A Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 Foxhound fighter jet crashed in the Murmansk Oblast which borders Finland, now a member of NATO, on April 26, 2023.
The aircraft likely took off from Monchegorsk Air Base, which houses the 98th Composite Aviation Regiment operating on both MiG-31 and Su-24. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the MiG-31 was carrying out a routine training flight at the time of the incident.
The crash occurred 10 kilometers from the city of Monchegorsk with the jet crashing into Lake Imandra.. According to eyewitnesses, the aircraft pierced through the ice of the frozen lake, leaving only a few pieces of debris on the surface.
Video footage filmed from the ground confirmed that the aircraft was on fire before crashing.
The crew managed to eject. The Russian Navy dispatched a Kamov Ka-27 Helix helicopter to recover them. Details regarding the cause of the incident have not yet been reported.
It is the fourth accidental crash of a MiG-31 to take place since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- On April 8, 2022, a MiG-31 crashed during a training flight near Torkovichi, Leningrad region, Russia.
- On October 1, 2022, a MiG-31 crashed while landing at Belbek Air Base, Crimea.
- On December 2, 2022, a MiG-31 crashed in Primorsky Krai, in the Far East region of Russia.
Russia’s “saber-rattling” interceptor
Second only to the Mikoyan MiG-25 Foxbat in speed, the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound entered service as a supersonic interceptor in 1981. The maximum takeoff weight of 46 tons allows it to carry a substantial array of weapons that include the Vympel R-37M (or AA-13 Axehead for NATO), a hypersonic air-to-air missile with a range exceeding 300 kilometers (186 miles).
The latest iteration called the MiG-31BM features a modernized cockpit with new screens and a head-up display, a radar that improves the engagement distance to 280 kilometers (173 miles) for air and surface targets, and a canopy that can sustain higher speeds. Now able to reach a top speed exceeding Mach 2.8, it will be capable of intercepting fighter jets, cruise, and hypersonic missiles.
The MiG-31 was also used in the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, to counter the Ukrainian Air Force but also to target Ukrainian cities using the Kh-47 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.