|Maximum speed (km/h):||-|
|Max Weight (kg):||30000- 35000|
|Engine:||2 x TRDDF AL41F|
|Thrust:||2 x 20000 kgs|
|Number of hardpoints:||12-14: some conformal|
|Air-to-air missiles:||R-77; R-73; K-74; K-37|
Mikoyan article 1.42 also known
as MFI (Mnogofunktsionalny Frontovoi Istrebitel - Multifunctional Frontline Fighter), and
sometimes referred to in the West as "ATFski" is a low-observable (LO) multirole
fighter. The primary mission of the 1.42 is air-superiority as the primary mission, which
makes 1.42 a direct Russian equivalent of the USAF F-22. The chief designer of MiG MAPO
Mr. Belosvet stated that 1.42 would have a greater range than the F-22 and would be more
versatile. While F-22 primary task is achievement of the air superiority, the 1.42 will be
as capable in strike mission as in air combat. The 1.42, like the F-22, can carry weapons
both internally and externally, will be capable of supercruise and powered by
trust-vectored control (TVC) engines.
In early 1980s the Soviet Design bureaus were to start development of replacements for the forth-generation MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker, capable of challenging the future Advanced Tactical Fighter (AFT) planned as a successor of F-15 Eagle. Analysis of the scarce ATF data provided a set of requirements for the Soviet fifth-generation air-superiority fighter, materializing in MFI. The Mikoyan's entry, designated Istrebitel'90 (Fighter 90), was built around the Soviet projections of ATF advances. After selection of the Mikoyan project over competing Sukhoi (very little known about Sukhoi's MFI), the MFI was reshaped and assigned new index -- 1.42. The first blow came with a cancellation of the related Project 7.01 (Project 701) in mid 1980s, a heavier and stealthier interceptor designed along similar lines and intended as a replacement of MiG-31 and MiG-31M. The 7.01 was to become vPVO (Soviet air defence forces) new interceptor, taking vPVO to new qualitative level the very same way as 1.42 was to change VVS (Soviet Air Force) potential. It is speculated that both 1.42 and 7.01 had similar origins, owning much to a MiG-31 Foxhound based canard-delta platform. Due to the lack of the performance required by VVS for its fourth-generation fighter, this heavy twin-engined MiG-31 based project lost to Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker.
On again, Off again...
Although its schedule has apparently been slowed by shortage of funds as well as technical problems, the first airframe is reported to be already complete, but problems with the engines have delayed the first flight. The 1.42 is one of the few Mikoyan projects which survived the multiple waves of defence budget cuts from the Kremlin, up until late spring of 1997 when it was announced that the funding for the unspecified fighter program is officially terminated. Many analysts suggested that this unspecified fighter program is Mikoyan's Project 1.42. However, at Le Bourge 97 MAPO MIG officials made it clear that the project is far from being dead and it proceeds at affordable pace funded by MAPO. In a separate event another MAPO official announced that the 1.42 (the fligh-test airframe(s) is often referred to as the 1.44) made its maiden flight at Zhukovsky and the aircraft might be revealed to public at upcoming Moscow Aerospace in two month (MAKS 97) pending on the decision of the Genshtab. This news was quickly picked by western aviation magazines and by the late summer 1997 it was believed that 1.42 (1.44) logged about 100 flight hours. However, several alternative sources suggested that 1.44 never left its hanger at Zhukovsky where two prototypes are stored other than for the high speed taxi tests. Its appearence at MAKS 97 as well as two years earlier at MAKS 95 failed to materialize, although it is known that the aircraft was shown to the government officials on both occasions. According to some sources MAPO MIG printed a brochure about new fighter, to be distributed at MAKS 97, but last moment changes kept both fighter and fliers from daylight. It is anticipated that first flight of the rival Sukhoi S-37 will accelerate "declassification" of the 1.42.
The 1.42 remains under the veil of secrecy
but expected to made its first flight by the end of the 1997 piloted by Roman Taskayev.
