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PFI - Prospective Front-line Fighter
PFI - Perspektivnogo Frontovogo Istrebitel

The Perspektivnogo Frontovogo Istrebitel [PFI - Prospective Front-line Fighter] was a Soviet response to the F-14,- F-15 and F-16 American fighters developed in the 1960s. In contrast to the Americans, the Soviets produced two twin engine fighters, of remarkably similar appearance.The MiG-29 is superficially similar in layout to the larger Su-27, and unlike counterpart American fighters which are easily distinguished, a close attention to design details is needed to distinguish the two Russian fighters. The smaller MiG-29 was intended to operate within Soviet airspace, under the contral of the Troops of National Air Defense [PVO], while the larger Su-27 of the Soviet Air Force was intended to venture into NATO airspace, and operate using its own on-board sensors.

Deliveries of the MiG-29 to the combat units of the Soviet Air Force began in 1983 - they were the first to receive them in Kubinka, situated near Moscow. But the Su-27, which had a higher range, more “long-range” missiles and a radar of a larger radius of action, from the mid-1980s went to the air defense aircraft as fighter-interceptors. Later they appeared in the Air Force.

At the end of 1960s several countries started to develop promising fighters of the fourth generation. The creation of fourth-generation fighter aircraft began in the USSR and the USA in the late 1960s. Unlike its predecessors - the MiG-23, F-5 Tiger (USA), Mirage F.1 (France) - these planes were supposed to be multipurpose (that is, have the ability to hit targets both in the air and on the surface), have increased maneuverability and reduced fuel consumption, electric remote control system, new avionics and highly effective weapons.

The first to address the problem started in the US, where back in 1965 the establishment of a successor to the tactical fighter F-4C Phantom was started. In March 1966 it was deployed software FX (Fighter Experimental). Designing an airplane under the specified requirements began in 1969 , when the plane and was designated the F-15 "Eagle". The winner of the tender for work on the project, the firm McDonnell Douglas, December 23 1969 was granted a contract to build experimental planes, and in 1974 appeared the first serial fighter F-15A Eagle and the F-15B.

In response to the Soviet Union had deployed long-term program for the development of front-line fighter aircraft (PFI) on a competitive basis. three design offices have been connected to the topic. Initially, Sukhoi has not participated in the program, but even in 1969 in the Sukhoi Design Bureau were performed primary study on the TFIs and in early 1971 it was formally decided to start work on the product T-10.

Technical specifications for the newly created machine was focused on the superiority of the F-15. Air Combat Tactics included including neighbor maneuverable fight again recognized at the time the main element of combat employment of the fighter.

In 1972, there were two scientific and technical council of representatives "companies" Sukhoi, Mikoyan and Yakovlev, the results of which projects Yak-45 and Yak-47 dropped out of the competition. Manual CB MiG came out with a proposal to divide the program TFIs and create parallel two fighters - heavy and light, with maximum unification of the equipment that will speed up and reduce the cost of production and allow the country to have a fleet of two aircraft types, each focused on their tasks.

In 1972, a meeting of the Joint Scientific and Technical Council (STC) of the Ministry of Aviation Industry (MAP) and the Air Force, which examined the state of work on the promising fighters under the PFI program. Presentations were made by representatives of all three design offices. On behalf of the MMZ "Zenith" imeni Mikoyan, G.E.Lozino-Lozinsky presented the Commission a draft of the MiG-29 (still in the form of the classical layout, with tapered wing, the side air intakes and tail). MZ "Pendant" presented at NTS preliminary design of the Su-27, with a focus on the variant with an integrated layout (on the posters was shown, and the second, "spare" variant of the Su-27 - the classical scheme).

From MMZ "Speed" the general designer of Yakovlev projects presetned the light fighter Yak-45I (on the basis of a light attack aircraft Yak-45) and the heavy fighter Yak-47. Both were development schemes of the supersonic interceptor Yak-33 with a variable sweep wing and set it on the site of the fracture leading edge of the engine nacelles with frontal air intakes and differ from each other mainly only in size and weight.

Mikoyan proposed another solution to the problem - to the divide the program Into to two two is separate a PFI program, under the which it would the be Possible to 'continue' the conditions for creation of a Su-27 (as a heavy long-term multipurpose tactical fighter), and the MiG-29 (as with the Prospective front-line fighter), ensuring the Unification of both planes on a number of equipment and weapons Systems. The agreement was reached in 1971, with industry and customer research institutions forming the concept of building a fleet of a fighter aircraft on the basis of to two two types of to Fighters - heavy and light, just as was planned with the US air force.

In the early 1970s, when the US only conducted the construction of the first prototype YF-15, the command of the US Air Force came to the conclusion that for a more effective use of tactical aviation it was advisable to have in its composition a heavy and expensive fighter aircraft with a takeoff weight of 19-20 tons, with powerful weapons. And a significantly lighter and cheaper aircraft weighing 9-10 tons would have less sophisticated equipment, and limited ammo (only short-range Missiles and gun), but with greater maneuverability. As a result, in January 1972 the LWF (Light Weight Fighter) emerged, which was supposed to create a fighter, which would be in the same class as the MiG-21.

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