s quite likely that the close encounter occurred in international airspace off Norway, where Russian Tu-95s and Tu-142MK ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) and maritime patrol aircraft are shadowed by the RNoAF jets. As happened, on Mar. 7, 2020, when a Tu-142MK and a Tu-142MR Bear-J VLF band radio communications relay platform, escorted by at least one MiG-31 Foxhound (armed with R-33 missiles) were intercepted by RNoAF F-16s from Bodø as well as the Norwegian F-35A launched from Orland Air Station for their first intercept of Russian aircraft.

The interaction between the NATO and Russian jets appears to be quite friendly, as often been for decades during the Cold War. Nothing like the “unsafe intercept” frequently reported lately or shown in videos we have frequently commented here at The Aviationist.

The latest unsafe intercept was reported on Apr. 15, 2020, when a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft flying in international airspace over the eastern Mediterranean Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-35 that conducted a high-speed, inverted maneuver, 25 ft. directly in front of the mission aircraft, “which put our pilots and crew at risk [because of wake turbulence]” as the USN claimed.

Back to the new video, it’s worth remembering that the MiG-31 Foxhound is a replacement for the similarly configured MiG-25 Foxbat, a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor originally conceived in response the U.S. XB-70 Valkyrie Mach 3+ strategic bomber that never entered service. The Foxbat achieved notoriety on September 6, 1976, when Russian pilot Viktor Belenko defected to Japan with a MiG-25.

The MiG-31 Foxhound is a two-seater derivative of the MiG-25.

It is a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor, in service since 1983 fielded to counter the B-1B bomber, which was designed to operate at low-level, below the radar coverage. Hence, the MiG-31 has quite good low-level capabilities and is equipped with an advanced radar with look-down-shoot-down capability needed to detect low-flying bombers, and data bus, allowing for coordinated attack with other fighters.

Although it does not belong to the latest generation of fighters, with its top speed of Mach 2.83 and a range of 1,450 km the Foxhound is still one of the most amazing interceptors ever built. Russia has recently upgraded their MiG-31 fleet with new capabilities that include hypersonic missiles and even a small satellite launch capability that was tested.

As a side note, a Kazakh Air Defense Forces MiG-31 interceptor has crashed last week.

A big thank you to our friend Lasse Holmstrom for sending this over!

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.