Turns out, the dreaded Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA is not the only fifth-generation fighter jet under development by Russia. The PAK FA is expected to enter services in 2017. But the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG is developing yet another cutting-edge lightweight fifth generation fight jet. The new lightweight fighter jet will be based on Mikoyan Project 1.44 (NATO reporting name: Flatpack), reports Sputnik News.The problem is, even this new project relies on technology developed nearly two decades ago:
The Mikoyan Project 1.44 was meant to develop an alternative to the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) project of the United States that led to the development of Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The aircraft made its first flight in 2000. It boasted of stealth technology, advanced avionics, super-cruise, and super-maneuverability. However, Russia shut down the project over a decade ago.Ultimately, the short-coming here is that Russia lacks the funding to develop something truly new, and so it is recycling old ideas and pretending they are new, competitive aircraft that are superior to what the U.S. is fielding.. It simply isn't true. The so-called new fighter will be no such thing:
On Tuesday, MiG CEO Sergei Korotkov said that the company will use the experience gained from the Project 1.44 to develop the new fifth-generation fighter jet. He added that the new plane will also use some of the technology developed for MiG-35 (Fulcrum-F) air superiority fighter. The new fifth-generation jet is supposed to replace the ageing MiG-29, which was first introduced in 1983.Project 1.44 and the MiG-35 both are simply upgrades of the MiG-29. Just as upgrades have improved the F-16 and F-15 for the U.S., these upgrades likely will improve the MiG-29, but it still will be just an improved MiG-29. That's a fine fighter for its day, but both the F-16 and the F-15 could kick its ass when it was new, and they can kick its ass now. So can the F-22 and F-35, both of which are true fifth-generation fighters. It would appear that what Russia is developing now is simply a fourth-generation-plus fighter, much like the FA-18 upgrades that we call the Super Hornet. Great plane, but not fifth-generation.
The fact that Russia already is trying to develop a new fifth-generation fighter before its first one is even deployed says a lot. Frankly, I don't think either one will prove to be a true fifth-generation fighter. It's not easy to create one on paper. It's even harder to create one in the real world. It doesn't sound like Russia has managed to do that so far.