MAPO stated that the project will became advanced technology demonstrator and testbed for
further MAPO MIG project such as LFI (Legkii Frontovoij Istrebitel').
The Canard Delta
The origins of the 1.42 aerodynamic configuration can be traced back to November 1945, when Mikoyan test pilot Grinchik took in the air ungainly looking MiG-8 Utka (Duck, Canard). First flown just half year after the end of the war, MiG-8 was build to tests the canard-swept wing combination as a potential future fighter configuration. Although build by a team of students with little or no interference from OKB MiG, Utka provided Mikoyan with low-speed data of unusual layout.
In spite of the success of the winged delta MiG-21 Fishbed, which proved to be an exceptional platform for the second-generation Mach 2.0+ fighter, Mikoyan continued tests of destabilizing canard (Ye-6T/3, Ye-8, Ye-152M) and pure delta (MiG-21I Analog) configurations.
By the start of the MFI project in 1983, Belyakov had sufficient data on canard-delta aerodynamics. The intelligence sources suggesting that European new-generation fighters had a close coupled canard-delta layout, triggered intense studies of the layout in wind tunnels of Central Aero- Hydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI). The aerodynamic benefits of unstable canard-delta, its shear volume available for fuel and internal weapon storage, proved to be decisive in the choice of the 1.42 configuration. The 1.42's twin fins positioned at delta's trailing edge added to battle damage resistance and control of the aircraft at high angles of attack (AOA).
How Well Can you Draw?
Western sources published number of ever evolving artists' impressions of the 1.42 which can be sorted in two groups. The first shows an aircraft with two engines with vectored-thrust nozzles, inward-canted twin tails, slightly downturned wingtips, Rafale-like rounded intakes, and possibly foreplanes. The second group describes a more conventionally looking delta-winged twin-engined aircraft with outward-canted twin tails and MiG-29 style intakes. Some of the impressions show the elements of the low observable technology - flattened front fuselage and nozzle shape.
Another clue to a possible appearence of the 1.42 was published in the Flight International and Air Fleet Herald. The photograph taken at Fulkovo test range shows the mockup of the front end of the fighter aircraft mounted on the high speed cart used in the ejection seat tests. From the picture it is clear that the fighter's forward fuselage is a triangular in crossection with large sets of the canards behind the cockpit line. No indication of the developed leading edge extension similar in appearence to that of the MiG-29 or Su-27 can be found. While it is tempting to link this mockup to 1.42, Moscow sources indicate that it has little or no relevance at all. The forward section may also be one of the evolutionary steps with eventually led to the 1.42. Nevertheless, all post-Fulkovo artist impressions of 1.42 show an aircraft with triangular cross section of the forward fuselage.
Saturn-Lyulka was to develop an engine for the new fighter. This task turned out to be very demanding and Al-41F development experienced number of the setback stalling the whole 1.42 program. The new engine had a higher combustion chamber temperature -- 250 degrees than that of Su-27 Flanker's Al-31F -- which provided an outstanding performance. Although the original plans called for a 2D F-22 style trust-vectoring nozzles, the recent reports suggested that Al-41F TVC was similar to Al-37FU powering the superagile Su-37. The secrecy and controversy surrounded 1.42 and its engines produced many speculations about 1.42 TVC. The fuzziest comment was given in 1995 by RIA: "specially arranged nozzles to enable it [1.42] to hover over a target for pinpoint strike accuracy."
A Word from Inside
In the 1995, Alexander Velovich whose former position at Mikoyan OKB was "avionics engineer" (Ben Lambeth words) posted the message quoted below to one of the military aviation newsgroups. After leaving MiG, Alexander used his English skills and industry connections and became a well known for his articles in western and russian periodicals.
The best the RusAF could get in the foreseeable future are modifications of the current Sukhoi Su-25s and Su-27s, i.e. Su-39, Su-34 and Su-35, and MAPO MiG-29M. And even these modernization programmes have BIG question marks on them.