Mikoyan MiG-31

Russian Air Force MiG-31B (Ser: RF-92387; Bort: 70 Blue)[1]
Role Interceptor aircraft, attack aircraft
National origin Soviet Union
Manufacturer Mikoyan-Gurevich / Mikoyan
First flight 16 September 1975
Introduction 6 May 1981
Status In service
Primary users Russian Aerospace Forces
Kazakhstan Air Force
Produced 1975–1994
Number built 519[2]

The Mikoyan MiG-31 (Russian: Микоян МиГ-31; NATO reporting name: Foxhound) is a supersonic interceptor aircraft developed for use by the Soviet Air Forces. The aircraft was designed by the Mikoyan design bureau as a replacement for the earlier MiG-25 "Foxbat"; the MiG-31 is based on, and shares design elements with the MiG-25.[3] The MiG-31 has the distinction of being one of the fastest combat jets in the world.[4] It continues to be operated by the Russian Air Force and the Kazakhstan Air Force following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Russian Defence Ministry expects the MiG-31 to remain in service until at least 2030.[5]



The MiG-25 made substantial design sacrifices in order to achieve high speed, altitude and rate of climb. It lacked maneuverability at interception speeds and was difficult to fly at low altitudes. The MiG-25's speed was limited to Mach 2.83, but it could reach a maximum speed of Mach 3.2 or more with the risk of engine damage.[6][7]

Development of the MiG-25's replacement began with the Ye-155MP (Russian: Е-155МП) prototype which first flew on 16 September 1975.[8] Although it bore a superficial resemblance to the MiG-25, it had a longer fuselage to accommodate the radar operator's cockpit and was in many respects a new design. An important development was the advanced radar, capable of both look-up and look-down/shoot-down engagement, as well as multiple target tracking. This gave the Soviet Union an interceptor with the capability to engage the most likely Western intruders (low flying cruise missiles and bombers) at long range.[9] The MiG-31 replaced the Tu-128 interceptor.[10]

Like its MiG-25 predecessor, the introduction of the MiG-31 was surrounded by early speculation and misinformation concerning its design and abilities. The West learned of the new interceptor from Lieutenant Viktor Belenko, a pilot who defected to Japan in 1976 with his MiG-25P.[11] Belenko described an upcoming "Super Foxbat" with two seats and an ability to intercept cruise missiles. According to his testimony, the new interceptor was to have air intakes similar to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23, which the MiG-31 does not have, at least in production variants.[12]

Into production

Serial production of the MiG-31 began in 1979.[13][14] The MiG-31 is able to maintain combat effectiveness despite the potential use of active and passive radar jammers and thermal decoys by adversaries. A group of four MiG-31 interceptors is able to control an area of air space across a total length of 800 to 900 kilometres (500 to 560 mi);[9] its radar possessing a maximum detection range of 200 kilometres (120 mi) in distance (radius) and the typical width of detection along the front of 225 kilometres (140 mi).[15]

The MiG-31 was designed to fulfill the following mission objectives:[2]

  • Intercept cruise missiles and their launch aircraft by reaching missile launch range in the lowest possible time after departing the loiter area;
  • Detect and destroy low flying cruise missiles, UAVs and helicopters;
  • Long range escort of strategic bombers;
  • Provide strategic air defense in areas not covered by ground-based, air defense systems.

MiG-31 production ended in 1994.[16] The first production batch of 519 MiG-31s including 349 "baseline models" was produced at the Sokol plant between 1976 and 1988. The second batch of 101 MiG-31DZs was produced from 1989 to 1991. The final batch of 69 MiG-31B aircraft was produced between 1990 and 1994. From the final batch 50 were retained by the Kazakhstan Air Force after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Of the "baseline models", 40 airframes were upgraded to MiG-31BS standard.[2]

Upgrades and replacement

Some upgrade programs have found their way into the MiG-31 fleet, like the MiG-31BM multirole version with upgraded avionics, new multimode radar, hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls, liquid crystal (LCD) color multi-function displays (MFDs), ability to carry the R-77 missile and various Russian air-to-ground missiles (AGMs) such as the Kh-31 anti-radiation missile (ARM), a new and more powerful computer, and digital data links. A project to upgrade the Russian MiG-31 fleet to the MiG-31BM standard began in 2010;[17] 100 aircraft are to be upgraded to MiG-31BM standard by 2020.[18][19] Russian Federation Defence Ministry chief Colonel Yuri Balyko has claimed that the upgrade will increase the combat effectiveness of the aircraft several times over.[20] 18 MIG-31BMs were delivered in 2014.[21] The Russian military will receive more than 130 upgraded MiG-31BMs, and the first 24 aircraft have already been delivered, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters on 9 April 2015.[22]

