NIZHNY NOVGOROD, April 9. /TASS/. The Russian army will receive more than 130 upgraded MiG-31B interceptor fighters, and the first 24 aircraft have already been delivered to the troops, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters on Thursday.
"After modernization of MiG-31 fighters we expect to get more than 130 such aircraft in the troops. They will have excellent flight technical characteristics," Borisov said. According to him, 12-13 fighters will undergo modernization each year.
The first contract on the MiG-31 modernization that was signed in 2011 envisages the supply to Russia’s Air Force of more than 50 modernized aircraft until 2019. In autumn 2014, an additional contract was concluded also on more than 50 MiG-31BM fighters. They are to be delivered to the army by the end of 2018.
The military official also said that the life cycle of upgraded MiG-31BM interceptors may be prolonged to 50 years.
"In fact a new life can be breathed into this plane. Already now it is clear that after upgrade it can have an active service life and remain on duty for 40-45 years. But even that is not the limit. I believe that ways of extending its life cycle to 50 years will be considered," Borisov said.
The deputy minister said that the upgraded fighters will have their avionics and radar partly replaced, the fuselage and landing gear units will be almost fully disassembled.
According to Borisov, the MiG-31 modernization "will extend its service life instead of restoring its manufacturing." The deputy defense minister said that the issue of the resumption of the interceptors’ manufacturing has been intensively debated. "But in the current economic situation this is inexpedient and unprofitable," he said.
Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force Viktor Bondarev said previously that the military planned to use the MiG-31 jet until 2030. He proposed in 2013 to develop a warplane to replace the interceptor before the end of the current state armaments program.]