15 photos of the MiG-31, the Russian fighter jet that can fire the new Kinzhal hypersonic missile and has chased away SR-71 Blackbirds

Russian Ministry of DefenceA Russian MiG-31 above the clouds.

The CEO of the Russian MiG corporation said in August that the MiG-41 “is not a mythical project” and that work on an experimental design for the fifth-generation interceptor will begin “in the immediate future.”

The same MiG corporation chief executive, Ilya Tarasenko, also made some wild claims about the MiG-41 in September 2017, saying it would fly in space, reach speeds of 2,800 mph, carry lasers, and more.

Despite these predictions, the MiG-41, if it’s even made, would not be ready for deployment until 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 impossible, given the MiG-31’s impressive capabilities.

In fact, the MiG-31 is the first jet to which Russia fitted its newKh-47M2, or Kinzhal, air-launched hypersonic missile that Moscow claims can beat all US air defences.

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

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

Russian Ministry of DefenceSeveral parked Russian MiG-31 fighter jets.

Source: GlobalSecurity.org

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

Russian Ministry of Defence

Sources: GlobalSecurity.org,The National Interest

Unlike the MiG-25, it has a back seat for the weapons systems officer to operate the Zaslon radar.

Russian Ministry of Defence

The Zaslon S-800 Passive Electronically Scanned Array radar was made to track low-flying bombers. It 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 DefenceA Russian MiG-31 preparing for take off.

Source: GlobalSecurity.org

It has two Tumanski R-15BD-300 turbojets, which can bring the Foxhound to nearly 34,000 feet in eight minutes.

Russian Ministry of DefenceHere’s a shot of the engine’s afterburners in action.

Source: GlobalSecurity.org

The MiG-31BM variant below features a Zaslon-M radar. It has a range of nearly 200 miles, longer-range air-to-air missiles like the R-33S, and more.

Russian Ministry of DefenceThe Russian MiG-31BM taking off.

Russia also successfully test fired a Kh-47M2, or Kinzhal, hypersonic missile from the MiG-31BM in March, and is currently fitting the missile to the MiG-31K variant.

Moscow claims that the Kinzhal can hit speeds of up to Mach 10, has a range of 1,200 miles and are basically impossible to detect by modern air defence systems.

While many western analysts remain sceptical of the Kinzhal’s capabilities, the missile appears to be an adaptation of the Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile that flies at hypersonic speeds.

The MiG-31 can also reach 65,000 feet in nearly nine minutes and even hit altitudes of 67,500 feet.

Russian Ministry of DefenceA Russian MiG-31 taking off.

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 Defence

Source: The National Interest

This is why it has been dubbed a “Mach 3 monster.”

Russian Ministry of DefenceA Russian MiG-31 flying above the clouds.

Source: The National Interest

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

Russian Ministry of DefenceA cockpit view of the Russian MiG-31 fighter jet.

A Russian pilot claimed he locked his missiles onto an SR-71 Blackbird during one incident, and six MiG-31 Foxhounds once cornered a Blackbird in another.

Sources: The National Interest, The Aviationist

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

Russian Ministry of Defence

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

Source: The National Interest, GlobalSecurity.org

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

Russian Ministry of Defence

Source: The National Interest

The Foxhound needs about 2,600 feet to land.

Russian Ministry of DefenceA Russian MiG-31 landing and deploying parachutes.

Source: GlobalSecurity.org

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

Russian Ministry of DefenceA Russian MiG-31 parked at an air field at night.

Source: The National Interest

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

Russian Ministry of Defence

Source: The National Interest

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