Russia starts development of PAK DP as MiG-31 successor

The Rostec State Corporation has confirmed that Russia has started to develop the successor to its Mikoyan MiG-31 interceptor fleet under the Prospective Air Complex for Long-Range Interception (PAK DP) programme.

The Russian state-owned company revealed that the PAK DP platform was in development on January 22, which was also the day that the nation celebrated the aviation element of its air defence forces. In a news release that celebrated the MiG-31BM, Rostec confirmed that the “development of the next-generation of interceptor fighters has already begun. The project of the PAK DP is at the stage of development work.”

MiG-31BM [Russian MOD]
A pair of Mikoyan MiG-31BM interceptors in flight. Russia has launched the development of the successor to this platform under the PAK DP programme. Russian Ministry of Defence

Russia’s intent to develop a replacement for its ageing MiG-31 fleet has existed for a number of years. Also referred to as the ‘MiG-41’, development of the PAK DP was initially reported to begin in 2017. However, a statement in 2015 by then-commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS), Colonel General Viktor N Bondarev, revealed that the development work for the PAK DP would begin in 2019. He also noted that the nation aimed to begin fielding the platform from 2028.

While not much is known about the capabilities and characteristics associated with the PAK DP, it is anticipated that the platform will exploit low-observable design technologies. As it is being designed as an interceptor and a direct replacement for the MiG-31, it will also boast a high maximum speed and service ceiling. It is also projected to employ a range of hypersonic missiles and be compatible with unmanned aircraft.

Although Russia is now actively developing its successor, it is in no way ready to part ways with its MiG-31 aircraft as the platform is being modernised to keep it around for at least another decade. In the same release, Rostec said: “Work is underway to extend the life of the MiG-31BM by several thousand flight hours, which will allow the interceptors to remain in service for another ten years.

“Experts believe that the resource of the titanium body of [the] aircraft built about 30 years ago is practically inexhaustible and taking into account the updated equipment and weapons, the MiG-31BM can be used by the military until a more modern replacement appears for it,” it added.