The Mikoyan MiG-31 NATO reporting name: Foxhound is a supersonic interceptor aircraft developed for use by the Soviet Air Forces.
The MiG-31BSM Foxhound is considered One of the service’s most capable aircraft in terms of air to air combat capabilities.
Despite the MiG-31’s advanced capabilities, it has recently come to light that ownership of four of the aircraft was transferred to a private entity in the 2000s as a result of the severe corruption the country’s defence sector was suffering from at the time.
A former civil servant in a branch of Russia’s Federal Agency for State Reserves in Nizhny Novgorod, Andrey Silyakov, was arrested in late May 2020 to serve a sentence of 11 years in prison.
He reportedly sold the country’s prized MiG-31 airframes, valued at over $60 million each and considerably more when marketed for exports, for just $2.14 each.
The aircraft were given names such as ‘Assembly Kit 306-002’ to avoid suspicion, and were sold to an unnamed local contractor firm owned by a close friend of Silyakov.
The jets, which included all parts other than engines and weaponry, were subsequently re-sold to the Sokol aviation factory at much higher rates. This is thought to have generated considerable profits for Silyakov and his partners.
The sale was revealed in an anti-corruption check to see if regulations were followed during the sale of items from the Sokol aircraft construction plant located in the Russian Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod.
The agency said that unidentified officials from the local department of the Agency for State Reserves unlawfully included four MiG-31 hulls onto a list of sale items, RIA Novosti reports.
The act resulted in the purchase of the long-range supersonic interceptor aircraft that was not for sale by a dummy firm that was not entitled to trade in arms and military hardware,.
Corruption in Russia’s defence sector was a serious issue in the immediate post-Soviet years and into the 2000s, and not only crippled its efficiency but also allowed interested parties such as North Korea and Iran to acquire advanced weaponry and technologies which they otherwise would not have been able to access.