THE MIKOYAN MiG-31M "Foxhound B" heavy interceptor was openly displayed for the first time at the show, with MiG-MAPO and its radar developer NIIP claiming that the Vympel R-77 (AA-12 Adder) active medium-range missile has been fully integrated with the aircraft.

Despite the MiG-31M debut, its primary armament - the Vympel R-37 active-radar long-range missile - was not displayed. The aircraft's fuselage weapons stations remained empty.

Although pictures showing a MiG-31M carrying the R-77 were released following an exhibition for senior Russian military at Minsk in 1992, it is unclear whether the Adder was really intended for use with the aircraft.

Alfred Fedotchenko, chief designer at NIIP and the designer of the Zaslon and Zaslon-M phased-array radars for the MiG-31 and MiG-31M, respectively, confirms that integration work with the R-77 has been carried out.

"Zaslon M can deal with this," he says, " the radar work has been done. It works perfectly." His view was echoed by Yuriy Polushkin, a chief designer with MiG-MAPO.

Polushikin remains confident that, despite its long gestation period (the programme began over a decade ago), the MiG-31M will find its way into service. He cautions, however, that any order "... may be in small numbers".

Besides being equipped with the active R-37 missile, rather than the semi-active R-33 (Amos), the MiG-31M also fields a significantly improved radar, according to Fedotchenko.

He says that in terms of overall performance, the Zaslon M offers between 150-200% improvement over the original system.

The "working range" is extended, while the radar also provides a genuine "multi-function capability".


Source: Flight International