What to Expect From Russia’s Next Gen Interceptor MiG-41

MiG-31 aircraft

 Sputnik News: The Russian MiG-31 interceptors are famous for their ability to accelerate to an incredible speed of 3,000 kilometers per hour and operate at altitudes of more than 20 kilometers. In the next ten years, even more advanced MiG-41 long-range intercept aircraft, which are set to destroy targets in outer space, will replace them.

The Russian MiG-31 interceptors, dubbed ‘Foxhound’ in the West, are unique in all respects and still have no competitors in the world. They will cover Russia’s air borders for the next ten years up until their decommissioning. The next generation MiG-41 will replace them as Russia’s main interceptor aircraft.

RIA Novosti’s Andrei Stanavov explored the new features of the MiG-41 interceptor, comparing them to the MiG-31 aircraft.

Masters of the Skies

The issue of resuming the production of the MiG-31 or developing a new high-altitude interceptor to replace it was discussed in the Russian parliament in 2013. This was the first time in history that the Russian lower house of parliament devoted an entire session to the fate of a specific weapon amid NATO’s eastward expansion.

MiG-31 is indeed a very interesting aircraft, despite it being developed in the early 1970s. Its motors accelerate the 40-ton machine to close to hypersonic speeds. The aircraft is equipped with a six-barrel 23-millimeter gun and six mounting points for a variety of air-to-air missiles. Its maximum combat load is nine tons.The upgraded MiG-31BM locates targets at a distance of 320 kilometers and reaches them with missiles at a range of 280 kilometers. Four interceptors in a group are capable of taking control of the skies with a length of up to 1,200 kilometers along a front. The aircraft can intercept ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as low-flying orbiting satellites.

MiG-31 long-range fighter-interceptors at the Sokol Aircraft Building Plant in Nizhny Novgorod. File photo
MiG-31 long-range fighter-interceptors at the Sokol Aircraft Building Plant in Nizhny Novgorod. File photo

Production of the MiG-31 ended in 1994; Russia currently possesses more than 250 aircraft of different modifications.

Russian Aerospace Forces Commander Viktor Bondarev rejected the idea of ​​resuming interceptor production, saying that it’s better to invest in a new project than to restore the old one. It was decided to upgrade existing aircraft to the version to MiG-31BM and look for new solutions. Then, talks concerning a possible successor to the MiG-31 — a long-range intercept aircraft PAK DP began.

Outer Space

Earlier reports suggested that the aircraft of the PAK DP project would be called MiG-41. At the same time, the interceptor will not be the product of the complete modernization of the MiG-31, but will be a “completely new aircraft.”Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG Director General Ilya Tarasenko said on Tuesday that supplies of Russia’s MiG-41 interceptor aircraft, known earlier as the PAK DP, will begin in the mid-2020s.

“The PAK DP is the logical development of our MiG-31 aircraft. Once contacted by the Defense Ministry, we will take up this project closely and I think that its deliveries will begin in the mid-2020s,” Tarasenko said.

There is not very much known about the MiG-41 because everything about this plane, just like with all top modern military projects, remains classified.

Even though the MiG-31 is the fastest military aircraft around, it will eventually have to make way for newer and more advanced types of aircraft.

The MiG-41 will be hypersonic (reported speed — 4,500 km) and will be able to carry hypersonic missiles. It is also designed for the Arctic and could possibly be turned into a drone.

The MiG director general told earlier the Russian Zvezda TV channel that the aircraft will have unique combat capabilities, in particular, it will be invisible to enemy radars and even be able to work in outer space. He provided no further details. It is only known that some modifications of the MiG-31 are already capable of launching small satellites into near-Earth orbit.According to the veteran test pilot of the USSR, Hero of Russia Anatoly Kvochur, speed and range of action, not maneuverability, are the main features of a high-altitude interceptor. He said that such aircraft could be also used for peaceful purposes, for example, eliminating space debris in low orbits.

The Mikoyan MIG-31, a supersonic all-weather long-range interceptor jet

“These planes are not designed to maneuver […], they are needed to give huge impetus to objects that they carry. It’s their feature. Reaching high altitudes is important. There are hundreds of different satellites around the planet, some of them are no longer controlled and are considered to be space debris. In particular, such aircraft can be used to collect and destroy space debris,” Kvochur told RIA Novosti.

It should be also noted that, in addition to eliminating reconnaissance aircraft and enemy bombers, high-altitude interceptors’ goals remain to be the search and destruction of ballistic and cruise missiles as part of an air defense system. They have already proved their effectiveness in performing the task. In the summer, the MiG-31 successfully shot down a missile flying at an altitude of 12 kilometers at a speed three times the speed of sound.

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7 Responses to "What to Expect From Russia’s Next Gen Interceptor MiG-41"

  1. Glyn Davies  August 31, 2017 at 12:43 am

    joetv…I read that 1/3 of the spending in the US on defense is money spent on administration and buracracy

  2. RichBuckley  August 30, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    What really seems to matter most in aerial combat is pilot combat training. This sounds weak but I found combat pilots who augment their training with 500 or more hours of robust cockpit computer simulation where flight characteristics are within 1/2 of 1% accuracy and encounter simulated combat encounters dying 1000 times or more, emerge very-very-very skilled.

    More importantly the pilot gains the advantage of combat-bubble (the sphere in which the combat occurs) awareness and assessment giving the pilot absolute inner confidence in him/her self. The pilot learns by dying a 1000 times in computer simulation what not to do.

    Built to pilot confidence, is a full knowledge of enemy aircraft performance.

    When actual aerial training is augmented with robust computer simulation on the scale 500 to1000 or better (500 computer simulated cockpit hours to 1000 or more deaths) a pilot with only a couple of hundred hours in type, real hours flying his aircraft, is well prepared.

  3. Theognostos  August 30, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    This is nothing new. The MIG 31 is somewhat outdated….As far as shooting down as pent satellites this is nothing new. The USA has done it with a McDonnell Douglas F-15 and ASAT. I could be done with an F-22 also. Russia does not appear to have the funding for all these projects. Aircraft carriers? PAK FA? Armata? New subs and destroyers? They never replaced the French helicopter carriers they went to Egypt instead. Russia will have to pick and choose what they want to develop very carefully.

  4. Andrew_Bukanov(Russia)  August 30, 2017 at 11:19 am

    My father flied on MIG-25 long time ago. And these new birds are the masterpiece of air-combat art!

  5. joetv  August 30, 2017 at 10:09 am

    I’ll make it short. Our defense industry is bloated and uncompetitive, and it should be nationalized. But! We can’t do that. That’s right we can’t do that. Why? Because congress is bought and paid for. How did that happen. We allowed it to. But how? By allowing monopolies. That’s a funny word. You ain’t heard nothing yet. Listen to this. Citizens United! What? Look it up.

  6. joetv  August 30, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Our defense corporations are bloated. The contractors, the congress, all bloated like fat pigs. I suggested the idea of discussing nationalizing the industry, but who can honestly talk about such a thing? Congress? I don’t think so, it has become rat infested, and $700 billion annually for defense is ridiculous.

  7. joetv  August 30, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Maybe our country should nationalize our defense industry, or at least discuss it. It itsn’t because I believe we’re outclassed. No,

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