As tensions between Washington and Moscow flare, the Russian military is warning the United States that it has the ability to target stealth aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit that might be operating over Syria
However, Western defense officials and analysts are sceptical and note that both the F-22 and the F-35 were specifically designed to counter Russian developed weapons.
However, in the Russian Airforce Inventory, there is one interceptor, with radar capable of detecting and locking the 5th generation aircraft at practical distances. The Jet is Russia’s MiG-31 Mach 3 Monster
The MiG-31BM has the most impressive radar, a 1,500kg Zaslon-M capable of locking a stealthy Kh-55 cruise missile with RCS of 0.0001m2 at 90km. The RCS size of the F-22 remains classified but various sources claim between 0.3m2 to 0.0001m2 which is unrealistic in my opinion.
The interceptor cannot engage the F-22 in any type of manoeuvring dogfight and cannot defeat missiles through out-maneuvering. But able to carry up to 10 long-range missiles, it’s guaranteed to force a flight of F-22’s into the defensive and evade at Mach 2.83 after unloading missile rounds. In theory, there is no way the Raptor pilot can get a tone on the MiG-31.
Related link: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor VS Sukhoi Su-57
The APG-77 can track a 4m2 target at about 140nm/260km and lock at about 130km. As a rule of thumb, Sorbitsya wingtip ECM pods can reduce locking ranges by 1/3 or roughly 43km.
The stealth coated MiG-31BM has an RCS of 4m2 and while the actual RCS of the F-22 remains classified, it’s certain that the first thing F-22 would be able to lock would be salvos of R-33 or R-37 active homing missiles at Mach 6. With the addition of the F-22’s cruising speed of 1,900kph, the missiles would be the closing distance at 2.58km/sec. Due to the time constraints of interception at such speeds, the pilot can designate the target(s) for automatic launch. If the Zaslon-M radar locks on at 88km, time to impact for the first salvo of missiles would be about 34 seconds if the Raptor pilot fails to break.
The MiG-31 was built to be a home-defence interceptor and was neither exported nor used in combat.