Russia has started executing a contract for the delivery of five MiG-31 fighter jets to Syria. The contract has been signed by Russia’s defense export enterprise Rosoboronexport this year. Therefore, Russia resumes arms shipments to the Middle East after a short break caused with last-year’s war in Lebanon.
The serial production of Mig-31 fighter jets was shut down in 1994. “We offer MiG-31 as a trade-in to the countries that have MiG-25 jets in their defense arsenal,” a spokesman for MiG enterprise Vladimir Vypryazhkin said. “Only Syria and Lebanon have MiG-25 fighter jets in their disposal,” he added.
Syria also purchased a batch of MiG-29M/M2. This jet, which Russia exports for the first time, is comparable to MiG-35, which Russia currently offers to India.
The overall cost of MiG-31 and MiG-29M/M2 contracts with Syria is evaluated at one billion dollars.
Russia’s defense contract with Syria has already raised quite a number of questions. Specialists say that Syria cannot afford such expensive military acquisitions. They believe that Syria may probably be purchasing the planes for Iran, the Kommersant newspaper wrote.
Last year Moscow and Damascus signed a contract to deliver 36 Pantsir-S1 missile complexes. Jane’s Defence Weekly, a respectable British magazine, wrote in May of the current year that Syria was going to sell at least ten of those systems to Iran before the end of 2008. Iran reportedly sponsors the deal and pays Syria’s mediation services, the magazine said.
Indeed, Syria and Iran cooperate on a number of mutual defense agreements. The strategic alliance between Iran and Syria was formed in the 1980s, during the Iranian-Iraqi war.
Mig-31 - reference by Wikipedia
Mig-31 is a supersonic interceptor aircraft developed to replace the MiG-25 'Foxbat'. Designed by the Mikoyan design bureau, the MiG-31 was the most advanced interceptor fielded by the Soviet Union before its dissolution.
The MiG-25 'Foxbat', despite Western panic about its tremendous speed, made substantial design sacrifices in capability for the sake of achieving high speed, altitude, and rate of climb. It lacked maneuverability at interception speeds, was difficult to fly at low altitudes, and its thirsty turbojet engines resulted in a very short combat range at supersonic speeds. The MiG-25's turbojet engines also had to be exchanged after a flight in which its maximum speed of Mach 3 had been achieved.
The wings and airframe of the MiG-31 are stronger than those of the MiG-25, permitting supersonic flight at low altitudes. Its Soloviev D-30F6 turbofans (also described as "bypass turbojets" due to the low bypass ratio) allow a maximum speed of Mach 1.23 at low altitude. High-altitude speed is temperature-redlined to Mach 2.83 — the thrust-to-drag ratio is sufficient for speeds in excess of Mach 3, but such speeds pose unacceptable hazards to engine and airframe life in routine use.
The MiG-31 was the world's first operational fighter with a passive electronically scanned array radar, the Zaslon S-800. Its maximum range against fighter-sized targets is approximately 200 km (125 mi), and it can track up to 10 targets and simultaneously attack four of them with its AA-9 'Amos' missiles. It is claimed to have limited astern coverage (perhaps the reason for the radome-like protuberance above and between the engines). The radar is matched with an infrared search and tracking (IRST) system in a retractable undernose fairing. Up to four MiG-31s, spaced up to 200 km (125 mi) apart to cover a wide swath of territory, can coordinate via datalink. The radar is controlled by the back-seater, whose cockpit has only two small vision ports on the sides of the canopy.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov