MiG MFI - experimental fighter

MiG MFI - experimental fighter
MiG MFI - experimental fighter

MiG MFI is a heavy single-seat fighter made according to the canard aerodynamic configuration with an all-moving forward horizontal tail (PGO), a mid-delta wing and a two-fin tail.


In the design, carbon fiber reinforced plastics and polymer composites are widely used, the share of which in the total mass is about 30%.

Reasonable sufficiency has come to replace the comprehensive use of composites, which several years ago seemed to be the most promising structural materials - in practice, such parts are difficult to include in the load-bearing structure, the organization of joints and the transfer of forces is difficult, and their extremely low maintainability in case of damage interferes with operation. Broken fibers are practically unrecoverable under normal conditions, forcing the entire assembly to be replaced and limiting their use to single, small parts. In the design of the MFI, composite panels are made of wing panels, PGO, hatch covers and flaps.

Aluminum-lithium alloys account for 35%, steel and titanium - 30%, another 5% is accounted for by other materials (rubber, glass, etc.).

Cruising supersonic should be provided by two AL-41F turbofan engines. Engines equipped with rotary nozzles have a maximum afterburner thrust of 14000 kgf with a dry weight of 1585-1600 kg. With a normal take-off weight, they provide the aircraft with a thrust-to-weight ratio of the order of 1, 3. The assigned service life of the AL-41F before the first repair is 1000 hours, the service life of the moving parts of the nozzles is 250 hours. The engines have passed the full scope of flight tests at the MiG-25 flying laboratory (board 306). The maximum speed of the MFI was supposed to be M = 2, 6, and the long-term cruising speed, achieved without switching on the afterburner, was M = 1, 4-1, 6. The afterburner was considered as a short-term combat when catching up with the enemy or providing a tactical advantage.


The aircraft is equipped with a ventral air intake, divided into two sections (each serves its own engine). The air intakes have an upper adjustable horizontal wedge and a lower deflectable lip for smooth inlet flow control. The inlet design has side bevels and a vertical center wedge. Provided equipment 1.44 air refueling system.

The lower location of the air intake is also advantageous in terms of the requirements for high maneuvering characteristics, allowing you to avoid stalling the flow during intensive maneuvers with access to large angles of attack and bends. The aerodynamic "duck" design with high bearing properties is also subordinated to this. In addition, the VGO performs the functions of damping when reaching critical angles.

Mechanization of the wing - two-piece deflectable socks, ailerons and two pairs of flaperons, which occupy almost the entire leading and trailing edges, are connected to a fly-by-wire digital control system that controls the behavior of a statically unstable machine. Its characteristics make it possible to achieve a true symbiosis of the airframe, thrust vectoring engines and on-board equipment, while simplifying the pilot's work, increasing the control sensitivity and protecting the machine from going into extreme and out-of-limit modes. In total, the aircraft carries seven pairs of control surfaces, including such unconventional ones as rudders on the lower keels and "fins" in the wing roots.

The decrease in radar signature, achieved, in the general case, by the features of the aircraft layout and the radio-absorbing coating of its surfaces, in 1.44 can be assessed only by specific design solutions that reduce the RCS and shield some units especially noticeable in this spectrum. The aircraft does not carry coverings that are not necessary for the initial flight tests. In addition to the general layout with smooth contours, including an oval flattened section of the fuselage, the internal placement of weapons and the shelter of the engine compressors, which also give noticeable "bursts" during irradiation, contributes to secrecy. The air ducts leading to them are S-shaped. The clearances at the joints of the ailerons, flaps, wing tips and rudders are minimal. The installation of spaced keels on the wing with an outward camber of 15 ° is subordinated to the same unobtrusive technology.

At the same time, a number of solutions, albeit related to the individual characteristics of 1.44, do not fit well with modern ideas about ways to reduce the RCS: lower keels playing the role of corner reflectors, neglect of the approved sawtooth organization of the edges of hatches and panels, angular joints of the keels, wing and fuselage, the presence of gargrotto with the same "corners".