Russia plans to start development of a replacement for the MiG-31 by 2019. The aircraft will be called PAK-DP (ПАК ДП, Перспективный авиационный комплекс дальнего перехвата – Prospective Air Complex for Long-Range Interception).[23] Development of the new aircraft, designated MiG-41, began in April 2013. Such development is favored over restarting MiG-31 production.[24] In March 2014, Russian test pilot Anatoly Kvochur said that work began on a Mach 4 capable MiG-41 based on the MiG-31.[25][26] Later reports said that development of the MiG-31 replacement is to begin in 2017, with the first aircraft to be delivered in 2020, and the replacement entering service in 2025.[27]



Like the MiG-25, the MiG-31 is a large twin-engine aircraft with side-mounted air intake ramps, a shoulder-mounted wing with an aspect ratio of 2.94, and twin vertical tailfins. Unlike the MiG-25, it has two seats, with the rear occupied by a dedicated weapon systems officer.[28] The MiG-31 is limited to five g when travelling at supersonic speeds.[6] While flying under combat weight, its wing loading is marginal and its thrust-to-weight ratio is favorable. The MiG-31 is not designed for close combat or rapid turning.[6]

The wings and airframe of the MiG-31 are stronger than those of the MiG-25, permitting supersonic flight at low altitudes. Like the MiG-25, its flight surfaces are built primarily of nickel-steel alloy, enabling the aircraft to tolerate kinetic heating at airspeeds approaching Mach 3. The MiG-31 airframe comprises 49% arc-welded nickel steel, 33% light metal alloy, 16% titanium and 2% composites.[29] Its D30-F6 jet engines, each rated at 152 kN thrust, allow a maximum speed of Mach 1.23 at low altitude. High-altitude speed is temperature-redlined to Mach 2.83 – the thrust-to-drag ratio is sufficient for speeds in excess of Mach 3, but such speeds pose unacceptable hazards to engine and airframe life in routine use.[6]

Electronics suite

The MiG-31 was among the first aircraft with a phased array radar, and is one of two aircraft in the world capable of independently firing long-range air-to-air missiles as of 2013.[30][31][32][33][34]

The MiG-31 was the world's first operational fighter with a passive electronically scanned array radar (PESA), the Zaslon S-800. Its maximum range against fighter-sized targets is approximately 200 km, and it can track up to 10 targets and simultaneously attack four of them with its Vympel R-33 missiles. The radar is matched with an infra-red search and track (IRST) system in a retractable undernose fairing.[6]

The MiG-31 was equipped with RK-RLDN and APD-518[35] digital secure datalinks. The RK-RLDN datalink is for communication with ground control centers. The APD-518 datalink enables a flight of four MiG-31 to automatically exchange radar-generated data within 200 km from each other. It also enables other aircraft with less sophisticated avionics,[36] such as MiG-23,25,29/Su-15,27[15] to be directed to targets spotted by MiG-31 (a maximum of four (long-range) for each MiG-31 aircraft). The A-50 AEW aircraft and MiG-31 can automatically exchange aerial and terrestrial radar target designation,[37] as well as air defense.[38] The MiG-31 is equipped with ECM of radar and infrared ranges,[39] and is capable of performing combat tasks.

The flight-navigation equipment of the MiG-31 includes a complex of automatic control system SAU-155МP and sighting-navigation complex KN-25 with two inertial systems and IP-1-72A with digital computer, electronic long range navigation system Radical NP (312) or A-331, electronic system of the long-range navigation A-723. Distant radio navigation is carried out by means of two systems: CHAYKA (similar to the system of Laurent) and «Route» (similar to the system of Omega).

Similarly to the complex S-300 missile system,[40] aircraft group with APD-518 can: share data obtained by various radars from different directions (active or passive scanning of radiation) and summarize the data. The target can be detected passively (through noise posed to protect themselves / active search radar (target)) and (or) actively simultaneously from many different directions (active search radar of MiG-31). Every aircraft with the APD-518 will have the exact data, even if is not involved in the search.[13][35][41]

  • interacting with ground-based automated digital control system (ACS «Rubezh» Operating radius of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi), can control multiple groups of planes), operating modes of remote aiming, semi-automated actions (coordinate support), singly, and also: to direct on the target missiles launched from the other aircraft.
  • Digital immune system provides the automatic exchange of tactical information in a group of four interceptors, remote one from another at a distance of 200 km and aiming at the target group of fighters with less-powerful avionics (in this case the aircraft performs the role of guidance point or repeater).[15]


