PAK DP: Russia Wants You To Think It Can Build an Incredible NGAD Fighter

PAK DP from Russia
December 17, 2023 Topic: military Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: NGADPAK DPRussiaRussian Air ForceAviationRussian Military

PAK DP: Russia Wants You To Think It Can Build an Incredible NGAD Fighter

PAK DP is Russia's fake attempt to trick the world into thinking it can make an NGAD like the U.S. or maybe China. It likely can't. 

There are multiple "known" efforts to develop a sixth-generation fighter aircraft – including the United States Air Force's Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, the U.S. Navy's F/A-XX effort, the Franco-German-Spanish-Belgian Future Combat Air System (FCAS), and the UK-led Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

All four of those programs have been in the news of late, and are believed by analysts to be making steady (real) progress.

The same can't be said for Russia's PAK DP, which the Kremlin first touted in 2018 as a project to develop a stealth interceptor aircraft/heavy fighter that would replace the Mikoyan MiG-31 sometime in the mid-2030s.

The PAK DP has also been referred to as the Mikoyan MiG-41, although it hasn't actually received that designation officially – but more importantly, it has been described as being a 5++ generation or 6th generation project.

PAK DA - What We Know? Not Much

There have been few actual reports from Mikoyan about the PAK DP, even as it was slated to take its maiden flight in 2024 and enter service by 2028. Both seem ambitious, and the latter deadline seems almost impossible given that Russia has struggled to produce the Sukhoi Su-57 in significant numbers.

Since being announced back in 2018, very few details have emerged about the aircraft, but what we know is that the future aircraft could be equipped with a ramjet or turboramjet engine while it could utilize stealth technology and be capable of reaching a speed of Mach 4 to 4.3, while some reports suggest it could even reach Mach 5. The MiG-41 would also be capable of carrying anti-satellite missiles and could operate in near-space environments. Some reports even claimed that the aircraft could even shoot down an incoming hypersonic missile.

To be blunt, those claims seem more than a little dubious. So forgive us for suggesting that this is Russian hyperbole that has little to no basis in reality.

Achieving high-speed requires more than just a ramjet or tuboramjet engine.

As Slashgear reported, "Sustained supersonic flight requires lots of fuel, and carrying tons of it adds weight. Moreover, flying at Mach 4 produces an unfathomable amount of heat, and extreme temperatures caused by air friction require a new-age material that repels heat while retaining any stealth coating."


Anyone even remotely familiar with the Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" will understand the great efforts that went into addressing the heat issues. It is true that great leaps have been made in technology, but physics doesn't change. The same problems that were true in the 1960s when the SR-71 was developed are true in the 2020s.

"Flying at Mach 4.3 requires an insane amount of energy, energy that will be dissipated around the aircraft as heat. That heat will not only make the fighter vulnerable to infrared, it will likely damage the outer fuselage containing advanced stealth technology," WeAreMighty also noted.

Then there is the fact that high speeds and maneuverability are generally mutually exclusive. You can fly fast for a long time, and the more you maneuver, the quicker fuel will be used.

Moreover, most weapons would be useless – and there are already reports of aircraft flying so fast they literally flew into the ordnance they tried to fire. A fighter that can fly fast lacks endurance as it burns its load too quickly, and can't actually fight isn't really a fighter at all.

Yet, back in 2018, MiG CEO Ilya Tarasenko told Tass, "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 UAC [the United Aircraft Corporation] and will present it to the public soon.

And yet… more than five years have passed and we are no closer to seeing the PAK DP take to the skies

PAK It in Already

The PAK DP is simply like many of Moscow's latest projects, an attempt to suggest that Russia is still a nation to be feared. But the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union lost and no amount of hyperbole and expensive programs that are impossible to build will make the world tremble again.

Even if the Kremlin were able to build a PAK DP prototype, the costs for the aircraft would be beyond Russia's abilities for it to enter serial production. The other part of the equation is what purpose it would serve – the days of B-52s striking deep into the heart of Russia ended with the Cold War. The U.S. is building bombers like the B-21 that are harder for radar to track and can fire weapons from great distances.

B-21 Raider

To paraphrase former President Obama, "the 1980s are calling" because the PAK DP isn't an aircraft for a future conflict; it was built to shoot down the SR-71. Time to PAK it in.

Author Experience and Expertise

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.