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Russia deploys MiG-31 jets with Kinzhal missiles to patrol the Black Sea

From 19 October, by order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Aerospace Forces will patrol the waters of the Black Sea using modern MiG-31 fighters equipped with the Kinzhal long-range hypersonic weapon.

Vladimir Putin said, according to state news agency Interfax:

“This is not a threat… Based on my instructions, the Russian Aerospace Forces will begin patrols on a permanent basis in the neutral zone of airspace over the Black Sea, and the MiG-31 aircraft will be armed with Kinzhal systems.”

Kinzhal missiles are one of the most advanced Russian weapons. They have a range of over 1,000 kilometers and a speed of Mach 9. The missiles are carried by specially equipped MiG-31K interceptor fighters. Thanks to its low radar visibility and exceptional manoeuvrability, the Kinzhal is easy to hit both naval and ground targets.

Vladimir Putin said these patrols would be a measure to increase control, not a threat:

“I stressed that this is not a threat, but we will exercise visual control, control with weapons of what is happening in the Mediterranean Sea.”

The decision was prompted by the escalating military conflict in Israel, the war in Ukraine, and after the US sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Washington has sent the aircraft carrier strike group USS Gerald R. Ford and the aircraft carrier strike group USS Dwight D. Eisenhower “to deter any player seeking to escalate the situation or expand the war.” In addition, the US has bolstered its position by promptly deploying US Air Force F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter jets to the region to reinforce existing fighter groups.

The deployment of MiG-31s armed with the Kinzhal for patrols could escalate geopolitical tensions in the Black Sea region.

The Russian hypersonic missile destroyed at least one battery of the highly publicised US Patriot SAM system back in mid-May. More recently, the Kinzhal has become even more accessible to the Russian Armed Forces, as it can now also be used by Su-34 supersonic multirole fighter-bombers.


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