MIG-MAPO is working on single- and twin-engined design proposals for its future lightweight frontal Ìghter (LFI), with a Ìrst ßight of the aircraft projected for around 2005. The Russian concern has previously made only general allusions to its work on a smaller, Ìfth-plus-generation, Ìghter to supersede its moribund Article 1.42, 35t-class Ìghter for the Russian air force (VVS).

Anatoly Manuev, MiG-MAPO's recently appointed chairman, says: "We are working on single- and twin-engined design concepts for the LFI. The twin-engined variant would have 10t-class engines, with a power-to-weight ratio of 1.3:1, while the single-engined design would be about 1.1:1."

He says that the preference is for a twin-engined Ìghter, given the increased power-to-weight ratio. Manuev adds that the aircraft would have to have a greater performance capability than any new variants of the MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker. There has been speculation that the MiG-35 project, an advanced Fulcrum design with thrust vectoring, was the same as the LFI, but Manuev says that the MiG-35 and the LFI are separate projects.

It also appears that MAPO has been unsuccessful in its attempts to interest the air force in the MiG-35, and its only hope of keeping this project alive is to try to Ìnd a foreign investor.

MAPO may have used design studies carried out in the mid-1980s into a Ìghter to complement the Article 1.42. The programme included several designs, although the favourite is believed to have been a single-engined variant of the Article 1.42 design. The project was cancelled in 1985/6.

A single-engined LFI might also use a variant of the Lyulka/ Saturn AL-41 engine, which was originally developed for the Article 1.42.

Manuev says that MAPO has agreed with the Russian defence ministry that the 1.42 prototype, "-will be brought to a ßyable state", with a Ìrst ßight before the end of the year.

The 1.42 prototype could be used as an avionics and weapons-system integration testbed for the LFI, as well as for aerodynamic evaluation should MAPO settle on a "son-of-Article 1.42" design.

The VVS, despite the setback of the Article 1.42, and its inability to afford upgraded variants of the Fulcrum and Flanker remains committed to acquiring a Ìfth-generation Ìghter.o

Source: Flight International