Russia Debates Restart of MiG-31 Production

Discussion in 'Europe and Russia' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, May 12, 2013.

  1. AVERAGE INDIAN

    AVERAGE INDIAN EXORCIST Senior Member

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    A debate has unfolded in Russia over whether to invest further in the MiG-31 series or to concentrate funding on the Sukhoi Su-35. United Aircraft’s Sokol factory in Nizhny Novgorod continues to deliver MiG-31BM multirole aircraft modified from MiG-31 interceptors built earlier. The plant’s general director, Alexander Karezin, reported that the company handed over 15 last year, and the plant “holds a firm order for about sixty MiG-31BMs due for delivery in 2011-2018.” He added, “This is a considerable contribution to the national defense of the country.”

    But Russian air force commander Gen. Victor Bondarev said the MiG-31 development potential is “almost exhausted” and the basic platform is “already outdated,” making it better to focus the funds available to national defense projects on development of newer Sukhoi jets.

    The Russian parliament held hearings last month on whether to resume production of the MiG-31. Most speakers were in favor. They said that the current Russian space and air defense system (VKO)–mainly MiG-31s and Su-35s and S-300/S-400 surface-to-air missile systems–is believed capable of intercepting only 60- to 65 percent of the weapons that NATO might use in an imaginary strike on the country. Deeming this to be “insufficient,” the parliamentarians are urging the government to provide extra funds to increase the fleet of interceptors and improve radar coverage, which currently covers only 31 percent of the vast Russian territory at low altitude and 51 percent at high altitude, they said. They called for a mix of new-build Su-35Ss and MiG-31BMs. Parliamentary research into the issue revealed that “quite a few” stored MiG-31s (from an original production run of 500) can be restored to flying condition, while new production could be restarted at Sokol at a cost of Rouble 25 billion ($800 million). No new MiG-31s have been produced in the last 10 years, but several partially built airframes were completed for Kazakhstan. Eight more were destined for Syria but remain incomplete after cancelation of the order.

    The MiG-31 first flew in 1976. The MiG-31M, with improved maneuverability through use of a reworked flight control system, followed in 1985. The MiG-31D appeared in 1987 and demonstrated its ability to fly at Mach 2.83 with a load of six to ten R-37 missiles and to have a typical intercept mission lasting for 3.5 hours. During a trial in 1994 a developmental MiG-31 destroyed a low-flying target at a distance of 300 km (186 miles). The current MiG-31BM version is a multirole aircraft able to defeat aerial and low-orbit space targets, and strike ground and sea-going targets with precision guided munitions.

    Russia Debates Restart of MiG-31 Production | Aviation International News
     
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  3. Keshav Murali

    Keshav Murali Back to studies :( Senior Member

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    If I remember correctly, the Su-35 is superior to the MiG-31BM in all aspects except size and fuel efficiency. Why would Russian Air Force go for MiG-31 when they already have a better albeit larger aircraft. Also, weren't they going to induct MiG-35 to complement their Flankers. :notsure:

    Of course MiG-31 will demonstrate better high altitude performance and better escorting capabilities and also more stable performance with varying payloads.

    Sukhoi will have better, longer lasting airframe and better low-altitude and dog-fight performance with higher payloads.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  4. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

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    The Mig-25 at 42-tons weighed as much as any MBT in the world but it did what no MBT could ever do, that is to fly and fly faster than even any fighter jet in it class. Although not built for high G combat it served as an fantastic platform for reconnaissance and intercepting. It was totally unmatched in it field and one of the few fighters that ever caught up to an SR-71 black bird while carrying weapons. The Mig-31 although much different from the Mig-25 in terms of rolls and features has a huge fan base with in the Russian AF, it clearly plays a roll beyond the cold war days of snooping as an interceptor and radar jammer.
     
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  5. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Mig-31 is a great plane more of an airship,but then if SU-35s can carry long range missiles such as R-37 then its not economically feasible to restart production.

    Could be they planned a stealth Mig-31 then it would be great. 4 of these MIG-31 can cover whole 800sq km of territory :)
     
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  6. binayak95

    binayak95 Regular Member

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    The Mig-25 holds world fighter speed record of Mach 3.2 over Syria. I guess the reason behind Russia pushing for a mix of Mig-31 and Su-35s is that the Mig-31 can do fast interception of US B-2s and B-1B bombers and Su-35s can take out any escorting F-15/16. The Mig-31 will come at Mach 2.5+ fire R-77s and then make a run for it at Mach 2.8 while Sukhois deal with escorts. Add to this combo the T-50 and the Russians have a very good air protection.
     
