MOSCOW, August 19. /TASS/. The crews of upgraded MiG-31BM fighter jets held their first ever dogfight in the stratosphere at an altitude of over 20 km, practicing intercepts of a notional airspace intruder in drills over the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, the Pacific Fleet’s press office reported on Monday.
"In accordance with the combat training plan, the crews of MiG-31BM high-altitude fighters of the Pacific Fleet’s naval aviation based in Kamchatka held a training exercise to intercept a notional intruder of Russia’s airspace in the stratosphere. For the first time ever, new upgraded MiG-31BM high-altitude interceptor-fighters took part in a dogfight at their service ceiling. The fighters flew at a speed of 2,500 km/h and an altitude of more than 20 km," the press office said in a statement.
One of the MiG-31BM fighters simulated an airspace intruder. It was assigned the task of penetrating Russia’s airspace in the lower layers of the stratosphere at a maximum speed, crossing the designated frontier and dodging a possible chase. Another MiG-31BM fighter from the quick reaction alert force was scrambled to intercept the target. In order to complicate the assignment, the MiG-31BM’s crew searched for the enemy on its own, without involving ground-based air defense forces.
After locking on the target, the pilots made electronic launches of long-range air-to-air missiles. Overall, the pilots made six flights into the stratosphere over their flight shift.
"The training exercise became one of the stages for fighter pilots to learn to operate new and upgraded aircraft and to sharpen their piloting skills required for air defense combat patrols," the statement says.
Upgraded fighter jets
The composite air regiment of the Russian Pacific Fleet’s naval aviation received new MiG-31BM fighters in February 2019. During the factory repairs and upgrade, the MiG-31 aircraft’s avionics and radio-electronic systems were renewed and their tactical characteristics and combat capabilities were improved.
The upgraded MiG-31BM (NATO reporting name: Foxhound) fighter is designated to intercept air targets at long ranges inaccessible for strikes by standard fighter jets. The fighters of this type are capable of providing network-centric combat control while operating with other aircraft. The MiG-31BM is furnished with a phased array radar. The fighters of this type can employ R-33 long-range air-to-air missiles and R-73 short-range air-launched weapons.
The MiG-31BM is 21.62 meters long and has a maximum takeoff weight of 46.2 tonnes. The fighter jet can develop a maximum speed of 3,000 km/h at a high altitude and has a service ceiling of 20,600 meters. The fighter jet furnished with four R-33 missiles and two suspended fuel tanks has an operating range of 3,000 km. The MiG-31BM is outfitted with a mid-air refueling system and two D-30F6 engines with a take-off thrust of 15,500 kgf each.