• July 24, 2024

Russia’s modest endeavor to counter the F-22 with the MiG 1.44 Stealth Fighter

Introducing the Mikoyan Project 1.44/1.42 – Proof that the Mіg Fighter Doesn’t Stand for “Make It Great” – Besides aviation enthusiasts, only a few might truly know the origins of the name of the Soviet “Mіg” fighters. There is a common misconception that it is a shortened version of its manufacturer, Mikoyan. That’s actually only partially correct, as the “M” stands for the bureau’s founder, Artem Mikoyan, while the “g” is for the principal deputy Mikhail Gurevich. The “i” actually represents the Russian word that means “and” – hence Mіg. It would also be fair to say that Mіg has never stood for “Make it great,” given the quality of some of its aircraft over the years.

 

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In fact, the bureau often took a significantly more innovative approach to aircraft design. That was possible with the Mikoyan-Gurevich Mіg-9, a first-generation jet fighter developed after the end of the Second World War. It was more than just a standard turbo-prop aircraft with a jet engine. The trend is largely evolutionary designs, many of which were a response to the latest Western aircraft continued throughout the Soviet era and even continues today. However, one particular aircraft still stands out as a potential leap forward. It was the Mikoyan Project 1.44, or Mіg 1.44 (NATO reporting name “Flatpack”), and in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.

Mіg 1.44: Flatpack or Facelift?

 

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The Mikoyan Project 1.44/1.42 began essentially as a technology demonstrator developed by the Mikoyan design bureau as the Soviet Union’s answer to the United States Air Force’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF). The ATF would eventually lead to the project that saw the creation of the F-22 Raptor, one of the finest fighter jets of all time according to many experts. The Mіg 1.44 would incorporate many fifth-generation jet fighter aspects, including advanced avionics, stealth technology, supermaneuverability, and supercruise. It was meant to eventually replace the successful Sukhoi Su-27 (NATO reporting name “Flanker”).

 

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Development began in the 1980s, and it followed a familiar trend with late-Cold War-era Kremlin projects, and it was delayed due to cost issues. U.S. President Ronald Reagan had started a costly arms race, and it was one the Soviets had no hope of winning. Yet, credit could be given to Moscow for even trying to develop such an advanced aircraft. The Project 1.44/1.42 was such an effort that likely seemed good on paper, but it faced numerous and lengthy postponements due to a chronic lack of funds. The 1.42 designation was used to signify the actual project, while the 1.44 was more specifically the program’s aerodynamic test airframe – of which just two prototypes were believed to have been built.

 

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It was reported to be an advanced aircraft that was to have made use of an internal weapons bay – although the demonstrator that was ultimately showcased utilized external weapons pylons. The estimated performance included a top speed around Mach 2.6 or roughly 1,716 mph. The project was put on hold following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the program was canceled by Moscow due to a high per-unit cost. Yet, the efforts found few lifelines, briefly. The MiG 1.44 finally made its maiden flight in February 2000, nine years behind schedule, but was then canceled for good later that year.

 

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Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) resulted in the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, widely regarded as one of the finest air superiority fighters ever developed. Today, Russia has highlighted the capabilities of its Su-57, its own successful fifth-generation fighter – yet it continues to face challenges in producing the aircraft in large numbers. Some things in Russia just never change. Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Succi is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

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