Russia’s enormous International Aviation and Space Show, otherwise known as MAKS, takes place every other year and is one of the top aerospace spectacles and military gear expos in the world. The show will kick off on August 25th, and will be the first MAKS since Russia invaded Crimea a year and a half ago. As such, we can be assured that there will be some pretty awesome displays meant to showcase Russia’s military exports, intimidate its peer state competitors, and levitate nationalist sentiments. Apparently, this will include the display of the long-defunct MiG 1.44 fighter demonstrator, an enigmatic aircraft that has long captured the minds of military aviation aficionados.

Translated from the MAKS 2015 official Facebook page:

#MAKS2015 for the first time in history, and without the cover the general public will be submitted to the aircraft design Bureau “MiG”, a prototype fifth-generation aircraft with destiny-”product of 1.44”, also known as MFI (Multifunctional fighter). Work on it began earlier than over American fighter, the F-22. The first public screening was scheduled for 20 years ago-on air MAX 1995. The demonstration was cancelled just hours before the start of the Airshow. A second attempt to demonstrate prototype fighter took place two years later at the Maks 1997. Again, the plane was never presented to the visitors. He first flew on February 29, 2000 year. And now, 15 years later, he first brought to viewers! Come see the historic exhibit “Legends of aviation”!

The MiG 1.44 prototype has been spotted shoved in back-lot areas around Zhukovsky Airfield and partially covered for many years. Zhukovsky Airfield, located outside of Moscow, is where MAKS is held biannually.

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The MiG 1.44 was more or less Russia’s answer to the Advanced Tactical Fighter program here in the U.S., which led to the F-22 Raptor. Because of the fall of the Soviet Union, the MiG 1.44 program was plagued with lack of funds and long delays. It finally flew in 2000, some nine years after it was originally intended to do so, after which it was quickly cancelled.

The aircraft was very large for a fighter and used a twin tailed, twin canard, and delta wing design. It was not stealthy in its early 1.44 prototype form, but a more refined version, had the program ever progressed, would have supposedly incorporated some low-observable features.

In some ways, the MiG 1.44 design may live on in China’s J-20 large stealth fighter, which some analysts think may even have benefited directly from the 1.44’s design and development. The two aircraft do have some remarkably similar design cues and proportions.

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Regardless of China’s fighter ambitions, MAKS 2015 will be the first air show where the old 1.44 prototype will be seen uncovered and in the limelight. The timing is especially interesting as MiG has recently announced that it is working on its own 5th generation fighter. It is doubtful, however, that Russia can afford yet another fighter, as it is having trouble affording its premier 5th generation fighter, the already deep in flight testing Sukhoi T-50. MiG’s design may aim to achieve a lighter and cheaper export aircraft, one that could largely take over its dwindling MiG-29 Fulcrum portfolio.

It will be exciting to finally see the MiG 1.44 in all its glory, and we will bring you photos of the aircraft on display as soon as they are available.


Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.

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