Lost in translation?
There is an American edition called Military Watch Magazine. It positions itself as a provider of “reliable and in-depth analysis of military affairs around the world.” In the Russian-language publication, you can find references to the fact that the publication is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. And he considers himself “critical” of the American military-industrial complex.
In itself, this should not be surprising or alarming. There is nothing wrong with American observers trying to critique programs that spend billions of taxpayer money on. Moreover, many of these programs ended in nothing: just remember Future Combat Systems. Others, such as the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, have been moved and revised several times.
However, some points still cast doubt on objectivity. In April Military Watch Magazine published material “MiG-31BSM Foxhound vs. F-22 Raptor: Which Heavyweight Jet Would Reign Supreme in Air to Air Combat? “, Which drew the attention of” Rossiyskaya Gazeta “, the official publication of the government of the Russian Federation.
Even a quick glance is enough to understand how “unfortunate” the F-22 is. The authors did not leave the fifth generation fighter a single chance in battle with the old Soviet MiG-31 interceptor. True, the argumentation raises many questions.
“… With a weight of about 29,400 kg, the F-22 can use one of the largest and most powerful radars weighing about 554 kg. However, the MiG-31, which weighs about 39,000 kg after refueling, is capable of carrying an even larger radar, which provides a greater detection range, “
– quotes “RG” the words of the author of Military Watch Magazine.
It is interesting to know, since when did the effectiveness of on-board radar stations begin to be determined by their mass? And since when did the old Soviet radar “Zaslon” (albeit in a modernized form), which began to be developed back in the 60s, began to have a greater detection range than the one installed on the F-22 AN / APG-77? The latter, we recall, is equipped with an active phased antenna array and has 1500-2000 transmit and receive modules: it embodies all the achievements of American progress in this area. Of course, one can assume the presence of some “childhood diseases”, however, they were probably solved a long time ago.
Of course, we can talk about nominal detection range indicators: however, is it appropriate to cite them, given that even 4+ generation fighters (Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale) have significantly reduced radar signature in comparison with old machines, and the number of invisible “The F-35 has long exceeded half a thousand units.
In general, the ability of the “Barrier” to somehow effectively detect these machines at a great distance is, for obvious reasons, a big question. Probably, the MiG-31 has even less chances to show itself in close air combat: the plane was not created for this, in principle, and is practically devoid of the qualities necessary for a multifunctional fighter.
“However, perhaps the most significant advantage of the MiG-31’s armament is its range. The R-37 is a larger missile capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 400 km. Even the range of the latest AIM-120D missiles is less than half that range. The range of the MiG-31’s armament is likely to be even greater, since the aircraft’s flight characteristics also play a role, ”
– says the material.
The problem is that the effectiveness of air-to-air missiles is not determined by their maximum launch range: with a high degree of probability, a missile launch from a maximum distance will end in nothing. In general, the question of the number of R-37 missiles in the Russian Air Force is debatable, to put it mildly: many sources directly indicate that there are no such missiles in the air force’s arsenal (here, however, the author does not undertake to prove anything concretely). As for the standard interceptor missile, the R-33, its maximum overload of targets hit is 4g, which makes it almost impossible to defeat highly maneuverable targets, primarily modern fighters.
In addition to the above facts, you can find no less “entertaining”. For example, the MiG-31, produced since 1975, “will last longer” than the F-22 (they began to operate in 2005). Or that a highly specialized interceptor is “more versatile” (!) Than an American fighter. In the latter case, the authors recall the Kh-47M2 “Dagger”, but they forget that the carrier of this missile is a specially modernized aircraft – the MiG-31K, which, in all likelihood, is deprived of the possibility of using standard “air-to-air” weapons. As for the idea to equip the MiG-31BM with new bombs and air-to-surface missiles, this initiative, most likely, remained just an initiative. In general, the modernization of the combatant MiG-31 to the level of the MiG-31BM is more correctly called budgetary. This is a conditional analogue of the modernization of the Su-27 to the level of the Su-27SM and T-72B tanks to the level of the T-72B3.
Of course, the above examples could be attributed to translation difficulties, but in reality, the official publication of the Russian government quite accurately outlined the essence of the article. That is, in this case, “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” cannot be accused of incorrect presentation of the material.
In general, the very idea of comparing the old Soviet interceptor and the relatively new fifth-generation fighter deserves special attention. Obviously, these are aircraft from different eras: the MiG-15 and F-15 can be compared with the same success. That is, this does not mean that the MiG-31 is bad, but its time is objectively coming to an end. This, by the way, has recently been more and more often paid attention to in Russia, talking about the creation of a promising MiG-41 or the transfer of functions to the 31st Su-57 fighter, which, however, is not yet in service.
It is worth saying that this is not the first attempt by Military Watch Magazine to compare modern (and not only) weapons. So, earlier the military magazine made a rating of the best tanks in the world, which included two Russian combat vehicles at once – the T-14 “Armata” and the T-90M “Breakthrough”.
And in 2018, a publication dedicated to fifth-generation fighters, or rather, the advantages of the Russian Su-57 over the F-35, caused a great resonance. “This is reflected in its (Su-57. – Author) speed, flight altitude, sensors, missile equipment, range and maneuverability – in all characteristics where the heavier Russian fighter has superiority,” RIA Novosti quotes the words of Military Watch. Needless to say, such assessments quickly spread across the RuNet. “The USA recognized the advantage of the Su-57 over the F-35” – this is how Lenta titled its material.
However, American citizens are unlikely to hear about the disadvantages of the F-35 and the advantages of the Su-57. Despite the increased interest in the magazine from the Russian-language media, the author of the material does not remember that any of the major Western mass media ever referred to Military Watch.
All this, of course, raises uncomfortable questions, but at the same time, it suggests the real origins of the “strange” publication dedicated to the F-22 and MiG-31. It remains to add that Military Watch Magazine was born relatively recently: the earliest materials are dated 2017. True, the publication considers a fairly wide range of issues and goes far beyond comparing Russian and American combat aircraft.