A stealth tragedy
Russia's 1st 5th Generation Stealth Fighter: Meet the Secret MiG 1.44
Over the prior decade, Russia’s foray into fifth-generation jet fighter development has become synonymous with the upcoming Su-57. But the Su-57 was only Russia’s second attempt at developing a fifth-generation aircraft, preceded by several decades with an altogether different project.
This is the story of the ill-fated MiG 1.44.
In 1979, Soviet high command determined that a new generation of fighter aircraft was needed to ensure the competitiveness of the Soviet Air Force (VVS) into the 1990’s and beyond. The timing could not have been more apt; it was only several years later that the US air force began researching and developing what would become the highly capable F-22 fighter.
The project, which became known as MFI or “Multifunctional Frontline Fighter,” established a set of core design criteria roughly corresponding with the Soviet and early Russian understanding of what makes a fifth-generation fighter: supermaneuverability, supercruise capability (sustained supersonic speeds without the use of afterburners), low radar cross-section, integrated avionics system, and substantially improved landing/takeoff capability.