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  7. binayak95

    binayak95 Regular Member

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    A great article on the MIG-25
    Foxhound vs Blackbird: How the MiGs reclaimed the skies | Russia & India Report

    From its first flight in 1972 to its retirement in 1989, the SR-71 Blackbird was the highest flying and fastest air breathing aircraft in operation. Flying at Mach 3.3 (4042 kph) the CIA-operated SR-71 initially flew unchallenged over trouble spots such as Vietnam and the Middle East, and also conducted highly provocative flights close to the Soviet Union’s borders, spying on submarine activity in the Arctic seas.
    Although the Mach 3.2 MiG-25 Foxbat could in theory have shot it down with its air to air missiles, in reality the Foxbat could not sustain a Mach 3 chase for long.
    Early in the year 1982 the Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau started deliveries of a new combat aircraft to the Protivo Vozdushnoy Oborony or PVO – the Air Defence Forces of the Soviet Union. This new aircraft was the multi-functional MiG-31– an airborne weapons platform with the principal task of hunting down US Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombers and stealthy, low flying air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs). According to the authoritative defence website, Air Power Australia, the Foxhound’s unique ability for sustaining supersonic cruise up to 722 km, increasing to 2200 km with inflight refuelling, “is a capability with no equivalent in the West”.
    Enter the Foxhound

    In September 1983, a Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 was shot down by a Sukhoi-15 after the airliner intruded deep into Soviet air space. What remained unknown to the world was the night of the incident had been a particularly tense time for Soviet air defence forces, as the SR-71 was conducting a spy flight in coordination with other American aircraft and a Big Bird spy satellite.
    German aviation journalist Stefan Buttner has given a gripping account of what happened next, in the October 2010 issue of the magazine Combat Aircraft: “Following the event, a special-purpose group comprising four MiG-31s under the command of Vladimir Ivlev, was despatched to Sokol Air Base in Sakhalin later that month.
    “The group's main task was to combat incursions by the SR-71. With Moscow's authorisation the four crews set up demonstrations sorties with the new aircraft, using their radar to prevent the Blackbird from flying along the Soviet border.
    "The crew would fly out on an intercept course to close with the target, and then switch the radar to radiation mode and report to their ground controllers when they had detected the target at around 300-320 km. They would then continue to close with the target, and at 120-150 km target lock-on would be achieved, whereupon the crew would report readiness to attack."
    At this point the SR-71's missile approach warning system would trigger; the crew would find themselves the hunted, and unable to hold their nerve, there was no course of action for them other than to engage afterburner and run for home.
    Arctic patrol

    Prior to that, says Buttner, a squadron in Monchegorsk Air Base near the Arctic port of Murmansk had been equipped with the MiG-31, at the end of April 1983 and the first MiG-31 sortie scrambled against an SR-71 on the following day. The Monchegorsk MiGs were assigned the task of intercepting the SR-71s flying in from the UK’s Mildenhall Air Base.
    Captain Mikhail Myagkiy was among the elite fighter pilots chosen to fly these new MiGs. Over a period of four years, Myagkiy alone executed 14 successful intercepts of the SR-71 near the borders of the Soviet Union in the far north.
    The spy plane usually appeared from the direction of Norway, tearing in toward the White Sea and then north toward Novaya Zemlya before turning around on a reverse course to the west over the Arctic Ocean.
    It must be mentioned that the missile defence forces possessed the capability to successfully destroy the 'intruder'. In an interview to Russian aviation expert Valery Romanenko for Paul Crickmore’s gripping book Lockheed Blackbird: Beyond The Secret Missions, Myagkiy says Soviet counter-intelligence secretly hoped the American plane would cross the borders. For, that would have given them the perfect excuse to shoot it down with SAMs.
    Precision attack

