Foxy woxy wows Paris (Mikoyan MiG-31)

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"Foxy Woxy Wows Paris"
Oct 3, 2014 by Bill Sweetman in Ares

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/blog/foxy-woxy-wows-paris-0

The break-up of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union was a new era in history, but for those of us who had specialized in writing about Soviet aircraft -- an exercise in open-source intelligence rather than reporting -- it was a change in career. Three years after the first crack in the wall -- the appearance of the MiG-29 at Farnborough -- Russia brought more new aircraft to Paris, including the A-40 amphibian (on AW&ST's cover), and Sukhoi's Mikhail Simonov and Gulfstream's Allen Paulson held a press conference to announce a joint supersonic business jet project. The star exhibit, though, was the MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptor.

The MiG-31 was not brand-new -- work had started in the 1970s and the aircraft at the show was eight years old -- but that made its technology more impressive, with the first production, airborne electronically scanned array radar, the ability to carry up to six Vympel R-33 missiles and a higher speed and altitude capability than any Western fighter. Remarkably, the D-30F6 engine -- on display in the Russian pavilion -- was actually derived from the D-30 that powered the already elderly Tu-134, with an afterburner and hot end heavily protected by thermal barrier coatings. "A ceramicist's dream," one US engineer called it.

As AW&ST's editor Don Fink reported, another then-unique feature of the MiG-31 was a datalink system that allowed four fighters to share targeting data, with the leader connected to a specially developed ground network. As a result, the formation could be spread 200 km apart, sweeping a 900 km swath for targets. What the Russians did not say at the time was that this feature was partially based on their supersonic anti-ship missiles: these weapons were designed to operate wolfpack-style against U.S. carrier battle groups, with one weapon popping up to medium altitude on approach to identify the carrier and other high-value targets and designating other missiles to attack.

The MiG-31 had been primarily designed to stop low-flying B-1s and B-52s armed with cruise missiles, but -- as Fink reported -- it was still intended to intercept high-speed, high-flying targets. Officially, there were no such things by June 1991, the SR-71 having been retired the previous year. But oddly enough, a few years later, MiG pitched an export version of an improved MiG-31, the MiG-31FE, with the claim that it could defeat targets flying at Mach 6 and 140,000 feet -– and named that target Aurora.

The full-scale MiG-31 upgrade, the MiG-31M, was unveiled a few months after the 1991 show, but never passed the prototype stage. A less ambitious version, the MiG-31BM, finally entered service in the last couple of years, and the existing fleet is being modernized, with the airframes (still largely made from welded steel, like its MiG-25 ancestor) being overhauled for another 15 years of life. On September 17, the Russian air force reminded everyone that the Mach 2.83 aircraft is still the world's fastest and highest-flying fighter by sending two MiG-31BMs, supported by tankers, to accompany Tu-95 bombers on a foray towards the Alaska coast. Its performance -- a 450-mile radius of action, on internal fuel, at Mach 2.35 -- is still impressive.
 

DrRansom

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How does a MIG-31FE intercept a Mach 6 Aurora?

MIG-31 has a 450nm radius at Mach 2.35?! That's pretty good.
 

LowObservable

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Same as a Mach 2 Viggen gets parameters on a Mach 3 SR. Depends how predictable the ops are. Start when wee Hamish McSuvorov phones from the Machrihanish fence line to say the op's on today...
 

marauder2048

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But oddly enough, a few years later, MiG pitched an export version of an improved MiG-31, the MiG-31FE, with the claim that it could defeat targets flying at Mach 6 and 140,000 feet -– and named that target Aurora.

Reminds me of Victor Belenko's remark that virtually everything the Soviets/Russians knew about potential adversary aircraft came from Western aviation press reports and speculation.
 

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