But with RSK MiG claiming its proposal is more economically sound, feud between design houses looks set to continue

Russia's Lightweight Frontline Fighter (LFI) is likely to be based on Sukhoi technologies and design solutions proven on the company's experimental aircraft and fourth-plus generation fighters, according to statements from senior government ministers.

Deputy prime minister Ilya Klebanov says technologies from the S-37 Berkut, Su-27 developments such as the Su-30MK and Su-37, and S-54/S-55 fighter programmes will be used. Klebanov does not see a need for a competition between the two Russian fighter houses, OKB Sukhoi and RSK MiG, because "no-one else has similar technologies". But RSK MiG and, possibly, Yakovlev, could be given some LFI development work.

This mirrors a Sukhoi proposal to take charge of the LFI programme with others receiving some design contracts. RSK MiG, however, rejected the suggestion. Vladimir Barkovsky, head of RSK MiG's Mikoyan engineering centre, said that his company had applied to the Russian defence ministry to participate in a tender. "We believe our proposal is the best and optimal judging by the economic abilities of the country," he said.

In an attempt to downplay Sukhoi's technological advantage, Barkovsky says MiG has developed the earlier fifth-generation fighter programme, the Multirole Front-line Fighter, and it has flown its 1.44 testbed.

It is rumoured that the Sukhoi's LFI proposal is an iteration of the S-55, which was originally conceived as a single seat variant of the S-54 twin-seat advanced trainer. The latter is a scaled-down single-engine derivative of the Su-27.

Sukhoi general director Mikhail Pogosyan says the LFI could be 50-60%carbonfibre structure, the material used in the manufacture of the S-37's forward-swept wing. He says that the choice between a classic swept-back or swept-forward wing could be made later, possibly as a result of comparative studies.

Estimations of LFI development costs made by MiG and Sukhoi are $1 billion and $2-2.5 billion, respectively. The Russian Government is considering the establishment of a consortium to fund the LFI, in which overseas investors, most notably India, could participate. Aleksei Fiodorov, chairman of IAPO, the primary Su-30 manufacturer in AVPK Sukhoi, estimates that the first 10 years of LFI export sales could generate $1.2 billion.

Source: Flight International