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“Dagger” in a scabbard: what advantages the complex will give the Navy


The Russian Navy is preparing to adopt the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system. In particular, it will be received by the naval aviation of the Northern Fleet. The new weapon is capable of hitting a target with high accuracy in a matter of minutes, and no country in the world has reliable protection against it. What advantages the “Dagger” will give to the Navy, the military historian Dmitry Boltenkov figured out.

Air ships

Today, as part of the 98th and 317th Mixed Naval Aviation Regiments (MA) of the Northern and Pacific Fleets, they serve one squadron of MiG-31 fighters. The regiments are based at the Monchegorsk and Yelizovo airfields, respectively. It is worth recalling how, in general, these airships (the so-called aircraft weighing more than 40 tons) appeared in the MA.

In Soviet times, the MiG-31 entered service with air defense fighter regiments to replace the MiG-25, Tu-128 and Su-15. The first to receive new vehicles were units deployed at the borders – on the Kola Peninsula, Sakhalin and Kamchatka.

“Dagger” in a sheath

MiG-31 fighters with hypersonic aircraft systems Kh-47M

MiG-31 fighters with hypersonic aircraft systems Kh-47M “Dagger”

Photo: RIA Novosti / Maxim Blinov

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So in 1986-1989, his Su-15 was replaced by the MiG-31 865th Fighter Aviation Regiment in Yelizovo. This is one of the few aviation units in Russia that has more than a century of history. In 1998, the formations of the Armed Forces deployed on the peninsula – the Kamchatka Flotilla of Diverse Forces, the Army Corps and the Air Defense Division – were reorganized into the United Command of Troops and Forces in the North-East of Russia as part of the Pacific Fleet. So the 865th Fighter Aviation Regiment became a naval military unit. During the reform in 2009, he was reduced to a squadron and is now part of the 317th mixed air regiment.

The 98th regiment in Monchegorsk was assembled from several aviation units. His MiG-31 came from the 455th regiment in Kotlas.

So, two squadrons of these fighters appeared in the Russian MA. Recently, the units have been receiving an upgraded version of the MiG-31BM. Satellite images of Monchegorsk and Yelizovo show more than two dozen aircraft, both parked and stored in sedimentation tanks.

“Dagger” in a sheath


An employee of the aviation engineering service of the Russian Aerospace Forces during routine maintenance with the MiG-31BM fighter-interceptor

Photo: TASS / Yuri Smityuk

The MiG-31BM has a speed of up to 2500 km / h, its range of action reaches thousands of kilometers, and with refueling and outboard fuel tanks even further, the height is up to 30 km.

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Currently, many pilots and navigators come to the Aerospace Forces and MA after graduating from aviation schools. They are actively exploring new methods of using aircrafts. The Kamchatka squadron of the MiG-31 in the MA largely sets the tone. Here, flights to intercept American aircraft, and flights to escort our bombers, and firing in the entire range of altitudes, including cruise missiles, are practiced here.

Death of the sea gods

During the confrontation in the Cold War, Soviet generals and admirals relied on the development of nuclear submarines and missile carriers armed with anti-ship cruise missiles. It was expected that in the course of a possible third world war, while Soviet tanks would rush to the English Channel, the United States would transfer its forces to Europe across the Atlantic.

“Dagger” in a sheath

Aircraft Tu-22M3

Aircraft Tu-22M3

Photo: TASS / Russian Defense Ministry press service

To combat such convoys, as well as aircraft carrier and landing groupings, it was planned to throw submarine and missile carrier divisions into battle. The high mobility of naval missile-carrying aviation (MRA) and its striking power, especially with the adoption of Tu-22M3 aircraft with Kh-22 missiles, greatly worried the American command. The film “All the fears of the world” colorfully shows the moment when a pair of X-22 missiles hit an American aircraft carrier, after which it became a wreck.

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At the same time, the Tu-22M3 were also in service with the Long-Range Aviation (DA). After the collapse of the USSR, MRA units were reduced, and of the five divisions that existed in 1990, only four squadrons remained in service in 2009, which were transferred to the DA of Russia. Thus, the Navy lost its long-range arm, and two new air regiments appeared in the Long-Range Aviation.

Dagger for the Navy

The X-47M “Dagger” hypersonic missile has a range of up to 2,000 km and a speed of Mach 10-12. A converted MiG-31K fighter is used as a carrier. It essentially performs the functions of the first stage of the complex. The task of the MiG-31K is to deliver the missile to an altitude of 12-15 km. Then the product, already accelerated to high speed, is reset. “Dagger” accelerates to hypersonic speeds and rushes along a complex trajectory to a given target. At the same time, the rocket maneuver does not give the enemy the opportunity to knock it off course. The existing Aegis air defense missile defense system is useless against these weapons.

“Dagger” in a sheath

Dagger hypersonic missile launch

Dagger hypersonic missile launch

Photo: RIA Novosti / Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

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Such a bundle allows the carrier aircraft to reach the launch area rather quickly and hit the target. The object can be a large warship, such as an aircraft carrier. At the same time, the MiG-31K is deprived of the ability to use suspended air-to-air missiles, so it is advisable to use it in conjunction with the MiG-31BM. Thus, it seems that the future air regiments will consist of at least two squadrons, one of which will play the role of air defense and protection of the MiG-31K, and the other will include the MiG-31K carriers themselves.

Such air regiments from the areas of the Kamchatka and Kola Peninsulas can effectively act against any enemy in most of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Baltic and Norwegian Seas – both on aircraft carrier and amphibious formations, as well as on command and control facilities of a potential enemy.

The appearance of such aircraft as part of the MA of the Russian Navy essentially revives the MRA of the USSR, but at a higher technological level.

“Dagger” in a scabbard

Fighter-interceptors MiG-31K

Fighter-interceptors MiG-31K

Photo: TASS / Marina Lystseva

The MiG-31, created 40 years ago, turned out to be in demand at a level that the engineers who worked on it could not even dream of.

It is worth noting especially the competent policy of the military, who first create the objects of the basing system of this or that type of weapon and the social infrastructure for the military. And then units with one or another equipment arrive at the already organized base. Also for the “Daggers”, first, airfields and storage arsenals are developed, housing for soldiers and officers is built, and only then the MiG-31K will arrive there.


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