Asia Defense

Russia to Hold Demonstration Flights of MiG-31K Fighter Armed With ‘Kinzhal’ Air-Launched Ballistic Missile and Su-57 Stealth Fighter

The two fighter jets are set to demonstrate their capability during an airshow outside of Moscow this month.

Russia to Hold Demonstration Flights of MiG-31K Fighter Armed With ‘Kinzhal’ Air-Launched Ballistic Missile and Su-57 Stealth Fighter
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Dmitry Terekhov

A Russian MIG-31K interceptor armed with a Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (“Dagger”) air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) and a Su-57 stealth fighter jet are expected to jointly demonstrate their capabilities in the air during the Russian military’s Army-2018 Forum taking place from August 21 to 23 at the Kubinka airfield outside Moscow.

This will be the first public flight demonstration of a MiG-31K, a modified MIG-31BM, and the Su-57, a multirole, single seat, twin-engine fifth-generation air superiority/deep air support fighter developed under the PAK-FA fifth-generation fighter program. “The flights will be performed both on the days of limited attendance and on the days open for the public,” TASS news agency reported earlier this week.

A MiG-31K last test fired a Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ALBM in July. The new weapon system was officially revealed by Russian President Vladimir in March as one of six new hypersonic weapons that professedly would enter into service with the Russian military in the near future. The Kh-32 is thought to have been inducted into service by the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) earlier this year. As I explained in July:

The nuclear capable Kh-47M2 ALBM is thought to be a variant of the ground-launched Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile. The Iskander, reportedly capable of reaching speeds of up Mach 5.9 in its terminal phase, is thought to have a range of about 500 kilometers.

According to the Russian MoD, following its launch, the Kh-47M2 ALBM can rapidly accelerate to Mach 4 and may reach top speeds of up to Mach 10 while performing evasive maneuvers. The MoD also claims that the new missile’s range is about 2,000 kilometers. (A recent report suggests that the missile’s range can extend to over 3,000 kilometers when fired from a Tu-22M3.)

All these claims are highly questionable, as a number of analysts have pointed out in the past.

A previous Kh-47M2 test launch took place on March 12.

Last month, the Russian MoD announced that it has no intention to mass-produce the Su-57 fighter jet, Russia’s first indigenously designed and built fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft. While not mentioning the reasons for the MoDs decision — the aircraft was originally designed to replace the Russian Air Force’s existing stock of MiG-29s and Su-27s in the 2020s and 2030s — Russia’s overstretched defense budget and various technical challenges surrounding the fighter jet program have reportedly played a significant role.

“For example, the Russian military aviation industry still struggles with the aircraft’s next-generation engine,” I explained previously. “A new engine purportedly called the Saturn izdeliye 30 (purportedly featuring increased thrust and fuel efficiency and fitted with 3D thrust vectoring nozzles) is not expected to be ready for serial production until at least 2020.”

Various aviation experts have questioned whether the Su-57 genuinely has fifth-generation fighter jet capabilities in its current configuration. For now, the Russian MoD has placed an order for a pre-production batch of 12 Su-57 fighter jets.

Similar to the MiG-31K, the Su-57 will also be capable of carrying nuclear-tipped missiles.