15 photos of the MiG-31, the Russian fighter jet that can chase away SR-71 Blackbirds

The CEO of the Russia’s Mikoyan aircraft company recently made some wild claims about the MiG-41 — the successor to the MiG-31 — saying it would fly in space, reach speeds of 2,800 mph, carry lasers, and more.

Despite such outlandish predictions, the MiG-41, if it’s actually made, will not be ready for deployment until around 2035 to 2040, which means the MiG-31 will be Russia’s main interceptor well into the 2030s.

And while these predictions are rather fanciful, they’re not completely impossible, given the MiG-31s impressive capabilities.

Take a look at what the MiG-31 can do.

The MiG-31, which NATO calls Foxhound, made its first flight in 1975 and was the MiG-25s successor.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: Globalsecurity.org.

As an interceptor, the Foxhound was not made for dog fights, but instead for defending Russia's borders from enemy bombers, able to swoop in quickly and hit targets before jetting out.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: Globalsecurity.org and The National Interest.

Unlike the MiG-25, it has a backseat for the Weapons Systems Officer to operate the Zaslon radar.

Russian Ministry of Defense

The Zaslon S-800 Passive Electronically Scanned Array radar was made to track low flying bombers, and originally had a range of 125 miles, which Russia has since upgraded multiple times.

Source: The National Interest.

The MiG-31 needs about 3,900 feet to take off.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: Globalsecurity.org.

It has two Tumanski R-15BD-300 turbojets, which can bring the Foxhound to nearly 34,000 feet in 8 minutes. Below is a shot of the engine's afterburners in action.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: Globalsecurity.org.

This is the MiG-31BM, the newest MiG-31 variant, which features a Zaslon-M radar with a range of nearly 200 miles, longer range air-to-air missiles, like the R-33S, and more.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: Globalsecurity.org.

The MiG-31 can reach 33,800 feet in 8 minutes, and even hit altitudes of 67,500 feet.

Russian Ministry of Defense

The second layer of the atmosphere, the stratosphere, starts at 59,000 feet.

Source: Globalsecurity.org.

It has a top speed of Mach 3, and can hit Mach 1.23 at low altitudes.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: The National Interest.

This is why it's been dubbed a 'Mach 3 Monster' by The National Interest.

Russian Ministry of Defense

There have been multiple accounts of MiG-31 fighters chasing away SR-71s, the legendary high-altitude US spy plane.

Russian Ministry of Defense

A Russian pilot claimed he was able to lock his missiles onto an SR-71 during one incident, and 6 Foxhounds reportedly cornered a Blackbird in another.

Source: The National Interest and The Aviationist.

The Foxhound's main armament is the R-33 long-range missile, which is similar to the F-14s AIM-51 Phoenix missile, and it can lock onto 4 different targets at once.

Russian Ministry of Defense

It can hold 4 of the R-33 long-range missiles, and 2 R-40TD-1 medium range missiles and 4 R-60MK short range missiles. It also has a 9-A-768 23-mm gun.

Source: The National Interest and Globalsecurity.org.

The Mig-31DZ, a variant released in 1989, was the first MiG-31 able to refuel in midair.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: The National Interest.

The Foxhound needs about 2,600 feet to land.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: Globalsecurity.org.

Moscow currently has about 252 MiG-31s, and plans to make 100 MiG-31BMs and MiG-31BSMs by 2020.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: The National Interest.

And while Mikoyen has plans for a MiG-31 successor, the MiG-41, the Foxhound will continue flying until at least 2030.

Russian Ministry of Defense

Source: The National Interest.

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