Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’

Aircraft Profile
MiG-31 Foxhound, circa 1997, on approach.
(photo, via Igor Krasnoselski)


The Mikoyan MiG-31 is a long-range high-performance interceptor which was developed to replace the MiG-25 in the Soviet Air Defence Force (PVO). Clearly a derivative of the rather crude-looking MiG-25, the high speed and very powerful radar of the MiG-31 make it a formidable interceptor.

Developed to counter the XB-70 Valkyrie bomber, the MiG-25 Foxbat functioned well as a high-altitude interceptor with the help of Ground Control, but it was equipped with only limited avionics. From the late 1960s, bombers in Western air forces had started to switch to low-altitude attack profiles, to avoid the ever increasing anti-aircraft missile threat, and they also started carrying early forms of cruise missile. In countering low flying aircraft the MiG-25 performed quite poorly. The Soviet Air Defence Force therefore required a new interceptor which could operate well at high and low altitudes, and which was also capable of intercepting cruise missiles. This new aircraft was the MiG-31.

It was decided to make the MiG-31 a two-seater, so that it would not be dependent upon direct help from Ground Control. Given an approximate initial location of the intruder, the back-seater would guide the pilot to the target. However, it was also planned that the MiG-31 could operate semi-automatically, being directed towards a target by the AK-RLDN ground-based automatic guidance network, using the aircraft’s APD-518 digital datalink and BAN-75 command link.

Development of the the MiG-25’s replacement began with the Ye-155MP development machine, which first flew on 16 September 1975. In appearance the Ye-155MP looked very much like a stretched MiG-25, with a longer fuselage for the additional rear cockpit and a new wing. While the MiG-25 Foxbat was mostly made out of Nickel Steel, (some 80% of the structure), the Ye-155MP used much more titanium and aluminum. The reduced structure weight gave the Ye-155MP much better performance than the Foxbat. The first information the West knew for sure about the new aircraft came from Victor Ivonovich Belenko, a pilot with the 513th Fighter Regiment of Soviet Air Defence Command based in Sakharauka, Siberia. He defected to Hakodate, Japan, in his MiG-25 in September 1976 and was debriefed about the Ye-155MP. He described it as a “super Foxbat”.

Production of the Ye-155MP began in 1979 under the designation MiG-31 and it entered service in 1981. NATO allocated the reporting codename ‘Foxhound’ to the type in mid-1982. About 500 MiG-31 of all variants were build, and about 300 are still in service with the Russian air force and 30-40 with Kazakhstan. In 1992 China reached agreement with the Russian Federation to buy 24 MiG-31s, to be assembled in a new factory in Shenyang, but the contract was never signed.

The Foxhound is a large twin-engined aircraft with side-mounted air intakes, a shoulder mounted wing and twin vertical tailfins. Unlike the Foxbat it has a two-seat cockpit. The airframe of the Foxhound is stressed to withstand 5g, while that of th MiG-25 was only capable of withstanding 4.5g. The Soloviev D-30F6 turbofan engines of the MiG-31 enable speeds of up to Mach 1.23 at low altitude and Mach 2.83 at high altitude. The Foxhound is more fuel efficient than the MiG-25 but it still need a lot of fuel – much of the centre fuselage and wing structure is taken up with fuel tanks. Later production aircraft have aerial refuelling capability.

MiG-31 was the world’s first operational aircraft to use a Phased Array radar – i.e. it scans electronically rather than by moving the radar antennae physically. The Zaslon S-800 radar can track fighter-sized aircraft from 125 miles away and bigger aircraft from 250 miles away. It is claimed that several Foxhounds can link their radars and thereby simultaneously scan a much larger amount of airspace. The MiG-31 is also the first Soviet aircraft to have true “look down, shoot down” capability – essentially for intercepting low flying bombers and cruise missiles.

The crew of the Foxhound sit in Zvezda K-36DM “zero-zero” (zero speed, zero altitude) ejection seats which have built-in massage pads to keep the crew more comfortable on long patrol missions! Another unusual feature is the way that the twin wheels on each of the main landing gear units are offset left and right from each other, so that they do not run in the same track.

The Foxhound’s main weapon is the Vympel R-33 long range air-to-air missile. It can be guided in semi-active radar-homing mode or launched in internal guidance mode with the option of a mid-course update from the launch aircraft. The Foxhound can also use the R-40 long range missile or the R-60 and R-73 missiles. It also has an internal cannon, the six-barrel GSh-6-23 with 260 rounds.

Several developments of the MiG-31 have been produced. The MiG-31M is an improved version of the original MiG-31 with a new radar and is capable of carrying the advanced R-37 and R-77 missiles. The cockpit has been redesigned and now features 3 multi-functional displays. The MiG-31M also has larger fuel tanks, upgraded engines and more refined aerodynamics. The MiG-31D version was designed to carry an ASAT (anti-satellite) missile. The MiG-31B was an improved version of the original with a better computer and in-flight refueling and also a new radar. The MiG-31BM is a variant with some ground attack capability. The MiG-31FE was a multi-purpose version capable of carrying most Russian air-to-ground weapons.


