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Friday, November 03, 2006

Russia plans complete overhaul of MiG-31 interceptor fleet

MOSCOW (Ria Novosti): Russia plans to modernize its MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor aircraft, which have been in service for 25 years, the air force commander said Thursday.

The modernized interceptor will feature unique air-to-air missiles capable of hitting targets at ranges exceeding 200 kilometers (125 miles), including aircraft with stealth capabilities, cruise missiles, and supersonic aircraft, Army General Vladimir Mikhailov said.

"Modernization of the fleet of MiG-31 interceptors will significantly increase the combat capabilities of the air defense, especially over remote areas of northern Russia, Siberia and the Far East, where air defense contingents have been sharply reduced since the 1990s," Mikhailov said.

The MiG-31 modernization and overhaul program will be implemented at the Sokol aircraft plant in Nizhny Novgorod, in Central Russia.

Mikhailov said the modernized supersonic interceptor will become a formidable rival to all fifth-generation fighters, due to enhanced radar detection and tracking capabilities, and a wide array of advanced weaponry.

According to various sources, about 500 MiG-31s have been produced since serial production began in 1978, approximately 370 of which remain in service within the Russian Air Force. After modernization, the interceptors are expected to serve until 2015.
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