RSK MiG is pressing the Russian defence ministry to revisit its choice of Sukhoi as lead developer of the fifth-generation LFI lightweight frontline fighter.

Sukhoi was selected over MiG as programme leader this year, and is due to complete a proposal and development schedule by year-end (Flight International, 7-13 May). RSK MiG general director and general designer Nikolai Nikitin says his company has a different approach to Sukhoi. "We are focusing on economic issues and do not see our task as designing the world's most powerful and best aircraft," he says. RSK MiG believes its offer of "a multifunctional combat aircraft" for the armed forces is the most attractive and cost-effective solution.

RSK MiG's proposed aircraft is smaller than Sukhoi's and would be a more suitable replacement for the large fleets of earlier lightweight fighters. Russian defence budget constraints could be eased by making the aircraft attractive to foreign customers, providing funds for research and development. RSK MiG is promising 35-40% cost savings, and up to four times greater export potential.

Foreign funding is critical to programme success and RSK MiG believes it has a greater knowledge of the fighter market. "Last year, we won five foreign contracts for delivery of aircraft, and four to modernise in-service aircraft," Nikitin says. This year RSK has extended "the geography of military-industrial co-operation" from 11 to 17 countries.

The programme should start once the air force finalises its specification, based on the economic outlook until 2020, says MiG. "Now we should continue competitive development of fifth-generation fighter proposals using RSK MiG's and OKB Sukhoi's own funds, while the budgetary money should go for development of critical technologies, weapons and avionics," Nikitin says.

Source: Flight International