At approximately 0330 EST, reports began to emerge of increased Russian aviation activity at two Belarusian airfields. Three MiG-31K aircraft were spotted departing Machulishchy airfield at approximately 0400 EST. They conducted flight operations with a Russian A-50U Air Control Intercept and Long Range Radar Aircraft, also stationed in Belarus. At least one of the MiG-31ks were seen armed with what appears to be a Kh-47M2 Kinzhal Hypersonic Missile.
The A-50U tail number was: RF-50608
The MiG-31K tail numbers were:
This reporting seems to show that RF-95194 is operational after sustaining damages in a reported engine fire on December 25th, 2022. However, a Belarusian OSINT group reported at 0555 EST, that the same aircraft experienced another engine failure and fire, forcing it to land prematurely at Machulishchy.
Russian MiG-31Ks spotted departing Machuliishchy Airfield in Belarus. The aircraft, along with others stationed in Belarus are participating in air exercises. pic.twitter.com/o4zCTlY6VL
— Tessaron News (@TessaronF) January 19, 2023
The report reads below:
“…at 10:59 (Kyiv time), over the Maladzie?na district, a MiG-31K fighter jet of the Russian Air Force (RF-95194) caught fire in one of its two engines, which was accompanied by an explosion sound – in fact, it was a sound of the engine surging after ignition.
As a result, MiG-31K PKS of the Russian Federation (RF-95194) was forced to end the flight urgently and return to the airfield Machulishchy.”
Open source analysts also reported that (2) Su-24s, and (2) Su-30s participated as well, with at least the Su-30s operating from other Belarusian airfields. Simultaneously, rotary-wing aircraft were reportedly conducting airfield seizure drills in South Belarus. The tactical aircraft were reportedly conducting air patrols and surveillance drills in support of these air assault exercise.
The exercises are reported to last until the end of January.