When opened, the movable part of the lantern rises up on two levers with a simultaneous shift back. Such kinematics allows to significantly reduce the forces required for opening (with a glazing thickness of 10 mm, the cover weighs more than 150 kg) and facilitates its drive.


The aircraft has a tricycle landing gear with a nose wheel. The nose pillar with two 620x180 wheels retracts back downstream. Due to the dense layout in the area of the air intake, it does not completely fit into the niche and the two flaps covering it have a convex trough-like shape. The main struts with various types of shock absorption are retracted forward. They carry 1030x320 low pressure wheels with ventilated brakes. The use of wheels of the same type as on the Su-25 and Su-27 is due to the desire to simplify the design of the prototype.

Armament 1.44 does not carry, however, compartments are reserved and nodes for its installation have been laid. It was assumed that the fighter would carry a built-in 30-mm cannon with an increased effective fire range, and its embrasure would be closed by a movable flap to reduce radar signature and to meet the requirements of high-speed flight. The inner compartment 1.44 was supposed to accommodate most types of existing air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles on ejection mounts, as well as 5th generation air combat missiles specially created for the MFI.

Heavy missiles, bombs and hanging tanks could be suspended on three pairs of underwing holders, the nodes of which are also embedded in the wing structure. However, the external load options were not the main ones, increasing visibility and preventing supersonic flight.


1.44 did not carry a full range of sighting and navigation equipment, limited only by the necessary aerobatic systems (this explains the small cone of the non-standard radar, and some "radio-transparent" fairings, such as the "caps" of the keels, were simply painted on the first car). At the same time, all the units of the complex were being tested, including at flying laboratories. The aircraft was supposed to be equipped with a 5th generation Doppler radar with a phased antenna array, which allows tracking more than 20 targets and simultaneously attacking 6, as well as sighting equipment of optical and IR channels for detection, tracking and target designation in low visibility. The use of such equipment is considered a priority in terms of secrecy (the radar emits the aircraft with powerful radiation).

To accommodate the rearview radar and the onboard jamming station, compartments were provided in the keel beams.

Much attention was paid to the automation of solving problems, which is especially important for the internal placement of weapons, when the missiles hidden in the seeker compartment need external target designation from the aircraft systems until the very moment of launch. In the interaction of the pilot and the aircraft, the principles of "see-beat" and "let-and-forget" were realized to the maximum.


Preliminary work on the creation of a fifth generation heavy fighter for the Air Force and Air Defense and intended primarily to replace the Su-27 and, in part, the MiG-31, began at the end of 1979, when the priorities in the requirements for the future fighter were outlined. … They were supposed to be the following directions:

multifunctionality, which assumed equal opportunities when operating against air and ground targets;

low visibility in all spectra (visual, radar, thermal and electromagnetic);

super-maneuverability, which assumed the implementation of unconventional techniques and tactical elements of air combat, as well as expanded the range of possible flight modes without reaching the brink of stalling and stalling;

supersonic cruising flight speeds, allowing for an energetic manner of air combat, imposing initiative on the enemy and quickly responding to a changing tactical situation.

The preliminary general features of the fighter, which received the temporary design bureau code "product 5.12", took shape in the early 80s. The name, to maintain secrecy, was given by analogy with what was used in the working documentation for the MiG-29, with further clarification of the modification (9.12, 9.13, 9.15 and others). Thus, even with an accidental leak of information, the impression was created that we were talking about one of the "twenty-ninth" options. The general management of the project was carried out by General Designer Rostislav Belyakov, Georgy Sedov was appointed chief designer (in 1997 he was replaced by Yuri Vorotnikov).

In the meantime, there were reports of an almost parallel American work on the project of a promising tactical fighter ATF (Advanced Tactical Fighter). Without delay, the decision at the state level took place in our country - a closed joint resolution of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers, adopted in 1986, stipulated the main stages, terms and persons responsible for the IFI program - a multifunctional fighter. The leading aviation research institutes, the Ministry of Defense and the Air Force, with the participation of the Design Bureau, formed the conceptual image of a new fighter, on the basis of which the Air Force formulated a clear technical task for a promising aircraft.


