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Aircraft And Military Development & Applications
MiG-41. This superfast interceptor is not yet off the drawing board at the Mikoyan military aircraft design bureau, but the final draft may be ready already within the next couple of years with mass production scheduled to begin before 2025, Zvezda television channel reported on Friday.
The Russian military aircraft design bureau Mikoyan Gurevich has since the 1940’s been building many famous military aircraft, some of the aircraft being real stallions in terms of speed. Two of these are the MiG-25 and the MiG-31 which has both been capable of speeds of over mach 3.2 and 2.83 respectively. MiGFlug offered both for flights in the past, read more here. Now there has been rumors that MiG are trying to do it again - building a superfast interceptor. The current name of the project is MiG-41 with speeds projected to be of over mach 4.0. According to the famous Russian experimental pilot Anatoliy Kvochur, the MiG-41 is to be capable of reaching speeds up to Mach 4.3 (about 5270km/h or 3270mph).
The new Mikoyan interceptor
So now to the point of this article, the MiG-41. There is not very much known because it is, just like all top modern military projects, very secret. But we do know that there is a program going on as the deputy Alexander Tarnaev at the Russian State Duma Defense Committee said this during an interview at the Cultural Center of the Russian Armed Forces: “The corresponding decision was taken by the Chief of the General Staff; he has already signed the document to carry out research work on the MiG-41 project”. We also know that the new MiG will be based off of the Foxhound as Tarnaev also said this about the project: “Will embody all the advantages of the MiG-31 fighter-interceptor jet”. To do this they will need testing platforms, which might be why hundreds of MiG-31s will be overhauled and put into service with the Russian Air Force.
What we will see when the MiG-41 will be introduced is still unknown as the project is rather new and not very much has been leaked. However when looking at how the MiG-31 developed from the Foxbat and thinking about the MiG-41’s mach 4.0 (even 4.3) capability we can say that it will probably be a heavily armed interceptor with high service ceiling and - obviously - a very high speed.
As an interceptor, its primary mission is rumored to offset future reconnaissance aircraft currently being developed by the United States of America and China. To achieve the high speeds rumored for the aircraft, the aircraft would need to be equipped with ramjet or turboramjet engines.
Nevertheless, while developing a Mach 4+ replacement for the Foxhound, the Russians will to continue the modernization program of the Foxhounds, overhauling over 100 aircraft.
The MiG-41 would be a completely separate development from Russia’s fifth-generation Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA air superiority fighter. The potential new interceptor would be more of a so-called sixth-generation effort similar in concept to the U.S. Air Force’s Penetrating Counter Air or the U.S. Navy’s F/A-XX or Next Generation Air Dominance programs.
“As one can understand, the MiG-41 is a kind of a futuristic project which is still on the stage of conceptual design,” Kashin said. “I think that it is something like a 5++ or 6th Gen project. So, we probably should consider it as having the same status as the American, Chinese and European 6th Gen projects-something futuristic, which, at best will be deployed by 2035-40.”
Because the MiG-41 would be developed well after work on the PAK-FA is complete, the new interceptor would not compete for resources with Sukhoi’s program. “one can think there is no conflict, because even if it ever reaches the test flying stage, it can be no earlier than some time around the mid-2020s,” Kashin said.
Others expressed skepticism as to whether Russia has the resources to develop such an aircraft. “I think it's still very much a paper project under the slogan ‘if we draw it, then maybe we'll get money for it,’” a defense industry source told The National Interest.
Russia needs a long-range interceptor to replace the MiG-31 because of its large territory. Post-Soviet Russia-even shorn of many of its former territories-covers a vast landmass with bases that are often few and far between. “Russia needs a long range interceptor because of its geography, so keeping the MiG-31 as long as possible and then making a replacement for them is a good idea,” Kashin said.
Only time will tell if the MiG-41 is eventually built. Certainly, the Kremlin has the ambition and the need to develop such an aircraft. It’s question of if Russia has the resources to bring such an ambitious project to fruition.
In an interview for Russia Today the Director General of RSK MiG, Ilya Tarasenko, said that it would be a new construction capable of Mach 4 - 4.3, equipped with an anti-missile laser, and claimed would be able to operate at very high altitudes and even in space. He also stated that it could be transformed into an unmanned version later. If purchased by the Russian Air Force, he claimed that the first MiG-41 could be produced as early as 2020.
Outer space is generally considered to begin sixty-two miles high, or 327,000 feet. In 1963, a NASA X-15 aircraft reached an altitude of sixty-seven miles high, which remained a world record until the Space Shuttle (considered an aircraft rather than a spacecraft for this purpose) first flew in 1981. However, the X-15 was a rocket plane and the Space Shuttle a glider mated to giant rocket boosters. None of which would seem particularly applicable to a combat aircraft whose engines would have to function well enough to maneuver low in the Earth’s atmosphere and at the edge of outer space, where the air is extremely thin at best.
To be fair, Russian media also points out that speed and altitude capabilities are more important than maneuverability for an interceptor. A fast, high-flying interceptor can be used to intercept ballistic missiles, for example.
Fighter jet will be capable of space travel and could operate without a pilot.
CEO Ilya Tarasenko made the claims during an interview aired on Zvezda TV. It will also feature new weapons, new speeds and a new operational range
Lasers capable of destroying missiles were previously reported for the MiG 41. Experts predict the upcoming aircraft won't be ready until at least 2035
Role: Stealth Interceptor aircraft
Status: Under development
Primary user: Russian Air Force
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Nigel G Wilcox
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