The only prototype of the fifth-generation MiG 1.44 aircraft has been put in long-term storage in the hangar of Gromov Flight Research Institute, Izvestiya reports with reference to Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RAC MiG).
«The jet manufactured in 1990s in the network of a pilot program for development of the fifth-generation fighter is based in Zhukovsky. It does not perform any flights; the jet has been put in long-term storage and no one is going to destroy it», — the press-service said.
In other words MiG 1.44 will not share the fate of some unique Soviet aircraft. Earlier Izvestiya reported about the decision of Russian Ministry of Defense to destroy the first Tu-160 from a pilot batch manufactured in 1984, which was the symbol of the era of super-sonic bombers carrying nuclear weapons.
The development of fifth-generation fighters was started in USSR and USA in 1970s. The first fifth-generation fighters were put into service by USAF in 2001. Russian air forces plan to put the first fifth-generation fighters into service in 2016–2017. Such vehicles have a supersonic cruise capability, supermaneuverability capability and stealth capabilities; they are fitted with automated control systems and are able to destroy different types of targets.
The MiG 1.44 project (also known as MFI project; MFI stands for multi-role fighter) was started in 1980s and the first prototype was assembled by 1999. The jet was developed as a counterpart to US F-22 Raptor. Russian fighter performed two flights in 2000. After that the project was put on hold. Then PAK FA project was announced in 2002. This jet is being developed by the rival of RAC MiG — Sukhoi Holding Company.
According to the ex-Chief of Armaments, Colonel General Anatoly Sitnov, T-50 (PAK FA) developed instead of MiG 1.44 does not have enough potential as compared to MFI fighter. However, ex-Commander-in-Chief of the air forces, General of the Army Vladimir Mikhailov, believes that it is incorrect to compare these fighters because technologies and electronics have advanced over the last 15 years.
RAC MiG declined to comment on future plans related to MiG 1.44 prototype and four more prototypes, whose assembly has never been completed. Supposedly, these jets are stored at Sokol aviation plant. The company said that most information related to the project is classified.