Adopted in 1981 RP-31 N007 backstop (Russian – Zaslon).[41]

  • the range of detection of air targets with Zaslon-A: 200 km (for the purpose of a radar cross-section of 19 m2 on a collision angle with probability 0.5)
  • target detection distance with radar cross-section of 3 m2 in the rear within 35 km with a probability of 0.5[42][43]
  • number of detected targets: 24 (was originally 10[44])
  • number of targets for attack: 6 (was originally 4[44][45])
  • range of automatic tracking: 120 kilometres (75 mi)
  • detection of infrared signature targets: 56 kilometres (35 mi)
  • Effective in the detection of cruise missiles and other targets against ground clutter[44]
  • Until 2000, it was the world's only fighter in service equipped with phased array radar,[39][46] when the Mitsubishi F-2 entered service with the J/APG-1 active phased array radar.
  • Able to intercept and destroy cruise missiles flying at extremely low altitudes.[47][38]

Variant differences

The basic differences between other versions and the MiG-31BM:[45]

  • The onboard radar complex of the MiG-31BM can track 24 airborne targets at one time, six of which can be simultaneously attacked by R-33S missiles.
  • Modernized variants of the aircraft can be equipped with anti-radiation missiles Kh-31, Kh-25MR or MPU (up to six units), anti-ship Kh-31A (up to six), air-to-surface class missiles Kh-29 and Kh-59 (up to three) or Kh-59M (up to two units), up to six precision bombs KAB-1500 or eight KAB-500 with television or laser-guidance. Maximum mass of payload is 9,000 kilograms (20,000 lb).
  • The MiG-31M, MiG-31D, and MiG-31BM standard aircraft have an upgraded Zaslon-M radar, with larger antenna and greater detection range (said to be 400 kilometres (250 mi) against AWACS-size targets) and the ability to attack multiple targets  – air and ground – simultaneously. The Zaslon-M has a 1.4 m (4.6 ft) diameter (larger) antenna, with 50–100% better performance than Zaslon. In April 1994 it was used with an R-37 to hit a target at 300 kilometres (190 mi) distance.[41] It has a search range of 400 km for a 19–20 m2 RCS target and can track 24 targets at once, engaging six,[48][49] or 282 km for five m2.[50] Relative target speed detection increased from Mach 5 to Mach 6, improving the probability of destroying fast-moving targets.[41] The MiG-31BM is one of only a few aircraft able to intercept and destroy cruise missiles flying at extremely low altitude.[41][51][52]


The aircraft is a two-seater with the rear seat occupant controlling the radar. Although cockpit controls are duplicated across cockpits, it is normal for the aircraft to be flown only from the front seat. The pilot flies the aircraft by means of a centre stick and left hand throttles. The rear cockpit has only two small vision ports on the sides of the canopy. The presence of the WSO (weapon systems operator) in the rear cockpit improves aircraft effectiveness since the WSO is entirely dedicated to radar operations and weapons deployment, thus decreasing the workload of the pilot and increasing efficiency. Both cockpits are fitted with zero/zero ejection seats which allow the crew to eject at any altitude and airspeed.[6]


The MiG-31's main armament is four R-33 air-to-air missiles (NATO codename AA-9 'Amos') carried under the belly.

  • One GSh-6-23 23 mm cannon with 260 rounds.
  • Fuselage recesses for four R-33 (AA-9 'Amos') or six R-37 (AA-13 'Arrow') (MiG-31M/BM only).
  • Four underwing pylons for a combination of (six places for charging[53] (two spaces to add removable fuel tanks[16])):
    • Six R-37 (missile) long-range missiles 280 kilometres (170 mi).[54]
    • Four[15]) R-33 (missile) long-range missiles 300 kilometres (190 mi) 2012.[55]
    • (?)× Kh-31 long-range missiles (200 km) for high-speed target (maneuvering with an overload of 8 G).[55]
    • (?)× R-33 AA-9 "Amos" (1981) 120 kilometres (75 mi), R-33S (1999) 160 kilometres (99 mi).[56]
    • Two[15] or four (superior limit)[57]× R-40TD1 (AA-6 'Acrid') medium-range missiles (R-40 (50 kilometres (31 mi), MiG-25P, 1970) 80 kilometres (50 mi)(PD)(user)), height of applications between 0.5–3 kilometres (0.31–1.86 mi) (maneuvering with overload four g).[58]
    • Four R-60 (AA-8 'Aphid')
      • Four R-73 (AA-11 'Archer') short-range IR missiles,
      • Four R-77 (AA-12 'Adder') medium-range missiles (100 km) for high-speed target (maneuvering with overload of 12 G).[59]
  • Some aircraft are equipped to launch the Kh-31P (AS-17 'Krypton') and Kh-58 (AS-11 'Kilter') anti-radiation missiles in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) role. Anti-ship missiles Kh-31A (up to six) and air-to-surface missiles X-59 and X-29T (up to three) or X-59M (up to two units), up to six air bombs KAB-1500, or up to eight KAB-500 with a television or laser-guidance. Maximum weight of the combat load is 9,000 kilograms (20,000 lb).[60][61]

