The MiG-144 fighter became the most fictional dream of Russian aviation engineers in creating a rival to the American F-22 Raptor.
The MiG-144 basically started out as a demonstration of technology developed by the Mikoyan design bureau, which was once seen as the Soviet Union’s answer to the US Air Force’s Advanced Tactical Fighter project.
The Advanced Tactical Fighter program finally saw the birth of the fifth-generation stealth fighter F-22 Raptor – one of the best fighters of all time according to many experts. The MiG-144 will incorporate many aspects of the fifth-generation jet fighter, including advanced avionics, stealth technology, super-maneuverability and supersonic cruise.
With its unique appearance, the MiG-144 was even expected to successfully replace the most famous Soviet heavy fighter family, the Sukhoi Su-27 (NATO designation Flanker). Development of the MiG-144 began in the 1980s, following a familiar trend with projects sponsored by the Kremlin at the end of the Cold War, and it was delayed due to cost issues.
US President Ronald Reagan waged an extremely expensive arms race, and the strategy severely damaged the Soviet economy, leading to the subsequent period of irreversible crisis. Despite the defeat, Mosvka still deserves respect for trying to develop such an ambitious fighter. The MiG-144 project was an endeavor that seemed to look good on paper, but it faced numerous delays and delays due to a persistent lack of funding.
Only two prototypes were said to have been completed. This was an advanced aircraft that used an internal weapons bay design, although the final demonstration model introduced external hardpoints. The aircraft’s performance was estimated with a top speed of about Mach 2.6.
According to information published by Russian media, the MiG-1.44 was built in the form of a multi-role strike fighter, delta wing, twin-tailed, single seat. Theoretically, the aircraft was equipped with the most advanced technologies, giving it excellent stealth and combat capabilities. The Mig-1.44 had an empty weight of 18 tons, and a maximum take-off weight of 35 tons. Other basic specifications include a length of 19m, a wingspan of 15m, and a height of 4.5m.
In terms of design, the Mig 1.44 has an aerodynamic profile that differs from previous Soviet boxy airframes. The single cockpit was located behind the small nose, the pilot sited under a all-glass two-piece canopy, giving him a great view. The canards had a leading-edge sweep of 58 degree and had prominent dogtooth which improved airflow over the wings at high angles of attack. The Mig-1.44 did not have horizontal tail fins like conventional aircraft, only a pair of vertical fins were mounted outboard of each engine compartment at the rear.
The project was suspended after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the program was officially canceled by Russia due to the estimated production costs being too high. However, the developer’s efforts made the MiG-144 find new life. It made its first flight in February 2000, nine years later than planned, but this was only the last bright spot before it died out.
Comparing what happened between the MiG-144 and the F-22 Raptor, it is clear that the Soviet fighter has failed badly, unable to become the answer to the American-made fighter. Today in some MAKS air shows, the MiG-144 is still displayed as a nod to a project that once carried a lot of ambitions of the Soviet Union, and then Russia. But hope is returning somewhat with the above design. Mikoyan recently introduced a future fighter of their own with the designation MiG-49 that looks very similar to the old MiG-144.