Russian MiG-31 aircraft

The Russian Air Force will soon deploy an advanced tactical air-to-air missile designed to enhance its operational effectiveness, Air Force commander colonel general Alexander Zelin has revealed.

RIA Novosti quoted Zelin as saying: ”The weapon is currently in trial at an air force test site. ”

Zelin did not reveal further details of the missile, but added that it will first be used by the MiG-31BM Foxhound supersonic interceptors/fighters and by other warplanes. However, experts believe that the missile in question could be the K-37M, a long-range air-to-air missile designed specifically for the MiG-31BM interceptor.

International Institute for Strategic Studies air warfare expert Douglas Barrie said: ”A likely candidate is the Vympel (now part of TRV) K-37M long-range air-to-air missile. This is a successor to the R-33, which was developed originally for the MiG-31 during the early 1970s.”

Developed under the MiG-31BM programme to update the Foxhound with a new radar and ground attack capability, the K-37 is a long-range air-to-air missile designed to shoot down AWACS and other enemy C4ISTAR aircraft. Barrie further stated that work on the K-37 programme commenced in 1980, but the project was delayed due to funding problems while its design underwent further developments since its original conception.

”The K-37M – it will likely be known as the R-37M when it enters service – will be the primary air-to-air armament of the MiG-31BM, providing the Russian Air Force with an extended range interception capability against combat aircraft and cruise missiles, ” Barrie added.

Image: The Russian Air Force MiG-3131BM Foxhound supersonic interceptor will be equipped with a new long-range air-to-air missile.