Russian MiG-31K fighters, armed with Kinzhal Hypersonic missiles began overflights in the Mediterranean taking off from a base Syria. As part of the exercise at the Russian Khmeimim airbase in the Syrian Arab Republic, a pair of MiG-31K aircraft flew from Russian airfields, which have the ability to use the latest hypersonic missiles from the Dagger complex. Official photos released by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation of the exercises show the MiG-31K taking off with a large missile strapped to its fuselage.
Also, long-range Tu-22M3 bombers and Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft made training flights over the Mediterranean Sea. According to the plan of the exercise, five ships of the Russian Navy (including the missile cruiser Moscow, the frigates Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov), as well as two submarines Stary Oskol and Rostov-on-Don together with anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142MK, Il-38, long-range bombers Tu-22M3 and MiG-31K aircraft will perform combat training tasks to ensure the security of the Hmeymim air base and the logistics point of the Russian Navy Tartus.
The Mikoyan MiG-31 (NATO reporting name: Foxhound) is a supersonic interceptor aircraft that was developed for use by the Soviet Air Forces. The aircraft was designed by the Mikoyan design bureau based on and shares design elements with the MiG-25. The MiG-31 is among the fastest combat jets in the world. MiG-31K is a modified MiG-31BM variant able to carry the hypersonic Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ALBM. With this modification and with removed APU for air-to-air missiles, the aircraft gained a sole role of an attack aircraft.
The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (“dagger”) is a Russian nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM). It has a claimed range of more than 2,000 km (1,200 mi), Mach 10 speed, and an ability to perform evasive maneuvers at every stage of its flight. It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and can be launched from Tu-22M3 bombers or MiG-31K interceptors. It has been deployed at airbases in Russia’s Southern Military District. The Kinzhal is one of the six new Russian strategic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2018.