Requirement Specification: ?
Manufacturers Designation: Izdelye 01, Izdelye 05, Izdelye 07 (see below)

Development History:
Ye-155MP projects Three alternative configurations explored: swing-wing aircraft, Ye-158 tailless delta and Izdelye 518-55 two-seat MiG-25 with new wing. Latter developed into Ye-155MP.
Ye-155MP MiG-31 prototype based on the Ye-155M advanced MiG-25 test aircraft. No wing root extensions. [MiG-25MP, Izdelye 83]
Ye-155MF Projected variant with side-by-side cockpit dedicated to SEAD (anti-SAM) role.
MiG-31 ‘Foxhound-A’ First production interceptor model. [Izdelye 01]
MiG-31LL One early MiG-31 converted as dedicated test aircraft with fairings for cameras on wingtips.
MiG-31DZ ‘Foxhound-A’ Unofficial designation for slightly improved MiG-31 production version with in-flight refuelling (IFR) probe installed to port of front cockpit. [Izdelye 01DZ]
MiG-31B ‘Foxhound-A’ Improved interceptor model with in-flight refueling capability, Zaslon-A radar, an updated navigation system, and compatibility with the R-33S missile [Izdelye 01B, Izdelye 12]
MiG-31BS ‘Foxhound-A’ Original MiG-31 models upgraded to the MiG-31B standard. [Izdelye 01BS]
MiG-31E Proposed export model; 1 prototype built but production then cancelled. [Izdelye 01BE]
MiG-31M ‘Foxhound-B’ Significantly improved production interceptor with cockpit enhancements, refined aerodynamics, IFR probe moved to starboard side, uprated D-30F-6M engines, increased fuel capacity, improved Zaslon-M radar, two additional weapons hardpoints under fuselage, and the ability to carry the improved R-37/AA-9 missile; 7 prototypes were built but further development appears to have have halted due to funding cuts. [Izdelye 05]
MiG-31D Anti-satellite interceptor designed to carry single large anti-satellite missile under fuselage. Large triangular endplate fins on wing tips. 2 prototypes built but production cancelled. [Izdelye 07]
MiG-31BM Proposed upgrade program to add a surface-attack capability to MiG-31 interceptor models, includes radar upgrades for ground mapping and better resolution plus the ability to carry advanced air-to-surface missiles like the Kh-31, Kh-59, Kh-59M, and Kh-29T/L as well as more capable air-to-air missiles. 1 prototype converted by 1999.
MiG-31FE Proposed multi-role export version of the MiG-31BM. Adapted for delivery of air-to-surface weapons.
MiG-31S Projected launch vehicle for small space vehicles.
MiG-31B development aircraft with 4 R-33 and
2 R-40 missiles. (Photo, MiG RAC)
MiG-31BM with underwing Kh-58 anti-radar missiles. (Photo, M. Wagner/aviation-images.com)


Key Dates:
24 May 1968    Government directive to start work on MiG-25 replacement.
1972    Detailed design of the MiG-31 begins.
16 September 1975    Ye-155MP first flight.
September 1976    Defecting Soviet MiG-25 pilot tells the West of advanced MiG-25 in development.
December 1976    First pre-production MiG-31 built.
15 February 1978    Zaslan radar tracks 10 targets simultaneously from a MiG-31 at 5000 m altitude.
6 May 1981    MiG-31 officially commissioned into service with PVO.
1983    Initial Operational Capability achieved by first MiG-31 unit.
21 December 1985    First flight of MiG-31M.
1986    First flight of MiG-31D satellite interceptor.
1990    MiG-31B replaces MiG-31 on production line.
October 1993    First successful launch of a R-37 missile from MiG-31M.
April 1994    Last production aircraft delivered.
25 October 1999    MiG-31B officially commissioned.


Military Operators

Kazakhstan – Air Force (MiG-31)
Russia – Air Defence Force (PVO)* (MiG-31/31B/31BM)

Government Agencies


Civilian Operators


* later amalgamated into the Tactical Air Force as the VVS.

MiG-31E taking-off at the MAKS-2001 air show
(Photo, MiG RAC)
MiG-31 demonstrator during it’s landing roll.
(Photo, MiG RAC)