    Myagkiy says intercepting a superfast aircraft like the SR-71 required precisely coordinated actions. “The scheme for intercepting the SR-71 was computed down to the last second, and the MiGs had to launch exactly 16 minutes after the initial alert. During this period of time the ground vectoring station determined what route the SR-71 was following,” he says.
    On his eighth intercept, on January 31, 1986, here’s what happened: “They alerted us for an intercept at 11.00. They sounded the alarm with a shrill bell and then confirmed it with a loudspeaker. The appearance of an SR-71 was always accompanied by nervousness. Everyone began to talk in frenzied voices, to scurry about, and react to the situation with excessive emotion.”
    Taking off with Aleksey Parshin, his Weapons Service Officer, their aircraft broke the sound barrier at 26,000 ft. At 52,000 ft, the MiG achieved infrared lock on the SR-71 and a target indicator showed the distance – 120 km – in the head up display. The aircraft’s computer automatically fed the data to the missiles, and four green triangles appeared on the target illuminated in the head-up display. A computerised female voice named Rita inside Myagkiy’s earphones announced – “Attack”.
    At 65,676 ft the computer announced the “Attack” order again. The Blackbird was flying a mere 8000 ft above him and Myagkiy had a visual sighting of the aircraft. “Had the spy plane violated Soviet airspace, a live missile launch would have been carried out. There was practically no chance the aircraft could avoid an R-33 missile,” says Myagkiy.
    The intercepts had their intended effect. The SR-71’s missions were now planned farther from Soviet airspace because of the MiG threat. Renowned film maker Peter Ustinov also confirms this outcome in his documentary Wings Over Russia.
    Swedish view
    Swedish air defence had a vantage view of these aerial manoeuvres. On their radar screens they could see the much older but faster MiG-25 screaming in towards the Blackbird. Shortly after the MiG-31s had harried the SR-71 in the Arctic area, a lone MiG-25 Foxbat stationed at Finow-Eberswalde in the former GDR would intercept it over the Baltic. The Swedes observed the SR-71 would always fly at 72,000 ft and the MiG-25 would reach 63,000 ft before completing its stern attack 2.9 km behind the Blackbird. “We were always impressed by this precision, it was always 63,000 ft and 2.9 km behind the SR-71," a retired Swedish Air Force flight controller told Crickmore.
    Raising the stakes

    However, the Soviet brass weren’t satisfied. They wanted the SR-71 out of the skies entirely. By now, the success achieved by MiGs had given a boost to the Foxhound programme. One by one the forward air bases of the country were beefed up with the new fighter. In October 1986, MiG-31s were despatched to the Komsomol'skii Air Base. In 1985, Archangel and Kamchatka got upgraded to the MiG-31. Yugorskii Peninsula in the White Sea and Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan got theirs in 1986.
    The Soviets now raised the stakes. On June 3, 1986 they sent up not one but six MiG-31s to intercept the SR-71 over the Barents Sea. The six Foxhounds performed a co-ordinated intercept that would have subjected the SR-71 to an all-angle AAM attack.
    The intense pressure paid off – the SR-71 never came close to Soviet borders after that incident. Just three years later the spooks at the CIA cancelled the SR-71 programme (although it was reactivated briefly in other theatres).

    Satellites vs SR-71

    The premature retirement of the SR-71 seems mysterious but not if you look at the MiG-31’s record against it. However, Western military commentators have said the SR-71 became redundant after the arrival of powerful spy satellites. This argument has no legs. Satellites have orbital limitations and it may take up to 24 hours to position a satellite over a certain area, whereas spy planes can be brought into play quickly and repeatedly.
    Also, strange as it sounds, spy planes are stealthier than satellites as orbital information is freely available on the internet so the enemy can hide assets when they know the satellite is overhead.
    Indeed, the limitations of satellites were exposed when the U2 was brought out of retirement to operate over Iraq.
    Ageless wonder

    Air Power Australia says given the Foxhound’s principal role was the hunting down of SAC bombers and ALCMs, it is questionable whether the aircraft is relevant in a radically changed political environment.
    But until the new Russian fifth generation PAK-FA becomes available, the MiG-31, with its massive radar and unique ability to engage six enemy aircraft, is the perfect solution to a uniquely Russian problem – covering its vast air space with limited aircraft.
    In fact, after a major upgrade the MiG-31 is even more potent today than it was 30 years ago. It is a measure of its mystique that the MiG-31 was the inspiration behind the Cold War novel Firefox, which was later made into a hit motion picture of the same name starring Clint Eastwood – another ageless wonder.
     
  8. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Mig-31 has 14.5 tonnes of fuel vs Su-35s 11.5 tonnes. Has a 1400mm radar array vs 900mm array on Su-35. Mig-31 can go supersonic at Mach 2.2 for 750Km. Something Su-35 cannot.

    If they are talking about building more Mig-31s, that would mean modernized engines + better fuel economy. To top it off, Mig will make some profits. So industrial help included in the package.

    Mig-31 isn't an air superiority fighter, it is an interceptor with poor maneuverability compared to Su-35.

