The original MiG-25 was originally designed for the interceptor and reconnaissance roles, and was subsequently adapted for the SEAD role. Variants are divided into these three role-based families, with a separate section detailing the distinct family of MiG-31 variants and precursors. The MiG-31 was based on the aerodynamic configuration of the MiG-25, but featured a new structure, systems, avionics and engines, and was a much later aircraft optimised to meet the threat posed by air-launched cruise missiles. The MiG-31 brought the MiG-25 right up to date, and the type’s present moribund status reflects the political and economic realities of the new Russia, rather than any shortcoming of the aircraft itself.
The MiG-31M designation was applied to the most advanced version of the ‘Foxhound’ yet seen. The new variant was primarily designed to exploit the longer-range R-37 missile, which had a claimed reach of up to 300 km (186 miles). In April 1994 a MiG-31M armed with an R-37 demonstrated at least one successful intercept against a very long range target (destroying a drone at a range of 300 km/ 186 miles). Whereas the basic MiG-31 carried four missiles in tandem side-by-side pairs, the MiG-31 M had a more cluttered belly, with three side-by-side recesses, each housing a tandem pair of the new missiles. Similar in size and appearance to the original R-33, the new R-37 missile is almost certainly a direct derivative of the baseline MiG-31 ‘s ‘Phoenikskii’.To them could be added up to four of the formidable new R-77 (AA-12 ‘Adder’) missiles underwing. The gun was deleted.
To take full advantage of its new missile, the MiG-31M was fitted with an entirely new radar (possibly based on the existing Zaslon) with a larger-diameter radome (necessitating a wider and deeper nose). The radar was augmented by a revised IRST and a laser rangefinder. To improve the pilot’s view forward over the nose, the nose in front of the cockpit was drooped by 7°. The MiG-31M was fitted with a range of new avionics systems, and the rear cockpit was extensively redesigned, with new CRT multi-function display screens. Interestingly, the rear cockpit lost its throttles and telescopic control column, and, with no provision for flying the aircraft from the backseat, the forward-looking periscope was removed, and the canopy over the rear cockpit became more solid, losing windows. This made the rear cockpit environment darker, improving the backseater’s view of his display screens in strong sunlight. By contrast, the front cockpit canopy was entirely redesigned, losing its centreline frame, and the original heavily-framed windscreen with its separate quarter lights was replaced by a single, one-piece wraparound screen.
The MiG-31M had a bulged fuselage spine, housing new avionics equipment and some extra fuel. Other visible airframe modifications included the provision of enlarged LERXes with sabre-like curved leading edges. Similarly, the rudders were of increased chord, yet the tailfin trailing edge below the rudder was cut away, improving airflow around the rear fuselage. The fin fillets were also refined. Although the MiG-31M retained an inflight-refuelling probe, it was redesigned, with an integral cover that was more fully submerged when retracted, and was relocated on the starboard side of the nose With a considerably heavier maximum take-off weight, the MiG-31M gained a new, more powerful engine, the D-30F-6M.
Development of a more comprehensive advanced version, the MiG-31M, began in 1983 and first flew in 1986, but the dissolution of the Soviet Union prevented it from entering full production. The MiG-31M standard adds some additional features like Global Positioning System (GPS) and GLONASS receivers, and three color CRT MFDs in the rear cockpit.
The upgraded MiG-31BМ maximum range detection of air targets increased to 320 km, automatic tracking accepted up to ten goals, and the latest complexes can track up to 24 targets and simultaneously can attack up to 8 targets. On-Board computer Argon-K selects the four most important, which simultaneously are engaged by four air-to-air long-range R-33S missiles. Thermal radar is interfaced radar and is designed for passive review of the airspace, and for the issuance of targeting R-40TD and R-60 TGS missiles.
Armament of the MiG-31M – SD includes six long-range R-33S and R-37, mounted under the fuselage by two in three rows, as well as four types of medium-range R-77 missiles under the wing. The gun mount is abolished.
The basic differences between earlier versions and the МiG-31BM (1998): really this is a small AWACS airplane. Onboard equipment provides interaction with anti-aircraft missile defense complexes and the use of aircraft as an air command post to coordinate the actions of other types of fighters.
The flight-navigation equipment of the MiG-31 includes a system of automatic control system SAU-155МP and sighting-navigation complex KN-25 with two inertial systems and IP-1-72A with digital computer «Maneuver», electronic range navigation system «Radical» NP (312) or A-331, electronic system of the far – navigation A-723. Distant radio navigation is carried out by means of two systems: «tropic» (similar to the system of «Laurent») and «Route» (similar to the system of «omega») can detect targets at a distance of up to 320 kilometers and hit them at a distance of 280 kilometers.
Additional Wed-tion is detection of air targets teplopelengator 8TP (detection range – up to 50 km, the horizontal field of view ± 60°). The MiG-31 is equipped with sr-you ECM radar and infrared ranges. Interceptor MiG-31 is capable of performing combat tasks.
The MiG-31 was equipped with RK-RLDN and APD-518 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 (124 mi) from each other. It also enables other aircraft with less sophisticated avionics, such as MiG-23,25,29/Su-15, -27 to be directed to targets spotted by MiG-31 (a maximum of 4 (long-range) for each MiG-31 aircraft). Similarly complex S-300 aircraft with a group of APD-518 can: share data obtained by various radars from different directions (active or passive scanning radiation) and summarize the data. That is, the target can be detected by passively (through noise posed to protect themselves / active search radar (target)) and (or) the active simultaneously from many different directions (active search radar MiG-31). And every aircraft has APD-518 with exact data, even if it is not involved in the search.
Arming – 4 long-range missiles + 4 short-range/medium-range missiles (including R-77 medium-range).
Interacting with ground-based automated digital control system (ACS «Rubezh» Operating radius of 2000 km, can control multiple groups of planes), operating modes 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).
The MiG-31 was the world’s only serial fighter equipped with phased array radar until 2000.
The MiG-31Ms were built in the Gorkii factory. The first airframe was for static test, and the first flying prototype was thus the second airframe, coded ‘Blue 052’. It made its maiden flight on 21 December 1985 but crashed before it could be fitted with its radar, and was replaced by the rebuilt aircraft originally produced to test modifications designed by Gorkii’s own engineers. All of the MiG-31M prototypes differed from each other in detail, but looked almost identical. The exception was ‘Blue 057’, the seventh and final MiG-31M. This aircraft incorporated a pair of fixed wingtip ECM/ESM pods, with triangular upper and lower finlets. The MiG-31M had the misfortune of being born at the wrong time, when defence budgets were being slashed.