Mikoyan Project 1.44

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MIG Project 1.44 MFI
Mig 1-44-2.png
Artist's conception of two MiG 1.44s in-flight
Role Technology demonstrator
National origin Soviet Union
Russia
Manufacturer Mikoyan
First flight 29 February 2000
Status Classified

The Mikoyan Project 1.44/1.42[N 1] (Russian: Микоян МиГ-1.44; NATO reporting name: Flatpack)[2] was a technology demonstrator developed by the Mikoyan design bureau. It was the Soviet Union's answer to the U.S.'s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF), incorporating many fifth-generation fighter aspects such as advanced avionics, stealth, supermaneuverability, and supercruise. The design’s development was a protracted one, characterized by repeated and lengthy postponements due to a chronic lack of funds; the MiG 1.44 made its maiden flight in February 2000, nine years behind schedule. The current status of the 1.44 is unknown.

Development[edit]

Preliminary design[edit]

The MiG 1.44 had its origins in the early 1980s, when the U.S. Air Force began developing an advanced fighter under the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) project, which would ultimately materialise in the form of the supermanoueverable and stealthy, albeit costly, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Consequently, the Soviet government tasked its fighter design bureaux the job of developing a fighter with which to counter the American threat, and replace the Sukhoi Su-27.[3][4][5] Mikoyan busied itself with two concurrent projects, one of which focused on a heavy multi-role design designated MFI (Mnogofunksionalni Frontovoy Istrebitel, "Multifunctional Frontline Fighter"), the other a light tactical fighter named LFI (Lyogkiy Frontovoy Istrebitel, "Light Frontline Fighter"). To minimise costs, both designs were to share as many components as possible.[6]

However, as the research and development phase for the two projects progressed, costs escalated due to the complexity normally associated with advanced aircraft projects. As a result, the Soviet government created the Combined Task Programme in 1983 with the aim of maximising efficiency and developing technologies to be used for all classes of aircraft.[6] Mikoyan became the primary contractor for the programme, the importance of which was illustrated with its inclusion into the Soviet five-year economic plan.[6] The design bureau soon formulated initial specifications for the new fighters.[6]

Mikoyan proceeded with the preliminary design of both the MFI and LFI with participation from numerous institutions, which assisted in the progressive definition of the designs. TsAGI (Tsentralniy Aerogidrodinamicheskiy Institut, "Central Aero- and Hydrodynamic Institute") was responsible for collecting wind tunnel test results, which, along with theoretical studies, were vital during this phase of development. The institution recommended that Mikoyan include canards for the MFI, since it offers great agility and lift, the latter important as the MFI was a statistically unstable design.[6] The delta wings then had a wing leading edge sweep of 40–45°.[6] During this period, engineers undertook unprecedented wind tunnel testing to refine the MFI's aerodynamics and verify its radar cross-section (RCS).[6]

The MFI would have a variable engine intake located under the front fuselage, reminiscent of the Eurofighter Typhoon; this was particularly important with the nature of the aircraft, since it allows for sustained air flow into the engine during sudden manoeuvres.[6] As for the engine themselves, research was conducted on thrust-vectoring, allowing for markedly improved manoeuvrability and short take-off and landing performance.[7] Besides the mechanical and aerodynamic aspects of the design, engineers investigated hundreds of issues to refine the layout and specifications.[7] In 1987, Mikoyan and the associated institutions submitted the MFI and LFI proposals for review.[7]

Full-scale development[edit]

While both MFI and LFI designs passed critical review, due to budgetary constraints, Mikoyan shelved the latter to free up funds for the development of the MFI, which had by then been redesignated Isdeliye (item) 1.42.[7] Under the leadership and coordination of Chief Project Engineer Gheogiy A. Sedov, Mikoyan embarked on major design effort. Because the LFI was shelved, 1.42 had by then assumed the multi-role approach, meaning that it had to fulfill both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.[8] TsAGI was still a part of the design effort, having tested radio-controlled models for research into stability and handling characteristics, particularly at high angles of attack. It was later confirmed that the 1.42 is still controllable at angles of attack of up to 60°.[8]

