The Russian air force has postponed a decision on the selection of RSKMiGor Sukhoi to develop the LFI next-generation fighter.

Following hearings earlier this month, the air force has decided to allow both companies to continue feasibility studies rather than select a manufacturer by the end of this month as previously planned.

According to Moscow press reports, the selection will be delayed by several months, partly because of the recent resignation of Ilya Klebanov, vice-premier for the military-industrial complex, and air force commander Anatoly Kornukov. Both had favoured giving the LFI development contract to Sukhoi without a competition. This plan was overturned last September (Flight International, 25 September - 1 October, 2001).

Newly appointed air force commander Col Gen Vladimir Mikhailov is understood to have taken personal responsibility for selecting an LFI developer, and has so far not revealed a preference.

It also emerged during the hearings that the government will have to provide a far higher level of funding, with the previously quoted $1.5 billion considered only enough for research and development. This means that an additional $5 billion will be necessary to develop the aircraft and set up a production line.

Earlier it was envisaged that the state would contribute 20-22% of R&D funding, with another $1 billion coming from the manufacturers. The rest would come from other countries interested in the programme such as India and possibly China.

It is planned that the LFI will enter production in 2008-9 with first deliveries in 2010.

Source: Flight International