When designing it, the same formula of "three Cs" was taken as the basis, however, the priorities in it have changed somewhat:

supersonic cruising speed;

super maneuverability;


The implementation of rather contradictory requirements required a large amount of research. The shift in emphasis led to significant differences in the MFI scheme from the fighters of the previous generation, which were just entering service: it was necessary to abandon the integral layout, which significantly increased the midsection and contradicted the requirements of cruising supersonic, the wing lost its influx and acquired a positive transverse "V", new control surfaces were proposed, for which the name still had to be found. At the same time, in the MFI, according to one of the designers, one could see the “evolved MiG-25” - a high-speed fighter, “grown up” to a qualitatively new level. The aerodynamic concept of the MFI was worked out at TsAGI, which recommended the following solutions for their implementation:

the “duck” scheme, which is advantageous both in terms of maneuverability and the best bearing properties, with a rear centering that is statically unstable;

a wing of a large area and a triangular shape with a sweep along the leading edge of 40-45 °;

deviation of the thrust vector of the engines to improve take-off performance and ensure super-maneuverability;

adjustable ventral air intake, optimal at supersonic and subsonic, as well as at low speeds and high angles of attack and having a lower radar signature due to "shading" from above by the fuselage;

internal or conformal placement of weapons.

The preliminary design of a promising fighter was carried out by specialists of the OKB. AI Mikoyan in 1985. Its peculiarity was that it was carried out in two parts - for a multifunctional front-line fighter and an air defense fighter, called MFI, and for a light front-line fighter - LFI. This assumed a high degree of unification between both aircraft. In 1986, MMZ im. A. I. Mikoyan, together with other participants in the work, successfully defended a preliminary design for the MFI and LFI aircraft, winning a competition from the Sukhoi Design Bureau. In the same year, a joint party and government decree was issued, according to which the MMZ im. AI Mikoyan was entrusted with the development of MFIs in the "weight category" of the Su-27.


After passing the prototype commission, which approved the appearance of the MFI, the refinement and refinement of its scheme continued. The first working drawings for the "product 5.12" were released already in 1986, but the initial version (this term adopted in the practice of the design bureau means the next version in the process of creating a machine) has undergone significant changes. In addition to using the mathematical apparatus and a huge amount of blowing in the TsAGI wind tunnels, studies of the "product 5.12" were launched on large-scale controlled flying models.

Dropped from a helicopter suspension four-meter half-tone "five" went to extreme modes, demonstrating the behavior and controllability of the future machine at supercritical angles of attack and helping to master the techniques for getting out of dangerous conditions.

Due to the secrecy of the topic, the tests were carried out in the steppes of the NIK Air Force test site near Aktobe. The flights were confined exclusively to the "windows" between the flights of the western reconnaissance satellites, and the models themselves had a yellow-green color camouflaging against the background of the terrain. They were instructed to pick them up within minutes after landing.


These tests did not go smoothly, breakdowns and analysis of incidents after "controlled falls" were common, but they were paid off by the information from telemetry tapes and flight recorders, which immediately went into action. The records made it possible to judge the effectiveness of certain solutions, they were studied by test pilots who had a unique opportunity to assess the behavior of the future aircraft ahead of time, especially in dangerous modes. In the flights of models with conventional mechanical control, by 1990, it was possible to achieve stable behavior without a tendency to stall at angles up to 60 ° and corkscrew characteristics, enviable for machines of a "stable" scheme. In itself, this was promising, since it was previously believed that a statically unstable aircraft of such a layout, not equipped with an artificial stability control system, is practically uncontrollable.

On the basis of continued research and searches, changes were made to the design. Innovations, sometimes significant, were also introduced at the first prototype being assembled at the plant at the design bureau. Work on it began in 1989, already under the code "Project 1.42". By 1994, the project had undergone six editions, four of which were tested on flying models.

Initially, it was planned to equip the aircraft with engines with flat nozzles, which reduce radar signature and shield turbine disks. However, such a design, which at first glance is simpler, turned out to be difficult to implement due to the unsatisfactory distribution of the temperature fields in the "box" of the nozzle during the transition from a circular to a rectangular section, which threatened to burn out the walls. The transition to flat nozzles had to be postponed, and in the meantime, the engine engineers managed to control the thrust vector by deflecting the usual round adjustable nozzles, and since 1991 they have been introduced into the main edition.