By now the specifications were being firmed. Engineers from various establishments had settled on a definite design, having refined the flight-control software, verified all wind tunnel test results, and checked important systems using test rigs and modified aircraft.[9] In 1988, Mikoyan was issued a specific operational requirement for the 1.42. Three years later, the design passed the Soviet Air Force's critical review. This paved the way for the construction of a flyable technology demonstrator, and so Mikoyan issued specifications to specialised factories tasked with such roles.[10]

The technology demonstrator, bearing the designation 1.44, would be used to verify the aerodynamic layout and flight control system of the design. Construction of it was halfway when the collapse of the Soviet Union brought a halt to further funding. Inevitably the scheduled first flight of the almost-complete aircraft slipped indefinitely.[10] However, full-scale mock-ups and sections of the 1.44 were built in support of static tests, while factories were gearing up for the construction of prototypes.[10] Mikoyan lobbied the government to declassify the project so it could display the aircraft at various air shows. In June 1995, MiG's Deputy General Designer Anatoliy Belosvet announced that the prototype could be displayed at that year’s MAKS Airshow; in the end, the government refused.[11] The company tried in 1997, to no avail.[12]

Testing interrupted[edit]

In early 1994, the incomplete aircraft was transported to Zhukovsky Airfield, where it would undertake flight tests. Ground tests began later that year, culminating in the first high-speed runs with Mikoyan's Chief Test Pilot Roman Taskayev at the controls.[10] Just as the test programme began to pick up, it was again put on hold as the design bureau did not have enough funds to purchase the remaining components still missing on the demonstrator.[10] This would be the main factor in the indefinite postponement of the programme for the next few years. In 1997, the Russian government cancelled the MFI program due to its unacceptably high unit cost.[13] Mikoyan was financially insecure, resulting with the change in the management during the years leading up to 2000; this opened up other sources of funds.[14]

The change in the company’s management also brought many changes. In late 1998, the Russian government agreed to reveal the existence of the project. On 24 December 1998, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta published a brief article on the fighter, accompanied by several photos.[15] On 12 January the following year, the 1.44 was officially rolled out in the presence of top-ranking Russian military and government personnel, international journalists and other dignitaries.[16][17] Until then, the status of the 1.44 was largely a secret; the previous day, however, Aviation Week & Space Technology published a photo taken from the roof of the hangar in which the demonstrator was parked.[18]

Design[edit]

Note: since the MiG 1.44 did not conduct an extensive flight test programme, not all predicted performance aspects by engineers were verified. Thus, this section refers to the design as the MiG MFI.

The MiG MFI was a delta wing, twin-tailed, fifth-generation air superiority/strike fighter design that incorporated advanced technology to theoretically give the aircraft excellent stealth and fighting attributes. It was of a tail-first (canards) layout which, when working in concert with the engines, gave the aircraft remarkable manoeuvrability. It had a tricycle landing gear system, with a single, dual-wheel landing gear in the front, and two single wheels in the rear. The MFI was controlled by a fly-by-wire flight control system, without which the aircraft was almost impossible to fly because of the statically unstable nature of the MFI.[19] Mikoyan made use of weight-saving materials in the construction of the aircraft, with aluminium-lithium alloys making up 35% of the empty weight, steel and titanium alloys (30%), composites (30%) and others (5%).[20]

The MiG MFI was unconventional in its layout, in an effort to improve in-flight efficiency and stealth characteristics. Efforts were made to minimise surface-area, possibly to reduce drag. The wings were of delta planform, with leading-edge sweep at 52°. At the tips were dielectric fairings which housed electronic countermeasures/electronic support measures. The wings had full-span leading edge. The canards, meanwhile, had a leading-edge sweep of 58°, and had prominent dogtooth which improve airflow over the wings at high alpha (angles of attack).[21] Russian aviation experts claim that the unorthodox design, use of radar-absorbent materials (RAM), and internally mounted weapons, gave an RCS comparable to that of the F-22.[22]

Two Lyul'ka Saturn AL-41F afterburning turbofans produced 177 kN (39,020 lbf) of thrust, giving the MFI a top speed of Mach 2.35. The engines also allowed the jet to supercruise. The axisymmetrical engines could be vectored in both pitch and yaw planes. The nozzle's inner petals were lined with ceramic tiles to reduce heat signatures. The engines, through serpentine ducts covered in RAM, were fed by a rectangular intake underneath the front fuselage.[5][23] Weapons and fuel tanks could be carried under the wings as well.[5]

