Butowski is well informed, this cannot be denied...Light Strike Aircraft, With or Without Pilot
RSK MiG, and Sukhoi too undoubtedly, are conducting conceptual work on variants of lightweight tactical combat aircraft. They all have a lower status than the PAK DP project, given there is no procurement or government financing for the variants under study.
Sergey Chemezov, the CEO of Rostec, to which UAC, RSK MiG and Sukhoi belong, told reporters in early December 2020 that the corporation is developing the concept of a fifth-generation fighter “in the light- and medium-weight class.”
“This could be a universal platform in manned and unmanned versions,” he added. On Dec. 16, 2020, Andrei Yelchaninov, deputy chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission board, told the Izvestia newspaper that “MiG is working on the creation of a light strike aircraft, which can be either manned or unmanned.”
Both Chemezov and Yelchaninov underlined that the work “is conducted on an initiative basis and is not funded by the state.” They also emphasized the export orientation of this project and possible cooperation with a foreign partner.
One of Russia’s possible partners is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In February 2017, during the IDEX 2017 exhibition, Chemezov announced that Russia and the UAE had agreed to jointly create a new-generation lightweight fighter. Chemezov proclaimed the signing of an appropriate contract later that year.
The aircraft would be produced in the UAE and was intended for the UAE Air Force and neighbor services. In the following years, apart from a few general declarations that the project is up to date, details were not available.
There are three known acronyms for Russia’s new lightweight fighter project.
The official strategy of UAC for 2016-2035 was published in December 2016. That document interchangeably uses “LFI,” an acronym translated as Lightweight Tactical Fighter, or “PLIB,” translated as the Future Lightweight Fighter-Bomber, as the names of this program.
In 2018, the United Engine Corp. (UEC) said in a presentation that the LFI/PLIB’s powerplant could be a single “izdeliye 30” turbofan developed for the Su-57 fighter. According to the same presentation, two modified “izdeliye 30” engines would be used to provide propulsion for the PAK DP.
The RSK MiG uses the acronym “LMFS” for its lightweight fighter project. In December 2019, RSK MiG ordered TsAGI to “calculate the aerodynamics of a lightweight multifunction tactical aircraft (LMFS) in a twin-engine configuration” and compare it with foreign counterparts. One of the known RSK MiG LMFS designs is a canard that has a large delta wing, with small control surfaces at the rear and on the sides of the engine nacelles. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 kg (54,000 lb.) and is designed to reach speeds of up to Mach 2. The ferry range with additional fuel tanks will be 2,160 nm, and the basic weapon load is to be carried inside the fuselage.
The current conceptual work on the RSK MiG LFMS is a continuation of the LFI lightweight tactical fighter program launched by MiG as early as 1986. The LFI fighter was later refreshed in the form of the E-721 project for the purposes of the PAK FA stealth fighter program. In 2002, the MiG E-721 lost the PAK FA competition for the Sukhoi T-50 project, the present Su-57.