Russia’s MiG Corporation has initiated work on a fifth-gen carrier Based Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
"Now (the project) is in a stage of computer modeling, the first prototypes of the machine are planned to be released in the next few years," Ria Novosti reported quoting a company source.
The aircraft is expected to have the dimensions of the MiG-35. Along with the aircraft, an unmanned aerial vehicle will also be developed to function as a ‘loyal wingman.’ The drone could be used for aerial refueling or for launching a missile.
“The device (drone) should be used in conjunction with a fighter in the framework of the “faithful wingman ”concept. Its functions are either refueling or joint strikes,” the source added.
Russia is lacking in aircraft-carrier based fighter aircraft with its MiG-29K and Su-33 beset by a variety of problems. It is way behind the F-35B in terms of aircraft carrier based aircraft. The new project could take years to materialize given the ambitious nature of technologies required t create a carrier-borne stealth jet with VTOL capability and managing a loyal wingman drone.
Russia has contract to supply the MiG-29K to India’s next aircraft carrier. However, it is facing stiff competition from the American F/A-18 which has even got the aircraft tested on a ski-jump which is deployed India’s upcoming carrier.