Mikoyan MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’
Crew: 1 pilot and 1 navigator/weapons officer
Dimensions: Length 74 ft 6 ins (22.69 m); Height 20 ft 2 in (6.15 m); Wing Span 44 ft 4 in (13.46 m); Wing Area 663 ft2 (61.6 m2)
Engines: Two Aviadvigatel D-30F6 afterburning turbofans rated at 20,944 lb (93.19 kN) dry and 34,171 lb st (152.06 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty 48,115 lb (21,825 kg); Normal Take-off 90,388 lb (41,000 kg) ; Maximum Take-off 101,851 lb (46,200 kg)
Armament: One 23-mm GSh-6-23 cannon scabbed onto the rear fuselage just behind starboard main landing gear with 260 rounds (not fitted to MiG-31M), four underwing hardpoints and four under-fuselage hardpoints (six under-fuselage hardpoints on MiG-31). Typical loadout includes four R-33/AA-9 ‘Amos’ and two R-40/AA-6 ‘Acrid’ or four R-60/AA-8 ‘Aphid’, while the MiG-31M usually carries six R-37/AA-9 ‘Amos’ and four R-77/AA-12 ‘Adder’.
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ Mach 2.83 – 1,865 mph (1620 kts, 3000 km/h) – at 57,400 ft (17,500 m), Mach 1.25 – 932 mph (810 kts, 1500 km/h) – at sea level; Time to climb to 32,810 ft (10,000 m) 7 mins 45 secs; Service ceiling 67,585 ft (20,600 m); Ferry range 1,780 nm, (2050 mls, 3300 km), Mach 0.85 combat radius 648 nm (745 mls, 1200 km) unrefuelled, Mach 2.35 combat radius 388 nm, (447 mls, 720 km) unrefuelled.
MiG-31 demonstrator at the Farnborough 1992
air show. (Photo, John Hayles)
A view of the unusual main landing gear.
(Photo, John Hayles)


Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Gleb Lozino-Lozinski, later Konstantin Vasilchenko, now Anatoli Belosvet
Design Office: Mikoyan Design Bureau Engineering Centre, 6 Leningradskoe shosse, 1252999 Moscow


IGAZ Sokol
(IGAZ Sokol, Gorky**)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Ye-155MP 2 MiG OKB, Moscow 1972-1976
MiG-31 280 Gorky 1977-1989
MiG-31DZ 45 Gorky 1990-1991
MiG-31B 162? Gorky 1990-April 1994
MiG-31E 1+ Gorky 19??
MiG-31M 7 Gorky 1985-1995
MiG-31D 2 Gorky 1987
MiG-31FE 1 Gorky 19??-19??
Total: 500    

** now called Nizhny Novgorod.

Total Produced: 500 a/c

Production List

To be added.

MiG-31 at Farnborough 1992.
(photo, Anthony Noble)

More Information


‘Mikoyan MiG-31 – Famous Russian Aircraft’ [Order this book from Polygon]
by Yefim Gordon
Published by Polygon Press, Russia, 2003? ISBN: ?
* English text detailed monograph on the MiG-31.

‘Mikoyan MiG-31 Soviet Interceptor Fighter’ [Order this book from Aviapress.com]
Published by Tornado Publishing, Russia, 2002? ISBN: ?
* Russian text detailed monograph on the MiG-31.

‘Flight International World Aircraft and Systems Directory – Third Edition’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Micheal J H Taylor
Published by Reed Business Information Ltd, 2002 ISBN: 0 617 01289 X
* Includes a detailed description of the MiG-31.

‘MiG-25 “Foxbat” MiG-31 “Foxhound” Russia’s defensive front line – Aerofax’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Yefim Gordon
Published by Midland Publishing, Jan 1998 ISBN: 1 8578 00648
* Detailed coverage of the MiG-25, but not so good on the MiG-31.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 13’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, summer 1993 ISBN: 1 874023 17 4
* Includes 16-page feature on the MiG-31.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 34’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, autumn 1998 ISBN: 1 86184 019 5
* Includes ‘Variant Briefing’ feature on the MiG-25 & MiG-31.


‘Mir Aviatsii’ N3 1999
* Russian text feature article.
‘Krylja Rodiny’ N2 2002
* Russian text feature article.


Mikoyan MiG-25 “Foxbat” / MiG-31 “Foxhound”
(4 pages of MiG-31 photos)

MiG-31 Foxhound
(History, photos, variants, description and specification)

AXLs Plane Gallery
(24 MiG-31 photos)

Linden Hill Imports
(Lots of good close-up photos of MiG-31 details)

(35 MiG-31 photos)

RAC MIkoyan MiG-31
(7 pages of MiG-31 photos)

MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’ Interceptor in Pictures
(Photos of MiG-31s taken by NATO intercepting aircraft)

MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’
(Milavia: background, history, specs, photos, links, books)

“Sokol” Nizhny Novgorod Aircraft Building Plant JSC
(Outline history + products of ‘Sokol’ factory)

Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-31 Foxhound
(Versions, features, armament, spec, photos)

MiG-31 Foxhound
(‘MiG Design Bureau’ – detailed MiG-31 profile: history, variants, specs, excellent photos etc)

Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-31 Foxhound
(1 page of walk-around detail photos)

MiG-31 Foxhound
(Well-written profile of the MiG-31)

MiG-31 Foxhound (Mikoyan Gurevitch)
(Description, specification and some photos)

Mikoyan MiG-31
(Wikipedia entry for MiG-31)


Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
See the ‘Mir Aviatsii’ magazine listed above.


To be added.