On April 26, the Russian Armed Forces lost their fourth MiG-31 fighter in almost a year. The two crew members were able to eject. While the cause of this incident is not yet known, the aircraft was seen and filmed on fire shortly before it crashed.
Crash in Murmansk
On April 26, a Russian MiG-31 Foxhound fighter jet crashed north of Murmansk, Russia. The crew had time to eject and is reportedly safe. The crash site was located on the Imandra lake (Murmansk oblast, Russia). The lake was frozen but the plane broke through the ice leaving only a few pieces of debris on the surface. The Russian Navy dispatched a Ka-27 Helix helicopter to the crash site. If the cause of the crash is not yet known, videos (tweet below) allow to confirm that the plane was on fire before crashing.
It should be noted that over a little more than a year, the Russian Aerospace Forces still lost three MiG-31s for reasons in no way related to possible fighting in Ukraine:
- April 8, 2022 in the Leningrad region
- October 1, 2022, a MiG-31 crashed while taking off from its Belbek (Crimea) airbase
- December 2, 2022, another MiG-31 crashed in the Primorie Krai (southeastern Russia)
Also to be added to the list is an incident from a little further back: On April 26, 2017, a MiG-31 fired an R-33 (AA-9 Amos) long-range air-to-air missile at another Russian MiG-31 during an exercise.
A little more than 120 Russian Foxhounds are reportedly currently in service with the Aerospace and Naval Forces. However, the last four crashes raise questions about their condition. Moreover, apart from the Tu-22M3 bomber, the MiG-31 in its K version is specially designed to carry the hypersonic air-to-ground Kh-47M2 Kinjal (Killjoy) missile. The poor condition of this fleet would mean the loss of a means to project this missile for the Russian Armed Forces.
As a reminder, the MiG-31 entered service in 1981 and is among the fastest military aircraft in the world, with a top speed of Mach 2.83 (MiG-31B). It has undergone several modernizations and is only used for interception missions, apart from a few MiG-31Ks used for attack missions via the Kinjal carry.
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