Testing and cancellation[edit]

During 1999, final preparations were made for first flight. The aircraft was finally completed after missing components were purchased. It underwent ground tests, including high-speed taxis during which the aircraft was rotated.[24][25] On 29 February 2000, the aircraft performed its first flight at the hands of Vladimir Gorboonov. During the 18-minute flight, the 1.44 reached a maximum height of 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and reached speeds of 600 km/h (370 mph). The aircraft touched down at 11:43 am Moscow Time, amid tight security. Gorboonov later described the aircraft as docile.[5][25][26] After the 22-minute second flight on 27 April, engineers probably uncovered some problems, since there were no reported flights thereafter.[25] The programme has since apparently been cancelled, with the aircraft's status unknown.

Variants[edit]

  • MiG 1.42/42 Primary version which may go onto production; the functions are better than that of the 1.44. NATO named it "Foxglove".[1]
  • MiG 1.44 Demonstrator prototype with failed upgrades; will remain a demonstrator. 2 have been built. NATO named it "Flatpack".[1]

Despite the close similarity to the Chengdu J-20, MiG has denied any intentional disclosure of technical information on the 1.44 to China.[27]

Specifications (Project 1.42/44)[edit]

4 view illustration

Note: Since the 1.44 and 1.42 never went beyond pre-production, most specifications are estimated.

Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

  • Guns: 1× 30 mm Izhmash GSh-301 cannon, 250 rounds
  • Missiles: R-77 (AA-12 Adder) medium-range radar-guided missiles, R-73 (AA-11 Archer) short-range IR-guided missiles, K-37 long-range radar-guided missiles, K-74 short-range IR-guided missiles
  • Payload: likely any AGM or small-diameter free fall bomb in the Russian inventory

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Also "Object/Article 1.44/1.42". 1.42 refers to the design, while 1.44 is the designation given to the technology demonstrator. The aircraft is also known as the "MiG-MFI. Although the MFI was once unofficially referred to as the "MiG-35", MiG is now using this designation for an advanced Mikoyan MiG-29.[1]
Citations
  1. ^ a b c "Mikoyan MiG 1.42/1.44/MFI Technology Demonstrator". Militaryfactory.com. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Kramnik, Ilya (9 April 2009). "Russia, Brazil to cooperate on fifth-generation fighter program". RIA Novosti. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Gordon 2001, pp. 6, 12.
  4. ^ Barrie 1996, p. 24.
  5. ^ a b c d Spick, Mike, ed. (2000). "Mikoyan 1.42". Great Book of Modern Warplanes. Osceola, WI: MBI Publishing. ISBN 0-7603-0893-4. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Gordon 2001, p. 12.
  7. ^ a b c d Gordon 2001, p. 13.
  8. ^ a b Gordon 2001, p. 13–14.
  9. ^ Gordon 2001, pp. 15–22.
  10. ^ a b c d e Gordon 2001, p. 22.
  11. ^ Barrie 1995, p. 4.
  12. ^ Gordon 2001, p. 23.
  13. ^ "MiG MFI (1.42/1.44)". Aerospaceweb. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  14. ^ Gordon 2001, p. 27.
  15. ^ Gordon 2001, p. 29.
  16. ^ Flight International 1999, p. 9.
  17. ^ Gordon 2001, pp. 29–30.
  18. ^ Gordon 2001, p. 30.
  19. ^ Gordon 2001, pp. 39, 42.
  20. ^ Gordon 2001, p. 39.
  21. ^ Gordon 2001, pp. 41–42.
  22. ^ Gordon 2001, p. 34.
  23. ^ Gordon 2001, pp. 33, 41–42.
  24. ^ Velovich 2000, p. 32.
  25. ^ a b c Gordon 2001, p. 37.
  26. ^ Flight International 2000, p. 20.
  27. ^ "MiG denies stealth technology transfer to China for J-20 fighter". RIA Novosti. 26 August 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  28. ^ http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=724
Bibliography

External links[edit]