The Russian Fighter-Bomber Telegram channel recently posted a chilling video. It showed an unfortunate moment when a MiG-31 “Foxhound” caught fire and cratered to the ground. We don’t know when this happened, but it was likely before Russia invaded Ukraine in ’22.
The MiG-31’s wingman captured gut-wrenching footage of the plane engulfed in flames, with its landing gear down. In no time, the crew jettisoned into oblivion while the aircraft crashed down a hill. The spectacle conjured up memories of another similar incident in Russia’s Murmansk region two months ago though this episode seemed to be quite exclusive–there was no second plane to film it and the ground below was still blanketed in snow.
These recent crashes are just a few among several MiG-31 accidents that have taken place in both Russian and Kazakh service in recent years. The MiG-31, introduced in 1981 as an evolution of the MiG-25 “Foxbat,” served in the Soviet Voyska PVO air defense forces. Renowned for its long-range radar-guided missiles, the MiG-31 has undergone modifications to carry Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles and has played a significant role in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The causes behind these MiG-31 crashes remain under investigation. However, the repeated occurrences of onboard engine fires suggest a potential issue with the aircraft’s engine systems or maintenance practices. It is imperative for the Russian Air Force and other operators of the MiG-31 to thoroughly examine these incidents to ensure the safety of their pilots and address any underlying technical concerns.
While these crashes are undoubtedly tragic, they serve as a reminder of the inherent risks associated with military aviation. The bravery and skill of the pilots who ejected in these emergencies should not be overlooked, as their quick actions likely saved their lives. The MiG-31, despite its notable combat capabilities, must be operated with utmost caution and undergo regular maintenance to prevent further accidents and safeguard the lives of its crews.