    The aircraft can be packed with 6 LRAAM R-37s with a range of 300Km that can be used to take out AWACS and bombers. It can even track and engage Tomahawk missiles at long ranges and with the right modification, it can be used against theatre BMs too.
     
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  9. DivineHeretic

    DivineHeretic Senior Member Senior Member

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    Imagine a 1400mm AESA radar installed in this monster. Add to that a heavy duty AESA based EW attack suite, and we could have the Growler look like a kitten infront of this Giant.

    It could take over as AWE&C platform, capable of deployment to distant sites in a flash. It could provide EW escort for offensive strikes or Jamming missions (la JSTAR) in support of special forces missions and still so much more. Not to forget it could fly into Pak airspace and conduct recon while staying above their SAM range.

    Of course it would need a much improved engine, but it might be a very lethal addition for us as well.

    Oh my, I guess I'm dreaming too much.
     
  10. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    It's sad that these facts are never shown on Discovery/History channels

    Sent from my GT-N8000 using Tapatalk HD
     
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  11. binayak95

    binayak95 Regular Member

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    Discovery/History Channels are biased towards the west. to them, Russia India do not exist
     
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  12. binayak95

    binayak95 Regular Member

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    Alright, the billion dollar question, should we get the Mig-31 Foxhound with AESA and maybe the AL-41F Supercruise engienes as a replacement for the old Mig-25 that the IAF decommissioned for lack of spares??
     
  13. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Viewers should let their preferences be known to operators of those channels. They are probably not reading DFI.

    E.g., Contact Us | A+E Networks
     
  14. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    MIG-25 was decommisioned because Russia supposedly had done away with the blueprints and there was no spare parts add to that India is moving to satellites.
     
  15. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    What this bird can do, spy satellites cannot.
     
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  16. Keshav Murali

    Keshav Murali Back to studies :( Senior Member

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    Interceptors hold more fuel than Air Superiority fighters? I didn't know till now. Thanks p2. But the 1400 mm AESA. :shocked: Is that a result of the MiG-31's evolution from MiG-25R? Is MiG-31 a good choice for Russia? I heard stuff on blogs like "The MiG-31 has poor airframe design. It will wear out quickly"

    Also, the MiG on offer is supposed to be MiG-31BM which is multirole.

    Thanks for replying.

    Edit: Should we buy them?
     
  17. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Agreed but IAF was no longer in a position to service the plane.hence the decommissioned it.
     
  18. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    There is a small correction to be made, the fuel capacity on Mig-31BM is 16 tonnes.

    It has a PESA, not AESA. It is called Zaslon and the new BM upgrades will have the Zaslon-M. It is the first airborne ESA radar. Quite like how the F-22 was the first fighter airborne AESA.

    It depends on the threat. If the USAF decides to move towards subsonic stealthy bombers then the requirement for Mig-31 will lessen considerably.

    Mig could be lobbying for orders instead of an actual VVS requirement.

    It is definitely old and flies in very harsh conditions of high supersonic speeds unlike other aircraft. It is not a poor airframe design, it is merely an old airframe design. But it can be modernized, just like Su-35 was.

    Yeah, it can be used for SEAD.

    We don't have a requirement for this. FGFA can handle our requirement.
     
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  19. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    So in essence, there is scope for a MiG31 in IAF.
     
  20. indian_sukhoi

    indian_sukhoi Regular Member

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    MIG-31 was a whole new different type of Interceptor Aircraft.

    Soviets wanted a Long range Interceptor which is very fast, long range and a powerfull radar to detect missiles and bombers. It was one of the first aircraft doesnt need ground control to intercept its targets.
     
  21. DivineHeretic

    DivineHeretic Senior Member Senior Member

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    It should have, in my opinion atleast. It would allow us to both SEAD and DEAD missions and still remain away from harms way. Not to mention that at 3.2-3.5 times the speed of sound we could pretty much fly it right over Pakistani airspace into Tajikistan in recon missions or to make a political statement.

    I wish we had a similar AC in service right now. After the beheadings, we could've flown right over Kayani's HQ in Rawalpindi or Islamabad. That would've taught them the difference in capability between the two nations

    At 4710 km/hr, it would zip right through the breadth of Pak in less than 5-6 minutes. Even if PAF detects the fighter and scrambles for intercept, assuming a 2 min scrambling warning, the jet would have travelled about 140 km away by the time the Pak fighters take their position.

    It would also mean that PAF wouldn't dare fly their AWE&Cs anywhere even 150-200 km near the Indian Border, and in case they did, it would be very difficult to escape from the MIG.
     
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