More than 50 modernized MiG-31BM fighter jets will be delivered to the Russian armed forces by the end of 2018. The updated MiG jets will patrol some of the most important strategic areas, including the Arctic, as reported by TASS.
The first contract for the modernization of the MiG-31 was signed with the Nizhny Novgorod Aircraft Building Plant Sokol in 2011, guaranteeing the delivery of over 50 modernized MiG-31BM jets to the Russian Air Force by 2019. This year, the military received 18 of these jets, according to the press agency.
Presumably, after the complete overhaul and modernization to MiG-31BM standards, the aircraft will conduct combat duties by patrolling critical strategic areas, including the Arctic.
The aircraft features updated avionics, which will improve the ergonomics of the cockpit in general. The weapons control system will also undergo modernization. Additionally, the upgraded MiG-31BM will have the new Zaslon-M radar system, designed by the Research Institute of Instrumentation named for Tikhomirov, which is part of KRET.
It may be recalled that the basis of the MiG-31 weapons control system was the Zaslon radar with passive phased array, developed by the Research Institute of Instrumentation named for Tikhomirov. That radar station was first put into service in 1981, making the MiG-31 the first fighter jet in the world to be equipped with radar with phased antenna array, and it remained the only such mass-produced fighter jet until 2000.
The new Zaslon-M radar is different than its predecessor Zaslon due to its extended antenna, which is now up to 1.4 m in diameter. The detection range of aerial targets in the fighter jet class has increased to 320 km, with the range of destruction at 280 km.
The on-board radar system of the upgraded MiG-31BM will be able to track up to 10 airborne targets simultaneously. The aircraft can launch air-to-air missiles, so-called “smart” bombs, and anti-radar missiles.
If aircraft of this class were previously classified only as long interceptors, the new MiG has become a multi-purpose aircraft. It is expected that the modernization of the MiG-31BM has increased its efficiency by 2.6 times, as compared with the MiG-31.