The head of the Russian aircraft corporation, Mikoyan, or MiG for short, claimed on Russian TV last week that the successor to the MiG-31 will be able to fly in space.
The PAK DP, or MiG-41, will have “the ability to operate in space, new weapons, new speeds, [and] new operational range,” Ilya Tarasenko told Zvezda TV channel.
Tarasenko also said that while the MiG-41 will be the MiG 31s “spiritual successor,” it will also be an “entirely new aircraft,” adding that it will be used a lot in the Arctic, be able to reach speeds of nearly 2,800 mph (nearly 1,000 mph faster than the MiG-31), be equipped with lasers, and eventually become an unmanned aircraft.
Nevertheless, it’s impossible to verify such claims since the MiG-41 is still being designed and the plans are classified.
“There are some discussions and initial research about development of a MiG-31 successor — but it is at the very early stages,” Vasily Kashin, a Russian defence analyst, told The National Interest in April.
Still, these claims are not out of the realm of possibility, given the high-altitude and speed capabilities of the MiG-31. But Russia consistently makes predictions that never happen, such as when it claimed in 2015 it would make 2,300 T-14 Armata battle tanks by 2020. Due to budgetary problems, Moscow plans to only make 100 by 2020.
Some defence analysts, for the same reasons, are even questioning whether Moscow will even have money for the MiG-41.
“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 defence industry official told The National Interest in April.
Mikoyan says it will begin producing the MiG-41 in the mid-2020s, and Kashin told the National Interest that it will be ready for deployment by 2035-2040.
Therefore, whether Moscow actually makes the MiG-41 and whatever its capabilities will be if it does, the MiG-31 will remain Russia’s main interceptor well into the 2030s.
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