The MFI wing with a straight leading edge without overflow differed from that which had become generally accepted on the fighters of the previous generation. The formation of vortices flowing down the leading edges and having a positive effect on stability (Academician of TsAGI Byuschgens figuratively compared them with "rails on which the plane glides without stalling at large angles") installation, thickness and excess over the wing depends on the optimal drift of the flow and the descent of vortices that form the flow around the wing. This is especially important in the case of an adaptive wing design, when the joint work of deflecting toes and flaperons changes the flow pattern, "adapting" the wing to the flight mode.


The task turned out to be difficult: the first two editions with a "clean" VGO were replaced by another, in which the VGO blades (the term "stabilizer" has lost its meaning, since the front tail of the MFI mainly performs other functions) received an impressive vortex-forming tooth. In the practice of the design bureau, such a solution has already been used to improve the MiG-23 - then its rotary consoles were equipped with a tooth, and then the center-section influx, which had a positive effect on maneuverability.

The deployment of weapons underwent a corresponding transformation. A version of the internal cargo compartment in the upper part of the fuselage was being worked out, from where the rockets, after opening the flaps, would be thrown out by hydropneumatic pushers (a design worked out on the MiG-31, however, with a ventral semi-recessed placement). This placement promised some advantages, making it easier to capture and launch at over-flying targets and during overload maneuvers. However, it would inevitably entail operational problems - to lift rockets to a height of four meters, the mass of which even for the lightest R-73M exceeds 100 kg, and for long-range missiles reached 300-400 kg, special cranes and platforms for each aircraft would be required - too expensive, cumbersome and completely unacceptable solution for domestic practice. As a result, the armament compartment took up a position in the lower part of the fuselage, where the missiles, using well-known simple means, can be suspended directly from the bogies.

MFI was supposed to receive a new generation of radar with a phased antenna array. This design, consisting of many small modules, each of which is an independent mini-emitter, is much faster and more efficient than a conventional radar with a rotating antenna mirror, is less mechanically complex and more resistant to damage. A novelty in the armament complex was a "tail protection" radar with detection of the enemy in the rear hemisphere and target designation to missiles, including those with a reverse launch, launched backward in flight (this technique was worked out for the R-60 and R-73 missiles).


Meanwhile, during the construction of an experimental machine, problems arose that turned out to be more significant than the inevitable difficulties of designers and technologists in a new business. By the end of 1991, the entire Soviet military-industrial complex entered a severe crisis on a grand scale. "Oboronka" has lost its former privileged status, the allocated funds have been drastically reduced, many knowledgeable specialists have left the enterprises and design bureaus.

To this were added non-payments and disruption of economic ties, an attempt to overcome which was the unification of the Mikoyan experimental plant at the Design Bureau (ANPK MiG) and the MAPO, and since 1996 - 12 related enterprises that entered the MIC MAPO, as well as Aviabank. The heterogeneous structures, harnessed into one cart, did not solve the problems, however. The financial and production orientation of the new leadership did not have the best effect on the life of the design bureau, which was not adapted to immediate returns. "Oboronka" even in Soviet times could not serve as an example of economical spending of funds, but now new opportunities sometimes led to the disappearance of money without any return.

In relation to MFIs, this had depressing consequences: the finances allocated for specific items "dissolved" in the depths of the military-industrial complex and neighboring structures, while the construction of the machine at times froze. The "showdowns" that arose around the fighter sometimes reached the president's office, but the work proceeded neither shaky nor badly. This happened, for example, during the installation of a control system, for which the Nizhny Novgorod plant "Hydromash" did not agree to supply steering gears without prepayment. Other systems remained understaffed and had to be preserved. Not getting along with the new management, test pilot Mikhail Kvochur left the firm, who was supposed to be the leader in the IFI.

