Space


USSR/CIS Miniature ASAT

A more conventional ASAT program was also underway in the late 1980's and early 1990's. A specially configured MiG-31 was designed to carry an air-launched missile equipped with a satellite-homing, kinetic-kill warhead (Reference 126). It is possible to assume that MiG-31D it were created within the framework of the program of domestic "star wars" for the destruction of orbital stations and spacecraft of the enemy.

Very similar to the US F-15 air-launched ASAT, successfully tested against a satellite in September, 1985, the USSR/CIS miniature ASAT would have been restricted to satellites in LEO, but it would have considerably greater flexibility for engaging enemy satellites than the Co-orbital ASAT. Perhaps more important would be its ability to attack with virtually no warning, unlike the Co-orbital ASAT.

A pair of specialized MiG-31s [Izdelye 07 "article 07"] were built in 1987 as carriers for an ASAT missile. These two Foxhounds featured triangular "webbed feet" wing endplate fins, like those fitted to some MiG-25 prototypes. These fins provided improved flight stability at high altitudes for missile launches with the suspension on the external pylon of large rocket. The prototypes did not have a rocket launch system [RLS] -- instead, they had a 200-kilogram mass equivalent. The radio-transparent nose fairing was replaced by an all-metal fairing, and a central sliding pylon for the "article" was added. A single large missile was carried under the fuselage. The cannon was deleted to save weight. A special upward-looking radar and associated intercept fire-control system was to be fitted to production machines. The MiG-31D, flying at the height order 17,000 m with a velocity of 3,000 km/h, would zoom to launch the interceptor at the target.

These aircraft were given the designation of "MiG-31D", a designation which is also applied to initial production MiG-31s with refueling probes, as well as to what Greg Goebel terms "a bewildering range of other Foxhound variants, both real and imaginary."

The second prototype MiG-31D, # 072, tested by the pilots OF OKB in Zhukovskiy. The first departure and tests conducted the test pilot A.G. Fastovets. The test program continued several years, but it was stopped in the beginning of the 90s because of the obscure situation with the advent of new rocket.

The rocket is developed by OKB Vympel, which specialize in the creation of air-to-air missiles.

The status of the Russian airlaunched ASAT today is unclear, but Russian officials in 1992 indicated that future space tests were possible. The effort was suspended in the early 1990s and so far few details have been released.

MiG-31A / MiG-31S / Ishim space complex

The MiG-31D was resurrected in the late 1990s as the "MiG-31A" proposal, with the aircraft being used to launch a small satellite payload of up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) into orbit, instead of an ASAT interceptor. The first test launching of this system was planned for 1999-2000, which did not happen. The MiG-31S designator has also been applied to a projected launch vehicle for small space vehicles.

In early 2005 Russia and Kazakhstan were considering a project of launching small satellites into space from the Russian MiG-31 fighter. At a meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana on 23 March 2005, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Danial Akhmetov and director Yuri Solomonov of the Moscow-based Heat Engineering Institute discussed the creation of the Ishim aerospace rocketry system. The Ishim space complex is designed for injecting small non-military spacecraft into the near-earth orbit [the Ishim River is a river running through Kazakhstan and Russia].

The MiG-31 rises to the required altitude with an attached small-size rocket carrying a satellite. Separated from the plane, the rocket, powered by its engine, orbits a spacecraft weighing up to 160 kilograms. The Moscow Thermal Engineering Institute can in a short time design and manufacture the new rocket with a solid-fuel engine, which is a guarantee of its dependability and avoids the use of toxic components. Kazakh Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov instructed the Kazakh Aerospace Committee and the Informatics and Communication Agency to set up a working group for comprehensive feasibility study and realization of the Ishim system.

At present machines 07/1 and 07/2 are located in Kazakhstan. These MiG-31s also serve as the carrier of the hypersonic flying laboratory GLL-EY.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list