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MiG-31BM (Bolshaya Modernizatsiya - Big Modernization)

The MiG-31BM is a two-seat supersonic long-distance interceptor aircraft developed by the Russian aircraft corporation MiG. It features upgraded avionics, a 320 km detection range and a strike radius of 280 km. The plane’s multimode radar can detect up to 24 targets simultaneously, engaging up to eight at the same time. The Mig-31 Foxhound, which first flew in 1975, is a substantially improved derivative of the Mig-25 Foxbat, first flown in 1964.

Present- day requirements for the aircraft multifunctional capability and its high flight performance have been implemented in MiG-31BM long-range strategic attack fighter. In the air-to-air operating mode, this fighter can simultaneously intercept up to 24 targets and engage any eight of them: from low-altitude cruise missiles to hypersonic aircraft. Moreover, owing to the unique properties of the airborne radar and a broad variety of air-to-air weapons, the MiG-31BM can destroy targets far from its home airfield. In the air-to-surface operating mode, the fighter can be used for mapping the terrain and attacking ground and waterborne targets by using a wide range of guided missiles, equipped with various homing systems, and precision-guided bombs.

Under the conditions for sharp reduction in the state financing, when the mass purchases of the new aircraft MiG-31M became practically impossible, in 1997 began work on the modernization of fighter-interceptor MiG-31B into the multipurpose aircraft MiG-31BM, that has considerably increased combat capabilities. The modernized interceptor also features unique air-to-air missiles capable of hitting targets at ranges exceeding 200 kilometers (125 miles), including aircraft with stealth capabilities, cruise missiles, and supersonic aircraft. The Mig-31Bm is equipped with an armament control system, modernized with the use of a technical capabilities developed during the work on the creation of "Barrier- M" created for the aircraft MiG-31M. If earlier the aircraft of this family were classified only as long-range fighter-interceptors, then new MiG became a multipurpose aircraft, which carried high-precision weapon for destruction both of air, and ground targets. Due to the modernization [BREO] and the armament the effectiveness MiG-31BM in comparison with MiG-31 grew by a factor 2,6.

On January 12, 1999, simultaneously with the showing "mysterious" MFI, MiG for the first time rolled out the MiG-31BM for public review. The complex "Barrier- M" on the MiG-31BM is capable of detecting standard aerial targets at the almost double the range of previous radars on the aircraft. The range of detection of the aerial targets of class "fighter" is brought to 320 km. In the course of tests was demonstrated the possibility of the destruction of enemy aircraft in long range rocket battle at distance on the order of 280 km, which was at present inaccessible to foreign fighters. For comparison, the best American interceptor, the Northrop-Grumman F-14D Tomcat, was capable to strike aerial targets at the distance not more than 180 km. The MiG-31BM onboard radar complex was capable to simultaneously accompany to 10 aerial targets, 6 of which can be simultaneously attacked by R-33[s] or R-37 rockets (the latter - to the distance to 280 km). It achieved the possibility of the interception of targets which fly with speed of mach 6, and other characteristics of the complex were also improved.

Represented on the display at Zhukovskiy the MiG-31BM carried on conformal suspension units four long-range rockets of the type R-33[s] of with radar guidance under the fuselage, and one antiradar X-31[p], suspended under the left console. Also preserved in the composition of the complex of armament and powerful rockets of the type R-40[Td], which were reached the MiG-31 by the inheritance from the interceptor MiG-25P.

The modernized versions of aircraft can be equipped with antiradar missiles X-31[p], X-25[Mp] or X-25[MPu] (to six units), antiship missiles X-31[a] (to six), withair-surface rockets X-59 and X-29[t] (to three) or X -59[m] (to two units), to six guided aircraft bombs KAB-1500 or to eight KAB-500 with television or laser guidance. The maximum mass of combat load is 9000 kg.

Onboard equipment of aircraft MiG-31BM provides the possibility of effective interaction with the antiaircraft missile systems PVO (Air Defense). Besides fight with the air and ground targets this aircraft can be used, also, as the unique airborne command post, which coordinates the actions of the fighters of other types, equipped with less powerful radars. Equipment on the MiG-31BM ensures very "exotic" scenarios of the combat employment of fighters. Thus, interceptor can direct at the aerial targets of rocket, ignored by other fighters, which close with the enemy to the distance of rocket range in a regime of radar silence. In a number of combat situations a similar tactics can substantially increase the effectiveness of the attacking group.

The MiG-31BM it is at present the only in the world production aircraft capable of effectively fight with the unobtrusive and low-altitude cruise missiles of the type OF ALCM or Tomahawk. It is capable of striking similar targets from the first approach. As Russian specialists consider, if Iraq in the course of operation Desert Fox in the winter 1998-99 years had available aircraft MiG-31, not more than 10% American and English cruise missiles would have reached their targets in the territory of Iraq.

In November 2006 it was reported that MiG had successfully conducted test flights of a modernized MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor equipped with improved engines and electronics. Russia planned to modernize its whole fleet of MiG-31 interceptors, which had been in service for 25 years, and extend their service life with the air force until 2015.

The interceptor's unique maneuverability and combat characteristics are largely based on the capabilities of a modernized engine developed by Russian designers. The interceptor is equipped with two D-30F6 turbofan two-shaft engines mde by Perm Engine Company, with a common afterburner and variable supersonic nozzle, which allow the aircraft to fly at supersonic speeds of up to Mach 2.83.

Fighters MiG-31BM from the center of combat employment, together with other aircraft, in 1998 participated in the scientific-tactical studies, where in the course of one departure, which was being accompanied by several by inflight refuelings, each machine solved number of different combat problems.

