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    MiG-31 interceptors to hold live firing exercises in Siberia

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    Up to 20 long-range interceptors will conduct launches of guided missiles during a tactical exercise in Siberia on Wednesday, a Russian Air Force spokesman said.

    MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti) - Up to 20 long-range interceptors will conduct launches of guided missiles during a tactical exercise in Siberia on Wednesday, a Russian Air Force spokesman said.

    The live firing drills, involving MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors from an air regiment based in the Chita Region, will be held at the Telemba firing range.

    "During the exercise, MiG-31 interceptors will fire missiles at airborne and ground targets at night and during the day," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said. "About 20 combat jets will participate in the drills."

    The MiG-31 Foxhound is a two-seat supersonic interceptor aircraft developed to replace the MiG-25 Foxbat. It is equipped with two D-30F6 turbofan two-shaft engines with a common afterburner and a variable supersonic nozzle, which allow the aircraft to fly at supersonic speeds of up to Mach 2.83.

    The interceptor also features unique air-to-air missiles capable of hitting targets at ranges exceeding 200 kilometers (125 miles), including aircraft with stealth capabilities, cruise missiles, and supersonic aircraft.

    According to various sources, about 500 MiG-31s have been produced since production began in 1978, approximately 370 of which remain in service with the Russian Air Force.

    Russia plans to modernize its whole fleet of MiG-31interceptors, which have been in service for 25 years, and extend their service life with the air force until 2015.

    Drobyshevsky also said more than 10 units from the 5th Air Army based in the Urals Military District will participate in large-scale combined-arms exercises at the Kapustin Yar and Ashuluk training grounds, both in south Russia's Astrakhan region near the Caspian Sea.

    The exercises will be held on April 1-10, and will involve MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors, Su-24 Fencer fighter-bombers, Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters and transport planes.

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