The Russian government announced that it’s sixth-generation fighter jet will be equipped with a range of powerful new features, including laser and microwave weaponry, and advanced radar that will “significantly expand” their ability to detect enemy fighters. The jet, which is Russia’s answer to the US F-35, was first announced in 2016, according to the Washington Times. Complications surrounding the development of the F-35, which was famously plagued with delays and cost overruns, once inspired President Donald Trump to threaten to cancel the US’s order with military contractor Lockheed Martin.
Russian officials said the lasers would allow the MiG-41fighters to disable attacking missiles by destroying their tracking systems.
“We already have laser protection systems installed on aircraft and helicopters, and now we are talking about developments in the field of powered lasers that will be able to physically destroy attacking missiles’ homing heads. … Roughly speaking, we’ll be able to burn out ‘the eyes’ of missiles that ‘look at us.’ Naturally, such systems will be installed on sixth-generation aircraft as well,” said the Adviser to the First Deputy CEO of Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) Vladimir Mikheyev, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
According to the report, developing drone technology is a “high priority” for Russian engineers, who envision unmanned aircraft flying alongside planes operated by human pilots, armed with a diverse group of weapons.
“One drone in a formation flight will carry microwave weapons, including guided electronic munitions while another drone will carry radio-electronic suppression and destruction means, and a third UAV will be armed with a set of standard weaponry. Each specific task is solved by different armaments,” Mr. Mikheyev added.
The Russian government is also developing microwave technology, which officials say will make the jets lighter and more agile.
“The use of microwave weapons is highly problematic for a plane with a pilot due to the need to preserve his life. But if we develop an additional system of protection against our own microwave weapons, we’ll lose even more space and the weight margin. Besides, even the most complex and effective system can be insufficiently efficient,” he said.
The jet will also feature “advanced radar concepts” that will allow pilots to monitor enemy aircraft with “the highest accuracy.”
“The radio-photonic radar will be able to see farther than existing radars, in our estimates. And, as we irradiate an enemy in an unprecedentedly wide range of frequencies, we’ll know its position with the highest accuracy and after processing, we’ll get an almost photographic image of it — radio vision. … This is important for determining the type [of an aircraft]: The plane’s computer will immediately and automatically identify a flying object, for example, an F-18 with specific types of missile armament,” Mr. Mikheyev said.
Government officials first unveiled plans for the sixth-generation MiG fighter early last year, and expects it to be finished by 2025.