Concept by Alexandr Vihorev
- The CEO of the Russian MiG corporation said on Friday that work on an experimental design for a MiG-41 fifth-generation interceptor will begin "in the immediate future."
- The CEO also said that the next-generation jet fighter would be delivered to the Russian Air Force in the mid-2020s.
- The MiG-41, or PAK DP, would be the successor to the speedy fourth-generation MiG-31 interceptor.
- But experts were skeptical that the aircraft would materalize anytime soon, and one expert even said that to build a pure interceptor is like "living in the past."
The CEO of the Russian MiG corporation said on Friday that work on an experimental design for a MiG-41 fifth-generation interceptor will begin "in the immediate future."
"No, this is not a mythical project, this is a long-standing project for the MiG and now we are carrying out intensive work under the aegis of the [the United Aircraft Corporation] and will present it to the public soon," Ilya Tarasenko said, according to TASS, a Russian state-owned media outlet.
The MiG-41, or Prospective Aviation Complex of Long-Range Interception, would be the successor to the speedy fourth-generation MiG-31 interceptor, which was known to have chased away SR-71 Blackbirds.
Tarasenko, who previously claimed that the MiG-41 would be able to "operate in space," a highly unlikely prospect, also said that the MiG-41s are expected to start being delivered to the Russia military in the mid-2020s.
But Vasily Kashin, a Russian defense analyst at Moscow's Higher School of Economics, told The National Interest last year that he thought the MiG-41 wouldn't fly until the mid-2020s, and wouldn't be delivered to the Russian Air Force until 2035-2040.
"I don't hold out much hope for an even less proven design concept to make it into series production anytime soon," Justin Bronk, a combat-aviation expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider in an email.
"The Mig-31BM is already a highly capable interceptor platform and there are plans for a second modernisation upgrade of what is a relatively new aircraft for a very specific Russian territorial defence requirement," Bronk said.
And given that the T-14 Armata tank and Su-57 stealth fighter "have had series production cancelled recently," Bronk said, "my take is, 'I'll believe it when I see it,' and will remain extremely skeptical until that point."
But "never say never I suppose," Bronk added.
Richard L. Aboulafia, Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group, told Business Insider that Tarasenko's announcement "keeps the idea alive, and you never know, even a chance in a 100 is better than no chance at all."
"It also, of course, doesn't hurt in sales campaigns for current generation planes, like the [MiG-29SM]," Aboulafia said. "In other words, people don't like buying fighter planes from a company with no future."
Aboulafia also said that the idea of creating a pure next-generation interceptor is like "living in the past" since surface-to-air missiles "are generally a better way of intercepting things."