Russia is testing its nation’s aerospace defense capabilities and launching the super interceptor MiG-31 Foxhound to do so. The fighters, “in conjunction with A-50 airborne warning and control system aircraft, are performing continuous missions to protect the airspace, including from cruise missile strikes,” the ministry said in a statement. The aircraft are to be refueled while still in the air. The three-day exercise, in which the fighters will fend off aerospace attacks, is part of a series of random checks of the Russian armed forces that began in February. It involves Air Force units from the Western Military District, General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov said during a teleconference, adding that the upcoming maneuver had been ordered by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. A total of 8,700 personnel, 185 warplanes and 240 armored vehicles are participating in the checks, overseen by Col. Gen. Vladimir Zarudnitsky. The checks include missile launches at the Ashuluk test range in Astrakhan, Zarudnitsky said. This is a major operation designed to check defense response, and will also show the rest of the world where Russian power is at a very troubled time, especially when Russia is selling arms to Irak and Syria. The MiG-31 is a supersonic interceptor aircraft developed to replace the MiG-25 “Foxbat”. The MiG-31 was designed by the Mikoyan design bureau based on the MiG-25. Like the MiG-25, MiG-31 is a large twin-engine aircraft with side-mounted air intakes, a shoulder-mounted wing with an aspect ratio of 2.94, and twin vertical tailfins. Unlike the MiG-25, it has two seats, with the rear occupied by a dedicated weapon systems officer. Our friends in Russia were operating the MiG-31 for fun rides a few years back, but they had to stop as it was too expensive. Instead, they are using now the MiG-29 which is more fuel efficient, and also has a large canopy which offers a greater view. If you are interested in flying such aircraft, check our specialized page: http://www.flyajetfighter.com/fly-the-mig-29-fulcrum/

Russia’s fifth-generation stealth jet fighter, the T-50, will start state flight tests in March 2013, Russia’s Air Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said on Sunday. Currently three fighter jets are performing test flights at the Zhukovsky airfield outside Moscow, the fourth plane is undergoing factory test trials and the fifth plane is in the process of factory approvals, the commander said. All these planes will fly to Akhtubinsk in the Astrakhan Region in March next year where “state tests will begin,” he said. There will be a total of eight planes involved in state trials in Akhtubinsk throughout 2013, the commander said. “We’ll complete them [the tests] within 2-2.5 years and somewhere in 2015-early 2016 these planes are expected to go into serial production and we’ll start receiving them and supplying our combat units with them,” the commander said. The Sukhoi aircraft company, the T-50 maker, announced last week that Russia’s fourth prototype Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter jet took to the skies for the first time in a 40 minute flight at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur factory in Siberia. The T-50, also known as project PAK-FA, first flew in January 2010 and was first publicly revealed at the Moscow Air Show in 2011. The T-50, which will be the core of Russia’s future fighter fleet, is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft featuring low-observable technology (stealth), super-maneuverability, supercruise capability (supersonic flight without use of afterburner), and an advanced avionics suite including an X-band active phased-array radar. The Russian Defense Ministry plans to purchase a first batch of 10 evaluation aircraft and then 60 production-standard aircraft after 2015.

Despite being on same side for a very long time, Mikoyan Gurevitch and Sukhoi have become competitors due to free market. The changing economic conditions have transformed the way these two units function. These last years, Sukhoi has been gaining more markets than MiG, and the net result has been announced just over the weekend: Russia’s aircraft making corporation MiG is a loss-making enterprise, parliamentary defense committee head Vladimir Komoyedov said on Thursday. “MiG Corporation has been a loss-making enterprise in recent years. The less than optimal distribution of manufacturing infrastructure causes some concern,” he said. The Defense Ministry has been reducing the share of MiG aircraft, which used to be the core of fighter aviation in the USSR, he said. A press handout distributed ahead of the committee meeting said MiG has completed modernization of the first six MiG-29 UPG fighter jets for the Indian Air Force, under a contract signed in March 2008. It also said MiG Corp. has more than 100 standing contracts with 20 countries worth more than $6 billion. MiG was formerly a Soviet design bureau, and was founded by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich as “Mikoyan and Gurevich”, with the bureau prefix “MiG.” Upon Mikoyan’s death in 1970, Gurevich’s name was dropped from the name of the bureau, although the bureau prefix remained “MiG”. MiG aircraft are a staple of the Soviet and Russian air forces, and the Soviet Union sold many of these planes within its sphere of influence. They have been used by the Chinese, North Korean, and North Vietnamese in aerial confrontations with American and allied forces, and form part of the air forces of many Arab nations. Recently had been reported that MiG jet fighters are being used by the Government forces of Syria against insurgents in civil neighborhoods in Aleppo. In 2006, the Russian government merged 100% of Mikoyan shares with Ilyushin, Irkut, Sukhoi, Tupolev, and Yakovlev as a new company named United Aircraft Corporation. Specifically, Mikoyan and Sukhoi were placed within the same operating unit. Therefore the final risk for the loss making unit is simply to be shut down, with engineers joining the same design bureau. With flyfighterjet.org