- Sep 7, 2015
MiG-41 Hypersonic Interceptor - concept
The MiG-41 conceptually combines the strengths of the Soviet MiG-25 and MiG-31 interceptors, but improves on these considerably with next generation technologies.
The MiG-25 Foxbat was designed to operate at extreme speeds exceeding Mach 3 and at altitudes approaching 30km - making it all but invulnerable to the vast majority of anti aircraft weapons and allowing it to launch air to air missiles with considerable added kinetic energy. The platforms were ideal for intercepting enemy bombers and high flying surveillance aircraft such as the U-2 and SR-71. The MiG-31 was not capable of reaching the Foxbat’s speeds and altitudes, but emphasised the importance of an extremely powerful sensor suite and standoff munitions capable of engaging targets at extreme ranges with precision - with its R-33 missiles designed to intercept not only enemy aircraft but also low flying cruise missiles.
The MiG-41 will be a hypersonic aircraft, meaning it can exceed speeds of Mach 5, and will deploy heavy and extremely powerful sensors and long ranged hypersonic standoff munitions. The aircraft will be able to operate at altitudes far exceeding even those of the MiG-25, flying in near space and threatening enemy satellites and space planes.
This represents part of a growing trend towards heavier investments in space capabilities by major military powers, and Russia’s deployment of a high endurance combat jet designed specifically to neutralise enemy satellites is a potential game changer for its ability to dominate the information space by blinding enemy surveillance and communications.
The MiG-41 is expected to deploy a new generation of air to air weapons, and while the R-37 used by Foxhound interceptors currently has a 400km range and carries large 60kg warheads, the new interceptor’s missiles will likely be considerably faster and have ranges closer to 600km. Technologies developed for surface to air missiles with such ranges, which are used to equip the S-500 air defence system, could well be used as a basis for these new air to air missiles which will likely be too large for anything other than a heavy interceptor to carry.