The Russian Defence Ministry has signed a contract with United Aircraft to upgrade more than 60 MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor aircraft to the MiG-31BM version, Russian Air Force spokesman Vladimir Drik said.

The MiG-31 Foxhound, designed by Mikoyan design bureau, will be upgraded with avionics and digital datalinks, new multimode radar, colour multifunction cockpit displays and a new powerful computer.

The two-seat supersonic aircraft is powered by two D-30F6 turbofan two-shaft engines and is capable of carrying new air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles such as the AS-17 Krypton anti-radar missile.

The interceptor aircraft will also be capable of carrying the Vympel R-73 (AA-11 Archer), R-77 (AA-12 Adder), R-33S (upgraded AA-9 Amos) and the K-37M (AA-X-13 Arrow) air-to-air missiles.

The interceptors are also equipped with a common afterburner and a variable supersonic nozzle that enable the aircraft to fly at supersonic speeds of up to Mach 2.83.

The supersonic aircraft is designed to replace the Russian Air Force’s MiG-25 fighters and is used to prevent potential airborne threats including ballistic and cruise missiles.

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The aircraft is also capable of destroying high and low-altitude targets during day and night and can detect airborne targets at a range of 200 miles, as well as simultaneously track up to ten targets.

The heavy interceptor entered service with the Russian Air Force in 1982; since then very few MiG-31s have been modernised to the MiG-31BM version.

Currently, the air force operates around 300 MiG-25 fighters and the new upgrade contract delivery is scheduled for completion by 2020.