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The Mikoyan MiG-31 continue to form the backbone of Russia’s air defenses

The MiG-31 (Western reporting name Foxhound-A) was developed as part of an overall programme to provide the Soviet air defenses with the ability to meet the threat posed by NATO low-level strike aircraft and cruise missiles. It was also intended to fulfill high-altitude and high-speed interception

It was developed as a successor to a MiG-25 interceptor. The prototype Ye-155MP first flew in 1975. Production of the MiG-31 began in 1979 and the type entered service in 1982. A total of 519 of these aircraft were produced. The MiG-31s continue to form the back bone of Russia’s air defenses. At least 300 are in service with Russia, equipping around 15 fighter regiments.

Kazakhstan is the only former Soviet republic to operate the MiG-31, with a regiment based at Semipalatinsk. Some sources report that in 2016 a total of 6 MiG-31 interceptors were delivered to Syria. By 2017 a total of 110 aircraft were reportedly upgraded to MiG-31BM and MiG-31BMS standards in order to extend their operational lives. It is planned that all operational MiG-31s will be upgraded in order to keep them operational.

This interceptor was designed to engage high-flying and high-speed aircraft, such as Lockheed SR-71 reconnaissance planes. The MiG-31 has a high speed, altitude and rate of climb, however it sacrifices maneuverability in order to achieve these capabilities. The MiG-31 is among the fastest production aircraft. It uses missiles to ѕhσt dσwn enemy aircraft at long ranges.

The MiG-31’s Zaslon radar was the world’s first phased-array unit. This radar had a range of 200 km. It could track 10 targets simultaneously, and control the engagement of 4 of them at once. Until 2001 the MiG-31 was the world’s only serial fighter aircraft, equipped with a phased-array radar, when a Japanese Mitsubishi F-2 with an advanced phased-array radar was adopted.

Operational experience showed that the MiG-31 was deficient in range and some 40-45 aircraft were fitted with semi-retractable in-flight refueling probes.

Several MiG-31 variants were proposed for a variety of roles including defense suppression and long-range interdiction.