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SEPTEMBER 2020

Russia’s MiG-31 Interceptors To Potentially Be Modified And Last 3,000 Flight Hours More

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Russia's MiG-31 Interceptors To Potentially Be Modified And Last 3,000 Flight Hours More

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The MiG-31 fighter jet is to get modified and received an extended service life by several thousand flight hours, according to Russian outlet Izvestia.

This will allow “the most powerful interceptor” in the world to be used for at least another ten years.

It can destroy any aerial targets – from drones and cruise missiles to hypersonic aircraft.

It is also about to be equipped with the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile.

Izvestia cited experts who believe that the resource of the titanium airframe of the aircraft is practically unlimited, and thanks to the modernization, the aircraft will be relevant for a long time.

The issue of extending the service life of the MiG-31 supersonic interceptors is being studied, but the final decision will only be made based on the results of research and development work (R&D), according to the unnamed sources.

The R&D work is already undergoing, and according to the schedule of the work, the project would be carried out in two stages.

By the end of 2021 trials are planned to confirm whether the airframe can last an approximate 3,000 more flight hours.

In 2022 the plan is to increase that duration to 3,500 hours, and the end of the R&D stage is expected to take place in August 2022.

In 2018, the UEC-Perm Engines company announced that it was ready to quickly resume the production of key components and assemblies of the unique D-30F6 engines installed on the MiG-31.

This is necessary to maintain the combat readiness of the aircraft after the increase in service life.

According to the company, the available stocks of aircraft engines and repair kits for them are sufficient to operate the MiG-31 in the Aerospace Forces for another 30-40 years.

Such a task is quite solvable, according to the honored test pilot, Hero of Russia Igor Malikov.

“Most likely, the chassis itself will not be changed. It is made of titanium, and this metal has an almost unlimited resource. It is possible that some parts and devices will be replaced with more durable ones. The MiG-31BM is a very good aircraft that will remain relevant for a long time. It is necessary to cover, first of all, the northern borders, and the rest too. This modification is equipped with new avionics, electronic equipment and radar,” Malikov said.

Discussions on extending the life of the MiG-31 have been taking place since at least 2013, when the Russian parliament considered whether to invest in developing a new fighter jet, or extending the life of the MiG-31.

Then the MPs recommended that the government stop recycling and keep the existing fleet of warplanes until a full replacement appears.

The improved MiG-31BM received an updated radar. Now the fighter is able to detect the enemy at a distance of up to 320 km and destroy them with long-range missiles at a distance of 280 km. The new weapon control system made it possible to equip the vehicle with more modern ammunition.

In 2018, the MiG Corporation completed the creation of a special modification of the MiG-31K.

Its premiere feature is that it is equippable with the hypersonic aeroballistic missiles “Kinzhal” for attacking ground targets. It also received new on-board equipment, an increased fuel supply, and special communications equipment.

Since 2018, ten MiG-31Ks have been on experimental combat duty in the southern part of Russia. The exercises demonstrated in practice the possibility of hitting targets with the “Kinzhal” at a distance of at least 800 km. High speed and the ability to maneuver on the trajectory make the hypersonic munition allegedly invulnerable to modern air defense and missile defense systems.

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