ZHUKOVSKY, August 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors will stay in service until “at least 2028” or possibly five or 10 years more, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Friday.
“We are satisfied with this aircraft; it performs its functions wonderfully,” the general said, adding that as next-generation long-range missiles and aircraft are developed, interception functions could be assigned to newer warplanes as well.
Bondarev’s remarks seem to be a little bit at odds with his comments in April, when he said the Air Force hoped to receive a new long-range fighter-interceptor by 2020 and retire its existing fleet of MiG-31s by 2028. He also spoke out against restarting production of the MiG-31, which was discontinued two decades ago, saying the country needed a totally new interceptor to meet modern requirements.
The Russian Air Force has 122 MiG-31 interceptors in service and more aircraft in reserve, the general said at the time.
The MiG-31, the fastest fighter-interceptor in service anywhere in the world, has recently been the subject of a comprehensive upgrade to the MiG-31BM standard. The Russian Air Force has previously said it intends to take delivery of up to 60 MiG-31BMs by 2020, under a contract signed with United Aircraft Corporation in 2011.