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LFI Light Frontline Fighter / LFI Lyogkiy Frontovoy Istrebitel

Parallel to the MFI, the Soviets also started the LFI program. Intended to complement the MFI, the LFI was supposed to be a cheaper attack-oriented multirole design, replacing the bulk of the fighter-bombers then serving with VVS frontal aviation. As with the MFI, MiG, Sukhoi, and Yakovlev would submit designs. As with the MFI, the LFI program could not survive the fall of the Soviet Union. Yakovlev and Sukhoi lacked the funds to pursue the proposals on their own as funding evaporated, and MiG - the winner of the competition - decided to drop the LFI entirely to fund the MFI.

Sukhois proposal was largely similar to the MFI proposals of its competitors. Using a canard-delta configuration, the S-37 was to be powered by a single R-79 or AL-41F turbofan. Avionics were to be built around the attacker role, with optronic systems taken from the Su-24 supplementing a multimode radar and wingtip ECM pods. The cockpit was to be protected by 800kg of armor, while 17 hardpoints were to carry various guided and unguided weapons. While not designed for carrier operations, it was to have folding wings. Full-scale development was approved in 1989, but the collapse of the Soviet Union ended funding. Sukhoi looked abroad to garner funding for the project, but such support never materialized, and the S-37 was abandoned.

Yakovlevs Yak-43 LFI proposal was unique as the only STOVL design submitted. Derived from the Yak-41 then under development, the Yak-43 was to incorporate an NK-32 turbofan to improve performance, as well as various RCS reducing features. Plans called for the use of forward and rear facing radars, while the more powerful engine would provide for better performance, higher payloads, and a larger combat radius than the Yak-41 from which it was derived. However, the program would not survive the end of the Cold War - with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Yakovlev was left struggling to support even the almost-complete Yak-41 project, let alone an ambitious stealthy STOVL design.

MiGs Izdeliye 33 LFI proposal advance further than the competing LFI proposals. Similar in appearance the F-16, it was an entirely new single-engined design with a far more conventional layout than MiGs 1.42 MFI proposal. An arching nose would provide the pilot with high-mounted seat for good visibility, while a large dorsal spine and single powerful engine would hopefully provide for a better combat radius than the unfortunate MiG-29. Perhaps most notable was its massive leading edge root extensions which would (hopefully) allow for better maneuverability. MiGs design would be favored over the competitors, but MiG would have to drop the LFI as the Soviet Union collapsed in order to keep the MiG 1.42 funded. Reportedly, data from the project was sold to China, who applied it to their JF-17/FC-1 fighter.




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