Russia’s MiG-41 Fighter Nightmare Is Truly an Aviation Dumpster Fire

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Summary: Russia’s aviation industry is supposelly developing the MiG-41, a sixth-generation fighter jet aimed to replace the aging MiG-31. Promised to reach unprecedented speeds beyond Mach 4 and altitudes including near-space, the MiG-41 may feature advanced technologies like anti-missile lasers and EMP weapons.

-Despite these bold claims, Russia’s historical challenges in fulfilling its aviation promises, notably during and after the Soviet Union’s dissolution, raise doubts about the project’s feasibility.

-As the MiG Corporation struggles with current demands, notably the MiG-35, skeptics remain wary of the MiG-41’s ambitious deployment timeline targeting the 2030s amidst ongoing tensions with Ukraine.

Russia’s MiG-41 Fighter Is Flying to Nowhere 

Russia is planning to “push the boundaries of aviation engineering” with the development of its newest fighter, the MiG-41, which is a proposed replacement for the MiG-31 “Foxhound.” According to Russian sources, the MiG-41 will fly at altitudes that no other warplane can fly—not only to the highest points in the atmosphere, but to lower space, if necessary, as well. 

It gets better, Russian aviation sources have been whispering that the MiG-41 will be so superior to anything deployed by other countries that “it will introduce features not seen by the aviation world yet.”

If the Russians are to be believed, we’ve come a long way from the dark days when Mikoyan Aircraft Corporation (the makers of MiG), following the collapse of the Soviet Union, could not produce its fifth-generation warplane, the supposed rival to America’s F-22A Raptor, the MiG-1.44. 

Russia’s Sixth-Generation Warplane Fantasies 

Of course, it wasn’t just the 1990s and early 2000s when the MiG Corporation could not live up to its extravagant promises.

Even today, as the Ukraine War rages—which Russia’s strongman, Vladimir Putin, has described as an existential struggle for Russia—the MiG Corporation cannot meet Russia’s demand for their MiG-35 product. And the MiG-35 is a relatively easy plane to build compared to the proposed MiG-41. 


Still, in today’s upside-down world, it rarely serves anyone to underestimate their rivals. 

Whatever one’s opinion about Russia in the wake of their illegal invasion of Ukraine, the fact of the matter is that, generally speaking, Russia’s defense industrial base has benefited greatly from the war (whereas Western defense industrial bases, both in Europe and the United States, can barely keep up with peacetime demand, let alone wartime commitments). 

In fact, it looks as though the situation from the 1990s and 2000s might be slowly reversing with the United States looking like the declining power with a shrunken and decrepit industrial capacity versus the Russians, who are reinvigorated by their war against Ukraine (and, therefore, NATO). 

Anyway, the proposed MiG-41 has some truly insane-sounding capabilities that almost demand one be skeptical until one actually sees the proposed warplane in action. 

MiG-41″ The Last Starfighter…in Russia?

Supposedly the MiG-41 is capable of going beyond Mach 4. Russian designers want to equip the warbird with an anti-missile laser, too. Relatedly, Mikoyan aims to place first-of-their-kind directed electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons onboard the bird to be used against rival fighters in a dogfight.

These weapons are non-kinetic and target the electronics of a rival warplane, knocking them out, turning that rival warplane into a falling brick.

Russia’s military claims that its directed EMP weapons will be ready for testing by next year. Again, remain skeptical about these claims until verifiable proof is released about the existence of these systems. 

One reason for the MiG-41’s potential space-borne flight capabilities is its unique pulse-detonation engines.The internet is chock full of conspiracy theories about secret US military planes using this advanced and innovative engine system to cruise at incredible speeds and altitudes. But the US military has never confirmed that they have, in fact, developed such capabilities. 


The Russians, however, are claim that their next major warplane will employ this method of travel. Let’s just say the engine system is a work-in-progress. 

Yet, MiG Corporation insists that the test flight for this bird will be next year. 

After that, Russia asserts that the MiG-41 will go into mass production for deployment by the 2030s. Given that nearly every aspect of this proposed warplane is experimental, it seems unlikely that the Russians will meet these lofty timelines, despite their defense industrial base being reinvigorated by the Ukraine War. 

After all, if MiG Corporation is struggling to meet the increased demand for the conventional MiG-35 then it certainly is going to struggle building the MiG-41. This project could go the way of the aforementioned MiG-1.44. 

Dream Big, Russia 

Even if the Russians manage to pull this program off, the likelihood they will meet their speedy deadlines is low. 

What Mikoyan Corporation has announced is not a next-generation warplane at all. It is a starfighter; a work of fiction that would perform well on the silver screen. Although, getting this bird into the unfriendly skies in any meaningful way by the close of this decade is, well, fantastical. 

Still, it makes for some great propaganda—and likely some really cool concept art. 

Keep dreaming big, Moscow. Eventually, you’ll go far.

About the Author: 

Brandon J. Weichert, a National Interest national security analyst, is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, the Asia Times, and The-Pipeline. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower, Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life, and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy. His next book, A Disaster of Our Own Making: How the West Lost Ukraine, is due October 22 from Encounter Books. Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.



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