The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal is a high-precision hypersonic aeroballistic missile with a range of more than 2,000 km, Mach 10 speed, and an ability to maneuver at every stage of flight.[62] It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.[63]

Operational history

Serial production of the MiG-31 began in 1979.[13][64] The MiG-31 entered operational service with the Soviet Air Defence Forces (PVO) in 1981.[65] It was the world's first aircraft with a phased array radar, and is one of only two aircraft in the world capable of independently firing long-range air-to-air missiles as of 2013.[30][31][32] (The other is the Iranian Air Force F-14 Tomcat which uses a domestic version of the long-range AIM-54 Phoenix called the Fakour-90.[33][34]) The MiG-31BM has a detection range of 282 km for a target with a radar cross-section of 5 square meters.[66]

With the designation Ye-266, a re-engined Ye-155[67][68] set new world records.[69] It reached an absolute maximum altitude of 37,650 metres (123,520 feet) in 1977,[70] and set a time to height record of 35,000 metres (115,000 feet) in 4 minutes, 11.78 seconds, both of which were set by the famous MiG test pilot Alexander Fedotov. Pyotr Ostapenko,[71] his deputy, set a time to height record to 30,000 m (98,000 ft) in 3 minutes and 9.8 seconds in 1975.[72][73]


Syria ordered eight MiG-31E aircraft in 2007 for the Syrian Air Force.[74][75] The order was suspended in May 2009 reportedly either due to Israeli pressure or lack of Syrian funds.[76] On 15 August 2015, Turkish news media reported that six MiG-31s had been delivered to the Syrian Arab Air Force,[77][78] but Russia denied making MiG-31 deliveries to Syria.[79]


Ye-155MP (MiG-25MP)
Prototype modification of the early MiG-31. First flight in 16 September 1975.
First variant which entered in serial production. 349 aircraft were built.
Development of a more comprehensive advanced version, the MiG-31M, began in 1984 and first flew in 1985, but the dissolution of the Soviet Union prevented it from entering full production.[80][81] One piece rounded windscreen, small side windows for rear cockpit, wider and deeper dorsal spine. Digital flight controls added, multifunction CRT cockpit displays, multi-mode phased array radar. No gun fitted in this model, refueling probe moved to starboard side of aircraft, fuselage weapon stations increased from 4 to 6 by adding two centre-line stations. Maximum TO weight increased to 52,000 kg using increased thrust D-30F6M engines instead of the D-30F6 engines.[82] 1 prototype and 6 flyable pre-production units were produced.
Two aircraft were designated as Type 31D and were manufactured as dedicated anti-satellite models with ballast in the nose instead of radars, flat fuselage undersurface (i.e. no recessed weapon system bays) and had large winglets above and below the wing-tips. Equipped with Vympel ASAT missiles.[82] 2 prototypes were built.
Special modification used as a flying laboratory for testing of ejection seats during flight.
MiG-31 01DZ
Two-seat all weather, all altitude interceptor. Designated as MiG-31 01DZ when fitted with air-to-air refueling probe.[82] 100 produced of DZ variant.[83]
Second production batch with upgraded avionics and in-flight refueling probe introduced in 1990. Its development was the result of the Soviet discovery that Phazotron radar division engineer Adolf Tolkachev had sold information on advanced radars to the West. A new version of the compromised radar was hastily developed.[84] MiG-31B also have the improved ECM and EW equipment with integration of improved R-33S missiles. Long range navigation system compatible with Loran/Omega and Chaka ground stations added. This model replaced the 01DZ models in late 1990.[82]
Export version of the MiG-31B with simplified avionics. Never entered in serial production.[82]
Designation applied to type 01DZ when converted to MiG-31B standard.[82]
After passing state testing in 2008 this modernized variant of MiG-31B was approved for introduction into air force of Russia. 50 planes are modified to MiG-31BM (Bolshaya Modernizatsiya/Deep Modernization) standard in accordance with 2011 contract.[85] Efficiency of modernized MiG-31BM is 2.6 times greater than basic MiG-31.[86] The MiG-31BМ's maximum detection range for air targets was increased in the upgrade to 320 km. It had the ability to automatically track up to ten targets, and the latest units can track up to 24 targets and simultaneously engage up to 8 targets. The on-board Argon-K is replaced with new Baget 55-06 computer[87] that selects four targets of highest priority, which simultaneously are engaged by long-range R-33S air-to-air missiles.[88] New long range missile R-37 (missile) with speed of Mach 6 and range up to 400km is developed during modernization process for use with newly modernized MiG-31.[89] MiG-31BM has multi-role capability as is capable of using anti-radar, air to ship and air to ground missiles. It has some of avionics unified with MiG-29SMT and has refueling probe.[90] MiG-31BM broke world record while spending seven hours and four minutes in the air while covering the distance of 8,000 km.[91]
It is the latest modernization variant first time contracted in 2014 for modernization of 60 aircraft, it is very similar in some aspects to the BM standard. Unlike the BS standard, aircraft modernized into the BSM standard are equipped with air refueling probe. Improvements were made to the aircraft canopy, where new and better heat resistant glass was used, thus enabling the MiG-31BSM to fly with cruise speed of 3000km/h at long distances without any damage. Furthermore, new faster central computer Baget-55-06 is used with addition of multi-functional displays, one for pilot and three for weapons operator-navigator. Also there is a new set of navigation equipment. The MiG-31BSM has multi-role capability with ability to use anti-radar, anti-ship and air-to-ground missiles. Main visible difference between the BS and BSM standards is adding of the rear-view periscope above the front cockpit canopy.[92]
Modified MiG-31BM aircraft capable of launching the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile. As MiG-31BM is capable of using air to ground weapons,[93] it was a logical choice for this variant. Six to ten aircraft have been modified as of May 2018. With this modification and with removing APU for air to air missile, the aircraft gained sole role as attack aircraft.[94][95]
Planned fighter-bomber intended for use with TV, radar and laser-guided ASM weapon systems. Never entered in serial production.[82]
Planned export version of the MiG-31F.[82]
MiG-31I (Ishim)
Modification for air launch to orbit of small spacecraft with a mass of 120–160 kg to Earth's orbit in altitude about 600–300 km.



