Russia to deploy anti-satellite weapon on MiG-31BM
Alexander Zudin, London – IHS Jane’s Missiles & Rockets
23 February 2017
- Initiative indicates a potential revival of the Soviet-era Kontakt programme
- MiG-31BM platform suggests a large missile that is likely to be launched from high altitude
Russia’s Aerospace Forces (VKF) is to deploy an anti-satellite weapon on its MiG-31BM interceptor aircraft, a VKF squadron commander has told local media.
“A new missile is being developed for this aircraft capable of destroying targets in near-space,” VKF squadron commander Yegeny Polyakov, based at Khotilovo (Tver Region), told the Defence Ministry’s Zvezda TV.
Asked if this included satellites, he replied “”Satellites, for sure, and other means of aerial attack which might be found there.”
Original post janes.com
Vympel 79M6 missile
The aircraft carrier MiG-31D aircraft number 072 and 79M6 missile (left) at the Sary-Shagan. Source авиару.рфRocket 79M6 “Contact” under the MiG-31D. Drawing. Source авиару.рф
In accordance with the Protocol to the START Treaty, “the term ‘heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments’ means a heavy bomber equipped for long-range nuclear ALCMs, nuclear air-to-surface missiles, or nuclear bombs.” Inasmuch as the Tu-22M3 is not a heavy bomber, it will not be considered a heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments when armed with air-to-surface ballistic missiles. That said, the START Treaty imposes no restrictions on the number of deployed and non-deployed bombers which are not heavy bombers. The Treaty envisages a count of warheads only for deployed heavy bombers. Thus, Tu-22M3 bombers and the warheads of ballistic missiles accommodated on them will not be counted in the cumulative number of warheads as well as of deployed and non-deployed platforms limited by the START Treaty. The MiG-31 aircraft can be another possible platform for an intermediate-range ballistic missile. The Kontakt air-launched antisatellite missile complex was being developed in the 1980s based on this fighter. The complex included the MiG-31D platform aircraft (developer OKB [Experimental Design Bureau] imeni Mikoyan) and 79M6 Kontakt missile (developer OKB Fakel). Flight development tests of the platform aircraft had been completed by the beginning of the 1990s. Work on the complex was halted in view of the termination of funding.
In the 1990s OKB imeni Mikoyan and OKB Vympel were developing a system based on the MiG-31 fighter for inserting satellites with the RN-S rocket. At the same time, a group of Moscow Aviation Institute scientists supported by specialists of OKB imeni Mikoyan were considering an option for using the MiG-31 platform aircraft for air launch of the Mikron rocket. The rocket, with a launch weight of 7 tonnes, length of 7.25 m, and width with control surfaces of 3.7 m, was to insert payloads weighing 150-200 kg into orbits 250-300 km high.
From 2005 through 2007 the Ishim air-launched rocket complex designed to insert payloads into space was being developed based on the MiG-31D fighter. Lead developer of the platform aircraft was RSK [Russian Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation] MiG, and developer of the missile was the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology. A three-stage rocket with a launch weight of 10.3 tonnes, length of 10.76 m, and airframe diameter of 1.34 m was to be accommodated on a MiG-31I platform aircraft. Rocket launch was to be from an altitude of 15-18 km at a platform aircraft flight speed of 2,120-2,230 km/hr.
Considering studies on the Ishim complex, it is possible to use the modernized MiG-31 as a delivery vehicle of an IRBM with a launch weight up to 10 tonnes. The missile complex with IRBM will have a high level of survivability in view of the aircraft’s high speed of departing from the airfield on receiving a missile attack warning signal. The MiG-31 fighter equipped with an IRBM will not meet a single one of the criteria of a heavy bomber, and accordingly the quantitative limitations of the START Treaty in force will not extend to this aircraft and to the ballistic missiles and their warheads accommodated on it. The missile complex with air-launched IRBM can be employed to perform the nuclear deterrence mission on the European, Eastern, and Southern strategic axes without the air platform leaving Russian airspace. Due to the air platform’s flight range, such a complex can exercise nuclear deterrence on several strategic axes simultaneously. Missile complexes with ground-based IRBMs do not have such capabilities. The air-launched IRBM can be standardized with missiles intended for operational insertion of satellites and for satellite intercept. One option permitting a cost reduction and decreased time periods for development of the intermediate-range missile complex is to create a ballistic missile using elements of the existing Iskander-M operational-tactical ballistic missile.
Thus, at the present time there is the technical capability for creating and deploying air-launched IRBMs outside of bans and quantitative limitations of the INF and START treaties in force. The advisability of realizing this new direction for upgrading nuclear forces must be predicated upon a comparative military-economic estimate with other options for maintaining strategic balance. Source fortunascorner.com