Tag Archives: Mikoyan MiG-31

Here is an extremely cool video of Russian Mig-31 Foxhound jets refueling from Il-78 Midas tankers

This is something you don’t see every day.

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 is quite obsolete, with 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, often encountered by U.S. and NATO fighter jets during standard routine identification of Russian warplanes over the Baltic Sea.

Here is an interesting video of some Russian Mig-31s refueling midair from an Il-78 Midas tanker.

H/T Lasse Holmstrom for the heads up

 

Here’s a cool video of the Russian warplanes met by the Norwegian F-16s over the Baltic Sea

Here’s an interesting compilation of “zombies” intercepted by RNoAF (Royal Norwegian Air Force) F-16s in BAP (Baltic Air Patrol) duty.

Since May 1, the RNoAF has taken over the leading role of the NATO’s BAP (Baltic Air Patrol) mission.

Four F-16s and about 70 pilots and support personnel deployed to Siauliai Airbase, in Lithuania, where they joined the Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets (deployed there since the beginning of the year), to protect the airspaces of the Baltic States Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, that don’t have their own air defense capabilities.

The following video was just released by the RNoAF.

It contains clips filmed by the F-16’s targeting pod, showing some of the Russian warplanes intercepted on routine A-Scramble (Alert Scramble) launched from Siauliai, including a pretty rare A-50 Mainstay, an Airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport; an Il-20 Coot spyplane and a Su-24 Fencer attack plane.

Last year, one RNoAF F-16 almost collided with a Russian Mig-31 during a Su-34 intercept mission.

H/T Giuliano Ranieri for the link to the video

 

Russia is working to modernize its strategic aviation to maintain a deterrence capability

Russian Strategic Aviation modernization programs involve Tu-160 and Tu-95 bombers.

According to the rumors reported by the Polish Altair media outlet, the Kazan-based KAZ (Kazanskiy Aviatsyonniy Zavod) facility would be ready to start building brand new Tu-160 Blackjacks.

15 more bombers are needed to maintain Moscow’s strategic deterrence capability: out of 12-13 Tupolevs of this type in the Russian Air Force, only 5 examples are combat capable, only one of those has been modernized since it entered active service.

The news of Soviet-era production lines reopened or sold to China have emerged in the last years and denied shortly thereafter so the rumors should be taken with a grain of salt. Anyway, provided the news is well-founded, the decision to reactivate the production line of the Tu-160 would be a sign that it is probably easier and more cost-effective to build new Blackjacks and refurbish the existing ones, instead of waiting for a completely new strategic bomber R&D program, as the PAK-DA.

Indeed, many believe the Russian industry lacks technology and resources to produce the PAK-DA, the next generation strategic bomber, a subsonic flying wing-shaped aircraft with radar-evading capabilities, advanced electronic warfare systems and able to carry new nuclear-capable long-range cruise missiles, destined to replace Moscow’s aging fleet of Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers.

According to some analysts the troubled development of the Sukhoi’s PAK-FA, Russia’s fifth generation stealth fighter jet, that still lacks a proper power-plant, is the proof that Moscow’s aerospace industry is simply unable to develop futuristic combat planes.

It is estimated that reactivation of the Backfire production line would cost more than USD 2 billion, while price tag for a single Tu-160M bomber is believed to be around USD 250-350 million.

However, there are many other problems that make the re-opening quite unlikely: as Altair news outlet noted, Tupolev lacks in digital documentation (the documents are being transformed into digital form now, as A claims) and human resources. Production process also involves titanium processing which always has been painful for the Russians. It was visible e.g. back in the 1970’s, when MiG-25 was designed. The airplane, instead of being made out of thermally resistant titanium, was made mainly out of steel. What is more, some components of the Tu-160 bombers came from Ukraine – acquisition of these, in the current geopolitical context, would be difficult at best.

Russia is currently in a dire situation economically, hence the news about the relaunch/modernization of the Blackjacks raises some doubts. If that is not enough, TASS agency claimed that Moscow is also going to upgrade ten examples of the Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers. The modernization is going to focus on radio-electronic portion of the aircraft, including navigation and landing-assistance systems. All in all, Russian MoD claims that about 70% of the Russian strategic aviation inventory is to be modernized by 2020.

Dealing with strategic bombers, Russians have decided to deploy the Tu-22M3 Backfire-C (which is a smaller brother of the Blackjack) to bases in the Crimean peninsula. This was announced by the Russian Ministry of Defence back on Mar. 17; even though the U.S. is banned from introducing aircraft carriers into the Black Sea, considered the threat posed to flattops by air-launched cruise missiles, the Pentagon now has one more reason not to do it.

