Russia deploys Kinzhal-armed MiG-31s over Black Sea as tensions escalate

By bne IntelliNews October 20, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian Aerospace Forces to conduct patrols over the Black Sea using the advanced MiG-31 fighter jets armed with the long-range Kinzhal hypersonic weapons that will increase tension in the region, it was reported on October 19.

"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," Putin said, according to state news agency Interfax.

The Kinzhal has a range of over 1,000 kilometres and a speed of Mach 9, and is one of Russia’s most advanced weapons.The missiles are carried by specially equipped MiG-31K fighters-interceptors. According to state news agency TASS, the Kinzhal has a low radar signature and exceptional maneuverability, making it a formidable asset designed to strike both ground and naval targets.

Putin emphasized that the decision to deploy these patrols is not meant as a threat but rather as a measure of enhanced surveillance. "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," he clarified.

The move comes amid a crisis in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine and follows the United States' deployment of two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea in the same week.

The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) were dispatched by the US "to deter any actor seeking to escalate the situation or widen this war." Furthermore, the US bolstered its posture by swiftly deploying US Air Force F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s to augment existing fighter sadrons in the region.

As tensions continue to rise in the Black Sea region, the deployment of Kinzhal-armed MiG-31s for surveillance patrols increases the geopolitical tension in the region.

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