MiG Upgrades & Missiles for Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan Today reports the Russia’s RSK-MiG signed a $60+ million contract at the MAKS 2007 aerospace show to refurbish and upgrade Kazakh aircraft. Reports indicate that the aircraft are 10 of Kazakhstan’s 50 MiG-31 Foxhounds, a derivative of the MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor optimized for high-altitude flight, radar overwatch and control, and cruise missile defense. The planes were inherited from the Soviet Union during its breakup, since they were based on Kazakh territory.
Yet Kazakhstan may be using many of these interceptors for a different purpose entirely…
StrategyPage points to the Kazcosmos company in Kazakhstan, which helped develop an aircraft-launched anti-satellite weapon for the Soviet Union after the USA shut down its own program to avoid provocation. It seems the firm has taken this expertise and put together a satellite launching operation, using MiG-31 to launch small 1,000 – 6,000 pound rocket boosters that can carry small “micro-satellites” into space. This may well prove to be a cheaper option than conventional rockets or converted ICBMs, as aircraft expend far less power to get off the ground, and offer the option of frequent reuse to amortize fixed purchase costs.
In other news, Kazakhstan recently announced its intention to build a modern air defense system with Russian equipment, specifically “double-digit SAMs” like the SA-20A/B Gargoyle/ S-300PM-1/2 Favorit, and the SA-21 Growler/ S-400 Triumf with its multiple missile types. This will give oil-rich Kazakhstan an advanced long-range air defense system that would also have anti-ballistic missile capabilities.
fn1. A reader writes: “…the “SA-10 GRUMBLE” designation applies to the early S-300P series of SAMs – ie the S-300PT, S-300PS, and S-300PM (and the export variants thereof, like S-300PMU). The “SA-20 GARGOYLE” designation applies to the later weapons in the series – ie. the S-300PM-1 and S-300PM-2 “Favorit” (SA-20A and SA-20B respectively). The S-400 Triumf is designated SA-21 GROWLER… PS (a quality link examining Soviet/Russian air defence sites can be found here).”