Why didn’t India buy Mig 31 Foxhound after the success of Mig 25 Foxbat?
Soviet Union’s main reason for the production of the Mig-25s were to introduce an another Interceptor for its Air Force. Finally when they actually went for the serial production, the Mig-25s were presented to the world as Reconnaissance cum Interceptor aircraft. Few later version like; Mig-25 RBV and Mig-25 RBTs were updated and upgraded for the Bombing operations as well. But India did used the Mig-25s more as reconnaissance aircraft than as an interceptor. Mig-25 was put under the category of ELINT: covert intelligence-gathering by electronic means by IAF.
Reason for India buying the Mig-25s.
They were the unchallenged fighters of the Air Force which carried out the sonic booms over the skies of Islamabad. The main reason for the acquisition of the Mig-25s were because their present fleet of the Canberra Reconnaissance aircraft was getting aged, secondly they were prone to enemy interception and has many vulnerable flaws.
Secondly the satellite reconnaissance was still a distant dream and India was still uncertain about its future. Hence the only best possible way to counter that was inducting Mig-25R for Indian Air Force.
Why no induction of Mig-31 Foxhounds.
In 2006 Indian Air Force decided to retire these legendary machines. At that time Russia did offered India its new interceptor and successor to the Mig-25, the Mig-31. India didn’t actually rejected the deal, instead they sent their pilots and engineers to check over the Mig-31. But eventually they rejected it and instead went for more orders of the Su-30 MKI with licence production by HAL.
With the advents of more sophisticated drones like;
IAI Searcher and IAI Heron Apart than that DRDO itself serially producing drones and UAVs and along with collaboration with IAI of Israel, right now we have;
Like after 2010 the Space Program of India got accelerated to the core. Right now India has
GSAT-7A(A military Communication satellite)
EMISAT(Indian reconnaissance satellite )
Apart from that India has also launched;
GSAT 29(High Throughput Communication Satellite)
GSAT 31(Another High Throughput Communication Satelite)
And along with the Earth Observation Satellite CARTOSAT Series(1, 2, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F) and in coming years the CARTOSAT 3.
Not only that CARTOSATs are known as Eye in the Sky by India.
These all things are much enough for us for not to bring in any other kind of reconnaissance fighter platform with all other kind of needs and requirements.
Secondly a reconnaissance fighter aircraft requires all different set of requirements and others. While for UAV or Drones it doesn’t require any kind of these things and can be used from any platform. Hence using a reconnaissance aircraft will be a burden.
The advancement of the Space Programs and the mobility provided by Drones and UAV has put forward an another global arena on which now most of the countries are focusing. US understood the reason and that’s why they have been heavily upgrading their UAV and Drone programs. They have long retired their SR-78 Black Birds and now are more focused on the Drones and UAVs. That was the reason that why Drones and UAV played a major role against the War against terrorism in Afghanistan and now against ISIS.
The second thing is that Mig-31 is more Interceptor cum Attack aircraft than its predecessor Mig-25. And add to it we already have number of other aircraft which can easily outrun the Mig-31. It is not that India didn’t evaluated but the major reason is this aircraft doesn’t fit to our need right now. So does it makes Mig-31 an impotent aircraft, no not at all. They are the possibly the best aircraft, but right now they does not fit our needs.
The warfare has evolved heavily in the coming years, so is our requirements for the air combat and air warfare.