Ukrainian Air Force gives two theories about why Russian MiG-31Ks left Belarus for Russia

8 April, 11:45 AM
In more than 100 days, Russian MiG-31Ks made almost 40 sorties from the Belarusian airfield Machulyshchi (Photo:DR)

In more than 100 days, Russian MiG-31Ks made almost 40 sorties from the Belarusian airfield Machulyshchi (Photo:DR)

Air Force Command spokesman Yuri Ihnat has given two potential reasons for why three Russian MiG-31K fighter jets suddenly left the Machulishchy airfield in Belarus on April 6 and headed to Russia.

Ihnat suggested that the first reason could be due to the need for repair or routine maintenance that the Russian warplanes must undergo at their main base airports.

“After all, it’s an aircraft, a machine, so routine work needs to be done from time to time,” Ihnat explained, adding that Belarus does not have the necessary equipment to repair Russian MiGs of this type.

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Ihnat’s second explanation is that the departure of the MiG-31Ks, which are potential carriers of the hypersonic missile Kh-47M Kinzhal, may have been due to a rotation of their crews.

“In this case, some aircraft will go back to their main bases (in Russia), and others will leave (for Belarus),” Ihnat said.

He also noted that such cases have occurred before, where several MiG-31Ks flew to their main airfields and were replaced by other fighters. Ihnat predicted that the MiG-31Ks will return to Belarusian airfields in any case.

On April 6, the Belarusian Hajun monitoring group reported that three Russian MiG-31K fighters left the Machulishchy airfield in Belarus, where they had been based since December 2022 for 113 days.

During this time, the Russian Kinzhal carriers made 39 flights, causing air alarms throughout Ukraine.

Because Kinzhal missiles have a range of 2,000 kilometers, meaning they can reach all parts of Ukraine, any activity by their launch aircraft (the MiG-31K) triggers a nationwide air alert. However, Russia has used Kinzhal missiles rarely, as it has few of them, and most of the MiG-31K sorties are training flights.

The Belarusian Hajun group also noted that this was the second rotation for aircraft of this type. Earlier, three MiG-31Ks of the Russian Aerospace Forces arrived in Belarus in October 2022 and stayed there for 46 days.

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