No more speculation – Russia is working on a next-gen interceptor

MOSCOW, (BM) – Russia’s state-owned company Rostec has officially confirmed that the company is already working hard to develop a next-generation interceptor fighter, the MiG-41. Over the past 24 months, we have repeatedly reported on the project’s progress, citing dozens of Russian media. The Russian state company’s official website is the first confirmation of the new interceptor fighter from Moscow.

Russia's MiG-31K interceptor jet carried out a test of the Kinjal hypersonic missile
The current Russian interceptor MiG-31, Photo credit: Sputnik News

Rostec gives at least another ten years of life to the current interceptor fighter – MiG-31. The Russian company announced that the entire Russian MiG-31 air fleet to be modified to the MiG-31BM version within the next two years. Russia currently has a total of 114 interceptor fighters.

According to this information, the world should expect a new generation of interceptors in the next decade. Not earlier. The future MiG-41 is under the auspices of the program “The project of the Perspective Aviation Complex for the long-range interception,” known as PAK-DP [].

What are the rumors?

According to circulated opinions in the Russian media, the MiG-41 will be a hybrid combining the best of the MiG-25 and MiG-31. The next-generation interceptor is said to be flying at hypersonic speeds, which means rates above Mach 5.

Other claims say the next-generation interceptor will fly at an altitude much higher than that of the MiG-25, about 20,700 m. The MiG-41 will also have sensitive and powerful sensors and arms with long-range hypersonic missiles.

The latter statement can be accepted as a fact, as since 12 months, Russia has successfully tested several times the destruction of the hypersonic Dagger missile by the MiG-31 in flight.

The engineers performed 200 tests

A similar statement appeared recently in the Russian media. This information can also be considered reliable for two reasons: Rostech has officially announced its work on the MiG-41. Russia’s practice is for such projects to be launched at least ten years before the end date of the aircraft’s predecessor.

No more speculation - Russia is working on a next-generation interceptor
Speculative and unconfirmed design of the MiG-41, Photo credit: Twitter

Two hundred tests mean one: Rostech may have found a suitable future fighter design. These tests are related to aerodynamics—wind tunnel tests. However, no photo of the project, model, or prototype published yet.

It is also logical to say that an unmanned version of the new MiG-41 is entirely possible. This technology is entering full force among military aircraft construction leaders – the United States, France, Germany, South Korea, China, Brazil, India, and others.

Russian military experts believe that at the earliest in 2024-2025, the world will see the design and the prototype of the Russian MiG-41. Experts assumed that it is during this period that the first flight tests will begin. Let’s not forget that there is still no information about the essential component of the MiG-41 – the engine.

One is the desire, and another is the fulfillment

RSK MiG JSC General Director Ilya Tarasenko believes that the interceptor will be not at Mach 5 but Mach 4. But there is a problem, here again, say some military aeronautical engineers. According to them, Russia will have to compromise between speed and the desire for stealth.

At a speed of Mach 4, any radio-absorbing and stealth coating will fall from the aircraft, and it will become visible to radar, they say. An interceptor with similar characteristics would cost as much like a bomber, some experts added.

But Tarasenko believes the MiG-41 will have new stealth technology that will not be affected by speed. “Promising aircraft will use new types of aviation weapons, will be able to transport the required amount of them, and will work within a large interception radius. Now all these requirements are defined in the appearance of the aircraft,” Tarasenko said.

What interceptors does the rest of the world have?

At present, Russia is the only country that continues to use smart catchers actively. However, during the Cold War, other countries also developed similar technologies.

The United States had a special squadron of interceptors between 1946 and 1980. In those years, these squadrons used the F-106s as the primary interceptor. Later, Washington decided not to create a particular interceptor aircraft and retrained the F-15 and F-16 fighters for this purpose. The F-16 is designed for air superiority, while the F-15 cannot develop the desired speed to intercept an enemy aircraft. Currently, the function of an interceptor in the US Air Force is performing by the F-22.

No more speculation - Russia is working on a next-gen interceptor
The USAF F-106 Delta Dart interceptor, Photo credit: Wikipedia

Two other countries that have had a history of this type of aircraft are Britain and China. For many years, London used the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom and Panavia Tornado as interceptors for the Royal Air Force, but today the Eurofighter Typhoon performs this function.

China developed its version of the interceptor in the 1980s, the Shenyang J-8. The Chinese interceptor production stopped in 2010, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army still uses about 300 units in various configurations.

Who else is currently developing interceptors?

There are rumors that China is in the process of developing a new interceptor. This air project is a new generation J / H-XX aircraft. The secret around this plane is excellent. It is still unknown – is it a fighter, is it an interceptor, is it a bomber?

The International Institute for Strategic Studies says in its annual report that it is a “combat bomber.” This term is old and has been used to describe a multi-role fighter capable of carrying an air-to-air missile beyond its visual range.

China May Declare Its First Stealthy J-20 Fighter This Year
The Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jet, Photo credit: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

According to the institute, this type of aircraft can attack other aircraft in the air and large aircraft platforms refueling in the air. Another feature analyzed in the cited report is that J / H-XX will destroy aircraft for early warning. The speed that develops during the flight is also critical, and experts believe it will be supersonic.

All this speaks of an interceptor. The problem is that very often, the J / H-XX is spelling as J-20, which is currently in series production in China and is a fifth-generation stealth fighter. So: do the Chinese not make a J-20 interceptor fighter, or will the J-20 have another modification to distinguish it from fighter jets?


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