Initially, the firm Mikoyan, because of the small chance to receive orders for the aircraft of the Air Force, proposed its own export option - MiG-31FE - to China and India. A modernised aircraft called the MiG-31FE, which resembes the MiG-31BM, was offered for export by Mikoyan as early as 1995. An unusual and interesting possibility offered in conjunction with the MiG-31FE is an armament consisting of two very long-range missiles capable of hitting ballistic missile warheads flying at altitudes up to 200 km at speeds up to Mach 20. This weapon system would probably be developed from experiences with the MiG-31D satellite-interceptor of the late 1980s.

But now according to main command VVS, practically all Russian MiG-31s will be modified into the version MiG-31BM. Fighters of this type, the possessing unique combat possibilities, it is planned to preserve in the combat system past 2010.

Russian Air Force Commander Vladimir Mikhailov said "Modernization of the fleet of MiG-31 interceptors will significantly increase the combat capability of air defenses, especially over remote areas of Northern Russia, Siberia and the Far East, where air defense contingents have been sharply reduced since the 1990s..." About 500 MiG-31s had been produced since serial production began in 1978, approximately 370 of which remained in service with the Russian Air Force as of mid-2006.

Kazakhstan inherited around 30 MiG-31 Foxhounds after the break up of the Soviet Union. Some of these aircraft remain in operational service. In late 2007 the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RSK-MiG) signed a $60 million contract with the Kazakh air force, through Rosoboronexport, to upgrade 10 of its MiG-31 'Foxhound-A' fighters to MiG-31BM configuration. This included: a new avionics architecture with a new main-mission computer; HOTAS (hands-on-throttle-and-stick) controls; colour multifunction displays in the cockpit; and a thorough upgrade of the NIIP Zaslon radar. The resulting configuration offered multirole capability - making it possible to use the R-77/RVV-AE (AA-12 'Adder') active-homing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile - and a full range of air-to-surface weaponry. Also included in the deal were spares and support for the Kazakh MiG-29 'Fulcrum' fleet, as well as training aids and simulators. Another 10 MiG-31 upgrades were planned for 2008.

In March 2008 the Lipetsk Aviation Center of RFAF at Savasleika Air Base got the first two modernized fighters Mig-31BM. The majority of MiG-31s will be modernized in the MiG-31BM. This cleared the way for combat capabilities testing of this new Foxhound, along with the training of pilots and technicians, according to Air Force officials.

The Russian Air Force will receive over 60 modernized MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor aircraft by 2020, the Defense Ministry said in January 2012. A modernization contract was signed by the ministry and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation in December 2011. “We are planning to upgrade more than 60 MiG-31 interceptors to the MiG-31BM version by 2020,” Air Force spokesman Vladimir Drik said. Relatively few MiG-31s have been modernized to the MiG-31BM version since the heavy interceptor entered service with the Russian Air Force in 1982.

The plant’s general director, Alexander Karezin, reported that the company handed over 15 in 2012, and the plant “holds a firm order for about sixty MiG-31BMs due for delivery in 2011-2018.” Russian air force commander Gen. Victor Bondarev has said the MiG-31 development potential is “almost exhausted” and the basic platform is “already outdated,” making it better to focus the funds available to national defense projects on development of newer Sukhoi jets.

Modernized MiG-31BM interceptor aircraft have started combat alert duty at an airbase in Tver Region in western Russia, with the full modernization of the unit to be completed by the end of the year, a military spokesperson said 08 April 2013. “In Tver region two modernized Mig-31BM interceptors have started their combat alert duty in the Western Military District,” said Col. Oleg Kochetkov, the head of the district’s press service, adding that the aircraft were delivered at the end of last year. “By the end of 2014, the Khotilovo MiG-31 squadron will be fully re-equipped with the newer modification of the interceptors,” the colonel said. The air fleet upgrades are part of a series of modernization efforts by the Russian Defense Ministry. In 2014, the military received 18 such aircraft.

The Russian army will receive more than 130 upgraded MiG-31B interceptor fighters, and the first 24 aircraft have already been delivered to the troops, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters on 09 APril 2015. "After modernization of MiG-31 fighters we expect to get more than 130 such aircraft in the troops. They will have excellent flight technical characteristics," Borisov said. According to him, 12-13 fighters will undergo modernization each year.

The first contract on the MiG-31 modernization that was signed in 2011 envisages the supply to Russia’s Air Force of more than 50 modernized aircraft until 2019. In autumn 2014, an additional contract was concluded also on more than 50 MiG-31BM fighters. They are to be delivered to the army by the end of 2018.

The military official also said that the life cycle of upgraded MiG-31BM interceptors may be prolonged to 50 years. "In fact a new life can be breathed into this plane. Already now it is clear that after upgrade it can have an active service life and remain on duty for 40-45 years. But even that is not the limit. I believe that ways of extending its life cycle to 50 years will be considered," Borisov said.

The deputy minister said that the upgraded fighters will have their avionics and radar partly replaced, the fuselage and landing gear units will be almost fully disassembled. According to Borisov, the MiG-31 modernization "will extend its service life instead of restoring its manufacturing." The deputy defense minister said that the issue of the resumption of the interceptors’ manufacturing has been intensively debated. "But in the current economic situation this is inexpedient and unprofitable," he said.

Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force Viktor Bondarev said previously that the military planned to use the MiG-31 jet until 2030. He proposed in 2013 to develop a warplane to replace the interceptor before the end of the current state armaments program.

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Page last modified: 10-04-2019 12:06:26 ZULU