The successful consolidation of key parts of Russia’s aerospace industry into the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is more evident at this year’s Farnborough International Airshow then at any time since the group’s formation back in February 2006.
Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG and Aviadvigatel have confirmed that work continues on “radical modernization” of the MiG-31 Foxhound, with the focus on extending the performance of the aging, out-of-production Mach 3 interceptor so that it can carry out not only air-defense duties but also serve the recently established VKO, the Russian acronym for the country’s Air and Space Defense (Command). Under a directive from the Russian defense ministry, RAC MiG is working on new versions of the aircraft that are more capable than the current MiG-31BM.
“Imported avionics” are being installed into Russian air force aircraft in increasing quantities, “to ensure that our airframers satisfy our demanding requirements for their new and upgraded products,” said Russian air force commander Lt. Gen. Victor Bondarev at last week’s Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2013).
A debate has unfolded in Russia over whether to invest further in the MiG-31 series or to concentrate funding on the Sukhoi Su-35. United Aircraft’s Sokol factory in Nizhny Novgorod continues to deliver MiG-31BM multirole aircraft modified from MiG-31 interceptors built earlier. The plant’s general director, Alexander Karezin, reported that the company handed over 15 last year, and the plant “holds a firm order for about sixty MiG-31BMs due for delivery in 2011-2018.” He added, “This is a considerable contribution to the national defense of the country.”
The Russian defense ministry has decided to modernize the air force’s surviving MiG-25 spyplanes for service until 2020. The venerable aircraft will receive a modern navigation suite based on Glonass receivers and laser gyroscopes; digital photo and video cameras; and a new “radio-technical reconnaissance complex.” The latter will include a new side-looking radar for surface surveillance and various communications and electronic intelligence-gathering systems.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) finally awarded the Russian Aircraft Corporation a firm order for 24 MiG-29 carrier-capable fighters. MiG will deliver 20 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four MiG-29KUB two-seaters between 2013 and 2015. The Russian Navy stated its intention to introduce the MiG-29K two years ago, but the order was not confirmed until now.
Russian air force commander Gen Alexander Zelin told Russian media that a new air-to-air missile will be accepted into service shortly and “double the combat capability” of the MiG-31 interceptor. A Russian air force spokesman added that the service plans to modernize 60 aircraft to the MiG-31BM standard by 2020. The upgrade includes a new radar (believed to be the Zaslon-M capable of detecting up to 10 targets simultaneously at a range of up to 175 nm); new mission computer; and new color cockpit displays.