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Russia sends Mig-31 interceptors to the Arctic

Russia plans to base a group of supersonic interceptor Mig-31 aircraft on the Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya by the end of 2013. The planes’ mission is to defend Russia from air attacks from the north.

The Defense Ministry has not yet decided which Russian air base the planes will be transferred from.  It could be a group from the base in Monchegorsk on the Kola Peninsula or from Kansk in Krasnoyarsk Krai. Russia has some 100 Mig-31 planes in flying condition. 

“The squadron will be the main element of Russia’s developing anti- missile defense system”, a military source says to Izvestiya. “The Mig-31 is able to intercept not only the enemy’s attack planes, but also cruise missiles with nuclear war heads from the Barents Sea to the Laptev Sea”, he explains. 

According to Izvestia’s source the infrastructure at the abandoned airbase is operational. The runway and the buildings at the base are in good condition, there are houses for the pilots and their families. A squadron of Su-27 jetfighters was stationed at the base until 1993. 

The MiG-31 (NATO reporting name Foxhound) is the fastest fighter-interceptor in service anywhere in the world. The upgraded MiG-31BM has a range of 1450 km on internal fuel, which can be extended to 5400 km with air-to-air refueling. 

Rogachovo air base is located 9 km northeast of Belushya Guba, the administrative center of Novaya Zemlya. It was originally used as a staging base for intercontinental Long Range Aviation bomber flights. The base developed an interceptor role during the 1960s, partly to deter U.S. Air Force reconnaissance operations in the Arctic region.

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