Mikoyan MiG 1.42 / 1.44 / MFI Technology Demonstrator
The MiG 1.42 MFI has served as an important developmental platform for the Russians.
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Mikoyan designed the MiG 1.42 in response to a Soviet requirement for a multi-role frontline fighter through the "Multifunctional Frontline Fighter" program begun sometime in the 1980s. The fighter was to directly compete against the end-product of the "Advanced Tactical Fighter" program being conducted in the United States (this end-product eventually becoming the production Lockheed F-22 "Raptor" air superiority fighter). The 1.42 was selected as the eventually replacement to the successful Sukhoi Su-27 "Flanker" series in 1986. While the designation of "1.42" was used to signify the project itself as well as the main prototype(s), the designation of "1.44" was used for to signify the program's aerodynamic test airframe of (which two are thought to have been produced). The two airframe types are differentiated by the 1.42's noted improved functions and represents the version most closely associated with a production-standard airframe. The 1.44 is essentially an aerodynamic demonstrator. In all, the 1.42 program appears as nothing more than a technology demonstrator for both the Mikoyan bureau and the Russian Air Force.
NATO MiG 1.42/1.44 Nomenclature
Despite the non-production status of the aircraft, NATO has assigned the two airframes respective codenames in its inventory nomenclature - these being "Foxglove" (for the 1.42) and "Flatpack" (for the 1.44). To further confuse things, the project aircraft are also known under the collective designation of "MiG-MFI". MFI stands for "Mnogo-Funktsionalniy Istrebitel" or "Multi-Role Fighter".
MiG 1.42/1.44 Walk-Around
The MiG 1.42/1.44 was powered by a pair of thrust-vectoring Lyulka-Saturn AL-41F series afterburning turbofan engines delivering 39,680lbs of thrust each. Thrust-vectoring allows aircraft unprecedented agility in the skies, particularly in lateral movements. The twin powerplants were aspirated by a pair of under-fuselage intake openings similar in placement to that as found on the Eurofighter Typhoon. The fuselage maintained a generally pleasing, well-rounded appearance - a far cry from the boxy airframes consistent with the Soviet Cold War-era. The cockpit was held forward in the design, aft of a nose cone assembly to someday house an active phased radar array. The cockpit featured seating for one pilot under a two-piece canopy with relatively good views out of the seat. The pilot sat behind an "all-glass" instrument panel and the installed weapons system was said to be capable of targeting some twenty aerial targets at once. Of note is that the technology powering the 1.42/1.44 was essentially equivalent to that of 4.5-Generation fighter designs and this included its fly-by-wire configuration and general construction and layout. All-moving canard wings were affixed to the forward portion of the fuselage to aid in low-level/low-speed flight. The main wing assemblies were themselves large-area delta systems with noticeable sweep along the trailing edge. The delta design meant that there were no "true" horizontal tail planes found on conventional aircraft. Vertical fins were mounted outboard of each engine compartment at the rear, notable in that they were well-spaced apart. The engines themselves were tightly set in a side-by-side arrangement and exhausted through their respective vectoring nozzle rings. The undercarriage was of a conventional tricycle type featuring two main landing gear legs (single-wheeled) and a nose landing gear leg (double-tired). Stealth was said to feature prominently in the exterior design of the 1.42 but has been dismissed as an optimistic claim by Western observers.