Tag Archives: Mig-31 Foxhound

Russia Test Fires New Kh-47M2 Kinzhal Hypersonic Missile

First “Kinzhal” Fired from MiG-31 in Southwest Russia Hits Target According to Russians. But it’s a modified Iskander SRBM.

The Russian Aerospace Forces have conducted the first successful test firing of the air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile according to state sponsored media outlets.

The missile, supposedly named Kh-47M2 and referred to as the “Kinzhal”, was fired from a modified MiG-31BM (NATO reporting name “Foxhound”) over Southwest Russia. A report published on Facebook by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the “unique” MiG-31 that fired the missile had been “modernized”. Rogozin did not specify what modifications or “modernized” meant.

In video and still photos portions of the weapon seen in the test launch are obscured by imaging software, presumably for security purposes.

The official news release from the Russian Aerospace Forces read in part, “MiG-31 jet of the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted a test launch of hypersonic aviation and missile system Kinzhal in a set district. The launch was successful, the hypersonic missile hit the designated target at the field.”

Kinzhal is claimed to be a strategic air-to-surface strike missile. The missile is claimed to have maneuverable flight characteristics not typically seen in hypersonic, solid fuel missiles. Observers of Russian missile programs have voiced skepticism about Russia’ performance claims however. According to Russians and reference sources the Kinzhal missile has a top speed of Mach 10 and maintains some ability to maneuver throughout its performance envelope including at hypersonic speed. If accurate, these capabilities could make the Kinzhal difficult to intercept by anti-missile systems. The missile is reported to have a range of 1,200 miles (approximately 2,000 kilometers). This, added to the reported 1,860-mile unrefueled range of the MiG-31BM long range, supersonic interceptor, gives the Kinzhal potentially intercontinental strike capability. The missile is also reported to be nuclear-capable and able to hit ground as well as naval targets.

Still photos of the MiG-31 Foxhound released by the Russian Aerospace Forces were obscured over some areas of the new Kinzhal missile. (Photo: Russian Aerospace Forces)

Writer and analyst Kelsey T. Atherton wrote in Popular Mechanics, “Don’t believe the hype about Russia’s hypersonic missile” back in June, 2017 when discussing Russia’s Zircon missile, a sea launched hypersonic missile. The War Zone’s Tyler Rogoway compared the new Kinzhal with Russia’s existing Iskander short-range ballistic missile in his analysis.

This first Russian Kinzhal test comes several months after the Indian Brahmos-A hypersonic missile test from November 22, 2017. The reported performance of the Indian Brahmos was a top speed of Mach 7 and a range of 290 kilometers. The Indian hypersonic missile was launched from a modified Sukhoi Su-30MKI. The Indian hypersonic missile project was completed in close cooperation with the Russians.

A screen grab from the video released on YouTube details the new Kinzhal missile. (Photo: Russian Aerospace Forces/via YouTube)

Hypersonic cruise missiles have the capability to defeat or degrade the effectiveness of most current surveillance and anti-missile systems because of their speed (and, in the case of this new Kinzhal, claimed capability to maneuver). The choice of the aging MiG-31, that would probably launch the Kinzhal from +60,000 feet at supersonic speed, is aimed at giving the tactical ballistic missile much more reach than it would have if launched from the ground: indeed, during the Cold War, the long-range high-altitude interceptor was supposed to be used as launch platform for anti-satellite weapons that could destroy targets in near space. Capable to carry up to four long-range R-33 missiles and four short-range R-77 missiles, not only was the MiG-31BM expected to carry a weapon able to shoot down space satellites; it was also intended to be used as a “cruise missile interceptor”: the Foxhounds have been involved in tests to intercept cruise missiles, previously Kh-55 and more recently Kh-101, for years.

While the Kinzhal appears to be an air-to-ground missile the pairing of this nuclear capable hypersonic missile recalls the much older AIR-2 Genie nuclear armed air-to-air missile with a 1.5 kiloton warhead. The AIR-2 Genie and earlier versions of the same missile were deployed by the U.S. Air Force from 1957-1962.

In remarks from an earlier state of the nation address at the beginning of March, Russian President Vladimir Putin told media that the Kinzhal has been “operational” prior to this test launch. Russian media also said there had been “250 test flights” to validate the operational status of the Kinzhal prior to this test launch. There was no mention if the missile or any more of the modified MiG-31s are operationally deployed yet.

According to defense journalist Babak Taghvaee, six MiG-31BM interceptors have already been turned into launch platforms and they are based at Akhtubinsk:

In contrast with the Russian claims, while traveling to Oman, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that nothing Russia demonstrated changed the Pentagon’s perspective.

“I saw no change to the Russian military capability and each of these systems that he’s talking about are still years away, I do not see them changing the military balance. They do not impact any need on our side for a change in our deterrence posture.” Indeed, the missile seems to fuel the propaganda machine more than it actually changes the strategic balance. However, it’s a development worth following, especially if we consider the maritime strike capability that an air-launched ballistic anti-ship missile brings in the game.