Former operators

 Soviet Union

Notable accidents

On 4 April 1984, a MiG-31 crashed while on a test flight, killing Mikoyan chief test pilot and Hero of the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Vasilyevich Fedotov and his navigator V. Zaitsev.

On 6 September 2011, a MiG-31 crashed near Bolgary village in Perm region of Russia.[105] The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff, killing both pilots. Another non-fatal crash occurred in 2010. The entire fleet was grounded pending an investigation.[106]

During the night of 23 April 2013, a Kazakhstan Air Force MiG-31 crashed during a training flight near the village of Prostornoye in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, killing the pilot and injuring the navigator. The plane crashed due to technical failure. The same plane had undergone a major overhaul at a plant in Rzhev, northwest Russia in December 2012.[107]

On 4 September 2014, a MiG-31 crashed during exercises at a distance of 25 kilometres from the city of Armavir.[108]

On 25 January 2016, a MiG-31 crashed in the Krasnoyarsk region of Russia. The pilots were able to eject safely and no casualties were reported.[109]

On 26 April 2017, a MiG-31 crashed in Buryatia in western Siberia. Russian Defense Ministry reported that both pilots managed to eject and their lives were not in danger.[110]

Specifications (MiG-31)

Data from Great Book of Modern Warplanes,[3] Mikoyan,[111] Combat Aircraft since 1945,[112] airforce-technology.com,[113] deagel.com[114]

General characteristics


  • Maximum speed:
    • At high altitude: Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h, 1,860 mph)
    • At low altitude: Mach 1.21 (1,500 km/h, 932 mph)
  • Cruise speed: Mach 2.35 (2,500 km/h, 1,550 mph)
  • Range: 3,000 km (1,860 mi, 1,620 nmi) with 4 x R-33E and 2 drop tanks; 5,400 km (3,360 mi; 2,920 nmi) with 4 x R-33E and 2 drop tanks with one aerial refueling[115]
  • Combat radius: 1,450 km (900 mi, 780 nmi) at Mach 0.8 and at an altitude of 10,000 m (33,000 ft); 720 km (450 mi; 390 nmi) at Mach 2.35 and at an altitude of 18,000 m (59,000 ft)[116]
  • Service ceiling: 20,600 m (67,600 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 208 m/s (41,000 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 665 kg/m² (136 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.85
  • Maximum g-load: 5 g



See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists



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