Russian military officials may be remembering the MiG-25BM fighter when they no longer have a dedicated fighter jet for the task of suppressing enemy air defenses (SEAD).
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia had limited investment and insufficient means of suppressing the enemy’s air defense system (SEAD) when it lacked a specialized vehicle such as the MiG-25BM fighter.
Currently, the capacity of the Russian Aerospace Forces in this area is considered quite limited.
“The modernization of Russia’s tactical aviation is carried out mainly to prevent air wars with NATO, while partly ignoring the enemy’s surface-to-air systems.”
“This means that SEAD has never been a priority for the Russian Aerospace Forces, in contrast to the US and China, which have invested a lot in this area with specialized fighters.” Military Watch magazine said.
The second major factor that made Moscow forget about the SEAD aircraft was the serious reduction in the defense budget after 1991 when the Soviet Union disintegrated. Russia has not kept up with that, while Washington and Beijing have developed many special SEAD aircraft.
The US has an E/A-18G Growler while China has a J-16D to suppress the enemy’s air defense system. They use a variety of electronic warfare vehicles, located both inside the fuselage and in external hangers.
The visual difference between SEAD aircraft and similar aircraft is reflected in the many external antennas, located in different places. The fighters are also equipped with anti-radiation missiles to destroy enemy ground radars.
But again, the Soviet Union had a special SEAD aircraft – one of the heaviest and most expensive ever to appear, the MiG-25BM, it was produced until 1985.
It’s a great aircraft, designed for high-altitude interception, all-weather reconnaissance, and even bombing missions. The MiG-25BM is extremely tenacious, develops Mach 3+ speeds, and can easily overcome the “Armstrong limit”.
The MiG-25BM turned out to be an excellent SEAD, far superior to the later E/A-18G Growler (2006) and J-16D (2011).
The MiG-25BM is a particularly dangerous SEAD aircraft due to its incredible performance and long-range, Russia would have had a vehicle with excellent capabilities for suppressing the enemy, even if it was only raised. level with caution.
The successor to the MiG-25 in the interceptor role is the MiG-31, which, although designed for strike, anti-ship, and space operations, has not been modified for the SEAD role Russia’s great regret.
At the end of 2013, the remaining 20 MiG-25RBs (reconnaissance bombers) were withdrawn from service, Moscow did not buy parts for the 40 MiG-25BMs that Belarus inherited from the Soviet Union, otherwise, now they have become useful to them.
The publication Military Watch commented: “Russia is expected to start deploying a dedicated SEAD variant of the Su-34 front-line bomber, but their capabilities are yet to be seen.”
“But if Moscow determines that it will be too long to face enemy air defenses, then it will need to accelerate the construction of the Su-34 variant, which has been delayed for a long time.”
“Otherwise, buying a batch of J-16D from China will help to remedy the situation. Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighter is said to be capable of suppressing air defense systems and has been deployed to do it, but their numbers are too few to make a difference on the front.”
“It remains to be seen to what extent Russia will invest in these valuable assets, perhaps even switching from the Su-34 to developing an electronic warfare version of the Su-57.”
However, the above process is expected to be fraught with difficulties, especially when Russia currently lacks electronic components or high-speed processor chips due to the effect of sanctions imposed by the West.