In the end, the plane, although not yet equipped with some of the units, was transported to the LII in early 1994. In December, the first high-speed taxiing was performed on it with a separation of the front pillar. After that, the "era of stagnation" began again. The plane was gathering dust in the hangar, and its display, expected from year to year, was always postponed under plausible pretexts. The vacuum was filled with scant information from the representatives of the company and the MAP, confirming the existence of the new fighter (which in itself was unusual even with the advent of publicity - not a word was said about the presence of the Sukhov S-37 until its first flight).

At the air show in Le Bourget in June 1995, Deputy General Designer Anatoly Belosvet said that the company expects to show 1.42 at the exhibition in Zhukovsky. However, the demonstration was then canceled literally a few hours before the opening of MAKS-95, explaining this by the ban of the military, although the freshly painted plane was ready for rollout. Only the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and members of the government were allowed into the secret hangar zone.


The press service, compensating for the failed event, circulated the text of an interview with Rostislav Belyakov, which said that 1.42 was created in response to the American ATF program, and the design bureau "firmly adhered to the compliance of the project's characteristics with the requirements of the Air Force." As a result, the MFI was to become not only equal to the American fighter, but also "surpass it in a number of characteristics." The last statement in relation to the already flying American aircraft then became almost ritualistic, repeating from year to year.

Meanwhile, the MFI was again officially mentioned on March 21, 1996 when the training MiG-AT was shown. Director General of MAPO-MiG Vladimir Kuzmin announced that, subject to proper funding, the new fighter could be taken into the air “in six months”. Demonstration 1.42 was also expected at MAKS-97, it was postponed from day to day, but in the end it did not take place again.

As a result, the IFI program began to lag more and more behind the American ATF. It became impossible to delay further. The success of neighboring competitors also played a role: on September 25, 1997, the Sukhovites took to the air their prototype of the C.37 "Berkut" front-line fighter. Finally, after long delays, it was decided to show the MFI, albeit flightless, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the company.

The airplane was shown on January 12, 1999 at the LII, where many journalists, military attachés of foreign countries and a solid contingent of domestic dignitaries, including members of the government, on whom fate depended, were invited 1.42. Among those who came to Zhukovsky were Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, Air Force Commander-in-Chief Anatoly Kornukov, Economy Minister Andrey Shapovalyants and Presidential Aide Yevgeny Shaposhnikov.

Following the screening, a press conference was held. The questions were answered not only by the General Director of AIPK "MiG" Mikhail Korzhuev and the chief designer Yuri Vorotnikov, but also by representatives of the government. While the Mikoyanites expressed confidence in the success and reality of the declared characteristics, the ministers of defense and economy behaved more restrainedly, speaking evasively about funding the tests.

In the presence of distinguished guests, the Mikoyanites found themselves in a difficult situation: all the mentioned advantages and characteristics of a fighter that had not yet "pierced the air" sounded as if they had been confirmed in practice, and the very presentation of the first prototype acquired, at the suggestion of some of those present, the character of a "sale" complete machine. Subsequent newspaper publications, completely illiterate and often in the nature of outright persecution, added fuel to the fire.

MiG MFI - experimental fighter
MiG MFI - experimental fighter

At the same time, the very first publication with a detailed description and photo of the MiG 1.42 appeared a day before the official showing in the American aviation weekly Aviation Week and Space Technology on January 11, 1999.

On February 29, 2000, the plane took off for the first time. The test flight took place at the flight test and development base (LI and DB), located at the airfield of the Flight Research Institute. M. Gromov in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow. The flight, which lasted 18 minutes (from 11:25 to 11:43 Moscow time), proceeded in full accordance with the assignment. The plane gained an altitude of about 1000 m, made two circles over the airfield at a speed of 500-600 km / h, after which it successfully landed.

On April 27, 2000, 1.44 made a second 22-minute test flight. In flight, a number of aircraft and propulsion systems were tested, in addition, in contrast to the first flight, the landing gear was released and retracted on the fighter.

As for the aircraft itself, the sample shown was somewhat different from the 1.42 project in its complete design. Therefore, the first flight model of the MFI was built in the design of "product 1.44" with a quite specific and rather narrow purpose - to evaluate the aircraft in the air, to determine the features of its behavior and controllability, as well as to "run in" new engines.

At the moment, work on the project has been stopped.

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