Russia’s firing of the Kinzhal joins not only the Indian hypersonic missile tests from last year but also the Chinese DF-17 hypersonic glide missile tests and the U.S. tests of hypersonics being conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

This Footage *Allegedly* Shows A Russian MiG-31 Shooting Down A Cruise Missile In The Stratosphere.

According to the Russian MoD this video shows a Russian MiG-31 Foxhound taking down a cruise missile.

According to the press center of the Pacific Fleet of Russia, a Russian Navy MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor launched from the Kamchatka Peninsula, intercepted a supersonic cruise missile in the stratosphere during exercises that were conducted on the eve of the celebration of the Day of Naval Aviation.

The missile was launched from the water area of the Sea of Okhotsk at an altitude of more than 12 kilometers at a speed three times the speed of sound, Pravda new outlet reported.

The Mig-31 Foxhound is a two-seat Mig-25 Foxbat derivative in service since 1983.

Whilst the MiG-25 was built as a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor, capable of reaching the speed of Mach 3.2 to intercept American B-58 and B-70 bombers, the MiG-31 was designed to intercept the B-1B bomber, which was designed to operate at low-level, below the radar coverage.

The MiG-31 has quite good low-level capabilities (which MiG-25 does not) 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.

The production of the Mig-31, one of the world’s fastest tactical fighter in active service with top speed of Mach 2.83 and a range of 1,450 km, ended in the early 1990s, but the interceptor is being upgraded to extend its operative life up to the 2028 – 2030.

The Russian MiG-31BM jet, capable to carry up to four long-range R-33 missiles and four short-range R-77 missiles, was expected to carry a weapon able to shoot down space satellites; according to some sources, the ability to intercept a cruise missile, previously Kh-55 and now Kh-101, is something practiced by the Russian Foxhounds for years.

The video below, released by the Russian MoD, is said to show the test conducted on Jul. 17 (even though the actual interception of the cruise missile can’t be seen.)

Generally speaking, combat aircraft can intercept cruise missiles and engage them. However, such missiles are quite difficult to detect: they are optimised for low level flying through the Terrain Following capability, have a low radar cross-section and heat signature and, they are small.

This means that an inteceptor using a long-range missile from the right position and altitude might be able to do the job. But it shouldn’t be something too easy.

Testing conducted by the U.S. Navy has shown that shooting down cruise missiles, flying at low-level and high-speed is actually a pretty difficult task: on Sept. 12, 2016, a live test fire demonstration involved the integration of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B from the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX 1), based in Edwards Air Force Base, with existing Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) architecture.

F-35 and Aegis Combat System Successfully Demonstrated Integration Potential in First Live Missile Test (Lockheed Martin)

The F-35B acted as an elevated sensor (to detect an over-the-horizon threat as envisaged for the F-22) that sent data through its Multi-Function Advanced Data Link to a ground station connected to USS Desert Ship (LLS-1), a land-based launch facility designed to simulate a ship at sea. Using the latest Aegis Weapon System Baseline 9.C1 and a Standard Missile 6, the system successfully detected and engaged the target: a test that proved how detecting, tracking and engaging cruise missiles requires cutting edge anti-surface and anti-air weapons.

On the other side it is somehow interesting to note that a rather old weapons system, the MiG-31, albeit operating a Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA) radar, can be able to intercept stealthy cruise missiles (like the Kh-101 reportedly used in some tests), with the support of an AWACS plane.

We don’t actually know the exact type of test the Russians conducted. For sure it wasn’t a low flying cruise missile like a Tomahawk, since this was reportedly flying in the “near space.”

The video below shows a past test when four MiG-31s, supported by an A-50 Mainstay, reportedly fired and hit a Kh-55 launched by a Tu-95 Bear.

“The cruise missile was destroyed at an altitude of 300 meters above the ground from a distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the target,” the Russian MoD said in a statement, quoted by Russian-owned outlet Sputnik News, back in 2015.

Anyway, Russia has other weapons systems nominally capable of repelling cruise missile attacks, as well as jets and drones: the S-400 anti-aircraft defense is able to engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft (someone says even VLO – Very Low Observable ones), drones and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 250 miles at an altitude of nearly 19 miles.

Let us know what you think and know about the MiG-31 ability to intercept waves of cruise missiles.

Top image: file artwork by Pravda.ru

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Russian Mig-31 intercepts U.S. P-8 patrol aircraft near Russia’s Far East

A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon was intercepted by a Mig-31 near the Kamchatka peninsula.

On Apr. 21, a Russian Air Force MiG-31 jet intercepted a U.S. P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft flying in international airspace near Kamchatka Pensinsula, in Russia’s Far East, where a firing range used also to test intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from Borei-class strategic nuclear submarines is located.

