MIG MAPO has begun work on a new fifth-generation fighter design in the wake of the collapse of its 1.42 fighter project for the Russian air force.

The project, the Lightweight Multi-function Fighter (LFI), was revealed by MiG MAPO director of strategic planning Alexander Ageyev. He describes it as a "-breakthrough of high priority, which is planned to be realised before the end of this century".

MAPO is also working on a development of the MiG-29 Fulcrum, the MiG-35, to be fitted with thrust-vector-control nozzles.

Ageyev, in an interview with Russian military newspaper Krasnaya Zvevda makes it clear, however, that the LFI is a separate programme to that of the MiG-35.

MIGMAPO's 1.42 programme to meet the air force's Multi-function Frontal Fighter (MFI) has ground to a halt because of a lack of funding. The 30t-plus fighter has proved to be too expensive for the air force to procure in meaningful numbers. The highly ambitious project also ran into technical problems and has never got beyond high-speed trials.

Although Ageyev reveals no details of the LFI programme, it is thought to have been under way for over 12 months. Senior MIGMAPO officials have previously hinted that it was looking at fifth-generation designs other than the MFI, more akin to the USA's Joint Strike Fighter. Given the amount of work carried out on the 1.42, it will also try and draw on elements of this programme for the LFI.

MAPOMIG will be competing with Sukhoi for scarce air-force development funds. The latter has been pushing its Su-32 forward-swept-wing design to fulfil the MFIrole. A prototype, which may have started life as a technology-demonstrator project, like the Grumman X-29, is claimed to be near to completion at a Sukhoi site in Moscow.

Vladimir Ilyushin, Sukhoi's veteran test pilot, says that the aircraft is "close to completion", adding that it will be a "worldwide sensation" when it is unveiled.

Source: Flight International