The whole Russian activity which additionally involves exercises which are being carried out in the Western and Central Military Districts. The drills have been ordered by Putin on Mar. 16, and are supposedly aimed at testing the quick reaction capabilities of the Russian Army. It additionally involves training in deployment of the Iskander and Iskander-M strategic missiles (which, by the way, constitute a breach of the INF treaty) in the Kaliningrad area, north of Poland. This may cause further tensions in the region.

Strategic aviation also involves strategic transport operations. Russia Today claims that not only are the Russians working on a prospective strategic bomber (the already mentioned PAK-DA, designed by Tupolev bureau), but they also started works on a strategic transport PAK-TA airplane, which is to be capable of reaching speeds of up to 2,000 km/h and transport payload of 200 tonnes at distances of 7,000 km.

RT claims that 80 new cargo aircraft are to be built by 2024. This seems to be a completely unrealistic statement, considering the status of the Russian economy, in the light of the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation due to the Ukrainian crisis.

As our analysis shows, the Russian strategic aviation still has a deterrence potential. However, the West, throughout the last few decades, has been preparing itself for irregular conflicts, such as the Afghan war. As we can see – this can be, currently, considered to be a mistake. Thus we may expect that NATO would revise and change its military strategy, in order to tailor it to a conventional conflict – we have certainly entered a new phase of a sort-of Cold War 2.0 – since even though Russia faces financial problems (due to the Western control placed over the oil prices, and currency exchange rate between Russian Ruble and US Dollar), it is still involved in relevant arms development programs.

Image credit: Pavel Adzhigildaev/Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Swedish Spyplane “caught” flying off Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast

A Swedish Air Force Gulfstream IVSP Electronic Intelligence plane could be tracked as it flew in the airspace off Kaliningrad Oblast, where some of the most active Russian bases in the Baltic region are located.

The Swedish Air Force operates a pair of S102B Korpen, modified Gulfstream IVSP aircraft used to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) missions. These aircraft are equipped with sensors capable to eavesdrop, collect and analyse enemy electronic emissions.

Korpet jets conduct routine surveillance missions over the Baltic Sea, flying high and fast in international airspace close to the area of interest.

As we reported last month, the Swedish spyplanes are almost always intercepted by Russian armed fighter jets on Quick Reaction Alert at the Russian airbase in the Kaliningrad exclave; even if this is pretty routine stuff, the Russian Su-27 Flankers have become a bit too aggressive as proved by the incident occurred on Jul. 16, when a Russian Air Force interceptor flew as close as 10,7 meters of the intelligence gathering aircraft.

Anyway, unlike Russian bombers and spyplanes, that frequently operate with their transponders turned off, posing a threat to civilian traffic of northern Europe, the Swedish Gulfstream IV have their transponders turned on and regularly provide updates on their position to the relevant civilian air traffic control agencies along their route.

This means that they can even be monitored during their missions, as happened on Friday Nov. 21, when one the two Korpens could be tracked thanks to the ADS-B using Planefinder.net as it flew some “racetracks” over the Baltic Sea.

Noteworthy, the aircraft operated between Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast, the latter, with its Russian air bases, being most probably one of the targets of the spyplane.

We have frequently highlighted that Russian Air Force spyplanes regularly skirt foreign airspaces during missions aimed at gathering intelligence on NATO and non-NATO countries. The Swedish activity off Kaliningrad Oblast proves that, although on a smaller scale, other air arms do the same on Russia.

Top image: Planefinder.net screenshot

H/T to @FMCNL for the heads-up

 

Russia to base Mig-31 Foxhound fighters at Arctic airbase in renewed sign of pivot to the North Pole

Russia is moving fighters (and bombers) towards the North Pole.

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.

Indeed, according to RIA Novosti, reconstruction of the airport located in the Sakha Republic, will begin in 2015, with the first aircraft to be based there, along with tactical aircraft, by 2017.

Noteworthy, the Mig-31s will also be based at Anadyr, an airbase on Russia’s northeastern coast facing Alaska.

In July four Russian Sukhoi Su-34 bombers have reached the North Pole refueling twice during the 20-hr mission, covering a total distance of more than 50,000 km in three days.

Previously Mig-31 Foxhound interceptors had already operated at the latitude of 82nd degree, showing the capability to intercept targets around the North Pole.

Image credit: Wiki