The Russian Soviet-design supersonic interceptor flew within 15 meters of the U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane but unlike some of the previous “close encounters”, the interception was conducted in a “safe and professional” manner according to Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the Pacific Command, who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

Indeed, the incident occurred one week after a U.S. Air Force RC-135 electronic intelligence gathering aircraft flying a routine mission (in international airspace) over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 that barrel rolled over the American spyplane.

Few days earlier, Russian Su-24s performed several low passes over a U.S. destroyer in the Baltic Sea, whereas on Jan. 25, 2016 a U.S. RC-135 intelligence gathering jet was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet over Black Sea that made an aggressive turn that disturbed the controllability of the Rivet Joint.

On Apr. 7, 2015 another Su-27 flew within 20 feet of an RC-135U, over the Baltic Sea.

On Apr. 23, 2015 a U.S. Air Force RC-135U performing a routine surveillance mission over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, some 60 miles off eastern Russia was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker that crossed the route of the U.S. aircraft putting itself within 100 feet of the Combat Sent.

What’s newsworthy this time is the fact that the interception was conducted by one of the world’s fastest interceptor on one of the newest U.S. reconnaissance planes.

The Poseidon is a derivative of the Boeing 737, incorporating a 737-800 series fuselage mated to 737-900 wings and featuring raked winglets to improve low-altitude fuel burn. The aircraft can carry the Mk-54 airborne ASW torpedo and the Harpoon anti-ship missile. The aircraft is also an intelligence gathering asset offering greatly improved communications and connectivity in comparison with the P-3C Orion.

On the other side, the Mig-31 Foxhound is a two-seat Mig-25 Foxbat derivative in service since 1983.

Whilst the MiG-25 was built as a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor, capable of reaching the speed of Mach 3.2 to intercept American B-58 and B-70 bombers, the MiG-31 was designed to intercept 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 (which MiG-25 does not) 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 the Mig-31 is quite obsolete, it is still one of the most amazing interceptors ever built, with top speed of Mach 2.83 and a range of 1,450 km. The production of the Mig-31 ended in the early 1990s, but the interceptor is being upgraded to extend its operative life up to the 2028 – 2030.  Until a replacement is available the Mig-31 will remain one the world’s fastest tactical fighter in active service to defend the Russian airspace.

Image credit: Dmitriy Pichugin

Photos of 10 Russian warplanes intercepted by RAF Typhoons over the Baltic Sea….in one sortie!

Last Friday was quite a busy day for the RAF Typhoons supporting NATO Baltic Air Patrol mission.

On Jul. 24, the Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets intercepted and identified 10 (!) Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

The RAF Typhoons from 6 Sqn at RAF Lossiemouth, in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at Amari airbase, Estonia, were launched as a large formation of Russian planes flew close to the Baltic States airspace (most probably going to or returning from Kaliningrad Oblast).

Su-34s Jul. 24

According to the UK MoD, once airborne, the RAF jets identified the aircraft as 4x Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback attack planes, 4x Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound fighters and 2 x Antonov An-26 Curl transport aircraft who appeared to be carrying out a variety of routine training.

Su-34s Jul. 24 2

Newsworthy, Russian activity in the Baltic region has increased even more in the last few days. On Jul. 29, NATO interceptors identified 12 Russian military aircraft flying near the Latvian border: 3x An-76 and 1x Il-76 cargo planes, 4x MiG-31s and 4x Su-24s, were detected flying near the Latvian outer sea border, above the Baltic Sea in international airspace.

An-26 Jul. 24

Image credit: Crown Copyright

 

Russia has moved Mig-31 interceptors close to Ukrainian border

Russian build-up along the Ukrainian border continues.

According to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the Russian Federation is continuing to amass forces at the border, including radar stations and Mig-31 Foxhound combat planes, interceptors capable of a maximum speed of Mach 2.83.

An unspecified amount of Mig-31s based at Perm have been deployed to Millerovo airfield, in the Rostov region, close to the border with Ukraine, a sign that Moscow may be preparing to actively control the airspace over Luhansk Oblast.

The MiG-31 is a two-seater derivative of the MiG-25 in service since 1983. Designed to face U.S. supersonic strategic bombers flying at low altitude (B-1B bomber), the MiG-31 has quite good low-level capabilities and features a radar with look-down-shoot-down capability. Equipped with a HUD (Head-Up Display), the Foxhound is older and less maneuverable than Mig-29 and Su-27, but it is still an amazing interceptor, with a top speed of Mach 2.83 and an operational range of 1,450 km.

Although the production of the Mig-31 ended in the early 1990s, the Foxhound interceptor is being upgraded to extend its operative life up to the 2028 – 2030, until a replacement will be available.

In the meanwhile, the Russian Air Force has plans to base the aircraft at Tiksi airfield, located on Russia’s Arctic Ocean coast.

According to Ukrainian Government, along with Migs and radars, Russian tanks have been reported crossing the border, whereas hundred pieces of military equipment have been deployed by the Russian Federation inside Ukraine.

Image credit: Dmitriy Pichugin/Wikipedia