NATO Codename: Foxhound
Country of Origin: USSR
First flown in September 1975 as te Ye-155MP prototype for a production debut in 1979 and a service debut early in 1983, the MiG-31 is essentially a reworking of the MiG-25 concept with a much revised and strengthened structure (including 50% nickel steel, 33% light alloy and 16% titanium compared with the earlier type's equivalent figures of 80%, 8% and 11% respectively) for sustained supersonic speed at medium and low altitudes, turbofan power for improved range and endurance, a two-man crew and a new suite of digital electronics. The result is a warplane of reduced outright flight performance but considerably enhanced electronic and weapon capability, the latter being derived from the installation of the world's first pulse-Doppler phased-array radar for genuine look-down/shoot- down capability with the R-33 (AA-9 'Amos') long-range AAM, of which four are carried in two tandem pairs under the fuselage. The Zaslon radar has a search range of 108 nm (124 miles; 200 km) and a tracking range of 64.75 nm (74.6 miles; 120 km), and can search across an angular width of 70 degrees through electronic beam steering of the passive phased-array fixed antennae; the radar has an important track-while-scan capability that provides for the simultaneous tracking and prioritizing of 10 targets before control of simultaneous long-range missile attacks, to a maximum range of 64.75 nm (74.6 miles; 120 km), on the four deemed to offer the highest threat, or at crew command any other four targets. The advanced IRSTS system has its sensor in a retractable undernose fairing, and is integrated with the radar via the fire- control computer to provide a continued operational capability even when the radar has been degraded by ECM. The MiG-31 also has revised leading-edge root extensions, main landing gear units each fitted with twin wheels, a different powerplant with longer jetpipes, a six-barrel cannon located in a bulge above the starboard wheel well, and much improved ECM capability, the last being handled by the systems operator in the rear seat.
MiG-31M 'Foxhound-B' : Under final development in the early 1990s, this is a much improved version of the MiG-31, from which it is most obviously distinguishable by the rear seater's smaller windows, wider dorsal spine, more rounded wing tips with dielectric areas flush-set at front and back, curved and larger fin fillets, enlarged and modified leading-edge root extensions, the port-side semi-retractable inflight-refueling probe replaced by a starboard-side fully retractable inflight-refueling probe, and four underwing hardpoints for a new AAM in the same basic class as the American AIM-120 AMRAAM. At least one of the prototypes has been trialled with wing tip ECM jammer pods carrying upper and lower winglets.
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