Many observers believe that the heyday of Mikoyan has ended with the arrival of the MiG-31, an interceptor that is still extremely fearsome to this day
The MiG-31, known by the NATO designation Foxhound, had its first flight in 1975. The aircraft has a length of 21.62m, a maximum take-off weight of 46.2 tons, equivalent to a T-90A tank. The heavy weight is due to the fact that the fuselage is reinforced so that it can withstand extreme speeds without tearing the fuselage, and many places are reinforced with steel and titanium.
It can be said that the sky of Russia is being protected by MiG-31. It can intercept any target, from cruise missiles to satellites, in all weather conditions, day and night, and at any speed. Military aviation analysts believe that, in terms of interception capabilities, there is no other fighter that can compete with Russia’s MiG-31 interceptor in the next 10-15 years. A small group of MiG-31s can monitor a large area of airspace. The strength of the MiG-31 is the Zaslon S-800 Radar with a wide range, combined with two engines with huge thrust.
The MiG-31 is the world’s first fighter equipped with a passive electronically scanned array radar, the Zaslon S-800. The maximum range of this radar for combat aircraft-sized targets is approximately 200 km, it can track 10 targets at the same time and attack 4 of them with missiles. The MiG-31’s phased array radar antenna allows the beam to be shifted while the antenna is fixed, as well as to generate the amount of radiation needed to track multiple targets simultaneously.
It is reported that Russia has upgraded the radar of the MiG-31 to detect up to 24 targets at a range of 320km. The onboard computer system allows pilots to select the most dangerous targets, and launch long-range air-to-air missiles to destroy them. The MiG-31 Foxhound has two large engines, with air intakes located under the wings. The main wings are high-mounted, while the empanage is 2 vertical tail fins and two horizontal planes.
Two Soloviev D-30F6 afterburning turbofan engines with 152 kN thrust with afterburner, allowing the Mig-31 to reach a top speed of Mach 2.83. However, pilots are advised not to fly at this speed because it can damage the engines. The MiG-31 can reach a range of 3,000 km with extra fuel tanks.
Weapons of the MiG-31 are four R-33 long-range missiles with a range of 200km, two R-40 medium-range missiles with a range of 60km, four R-60 short-range missiles with a range of 8km, and a 23mm GSh-6-23M rotary cannon. The upgraded MiG-31 can also carry six R-37 long-range missiles with a maximum range of 300 km and a maximum speed of Mach 6. There are also two short-range R-73 missiles with a range of 40 km, and supersonic speeds up to Mach 2.5. In particular, with the introduction of the super missile Kh-47, nicknamed “Dagger”, compatible with the MiG-31BM version, it is capable of penetrating all enemy defenses. It is known that the Kh-47 can reach a speed of Mach 10 and a range of more than 2,000 km.