Not the Su-57, but the MiG-1.44 is Russia’s first 5th generation fighter.

Not the Su-57, but the MiG-1.44 is Russia’s first 5th generation fighter. It was created to counterbalance the US F-22, but irreparable technical factors combined with a tight development budget caused the aircraft to die prematurely. The MiG-1.44 was once considered a revolutionary aircraft for the Russian aviation industry. Unique design, good maneuverability, high weapon payload, modern avionics system, MiG-1.44 even outperformed Su-47 contemporaries of Sukhoi.

The Soviet Union began designing and constructing fifth-generation fighters long before the appearance of the PAK FA project, which later known as the Su-57. In 1987, this defense project was approved, and in 1989 there was a preliminary design of a heavy multi-role aircraft, also known as the MiG-1.44.

Mikoyan Project 1.44
Mikoyan Project 1.44

The project was halted in 1991 after the political crisis. Russia then took over the project, and after all efforts a prototype was completed, officially announced in January 1999. The prototype made its maiden flight on February 29, 2000.

The final specifications of the MiG 1.44 remain a mystery. 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 MiG-1.44 was powered by a pair of thrust-vectoring Lyulka-Saturn AL-41F series afterburning turbofan engines delivering 176 kN  of thrust each with afterburner. This was the first engine in the world to featured thrust-vectoring.  Theoretically, the Mig-1.44 could reach a maximum speed of 2,760 km/h, equivalent to Mach 2.24, a range of 4,000 km, a service ceiling of 17,000m.

The fighter was equipped with a glass cockpit and features a Pulse-Doppler radar. The radar system has a passive electronically scanned array antenna and is linked to a fire-control system. The standard internal weapon fitting was a single 30mm Izhmash GSh-301 series cannon for close-in self-defense with 250 rounds. Other weapons included R-77, R-73 and R-37 air-to-air missiles. Drop tanks could be carried under the wings as well.

In 2000, the MiG-1.44 prototype flew twice, and then the project was shelved for reasons that weren’t really clear. According to some Russian military sources, the main reason for the freezing of the MiG-1.44 project was that Moscow had made its choice with the fifth-generation stealth fighter. Specifically, the Russian Air Force chose the PAK FA for its fifth generation stealth fighter program.


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