During the mid to late 1990s the aviation community was tantalised by the impending debut of Russia's first fifth-generation fighter, the Mikoyan MFI. The MFI was developed to counter the threat posed by the ATF programme under which the F-22 was created. Mikoyan claims that the MFI's combination of aerodynamic properties, armament and avionics render it superior to any contemporary fighter, including the F-22A.
The aircraft rolled out in 1999 is apparently designated MiG 1.44 and is understood to be a demonstrator only. The planned production MFI was referred to as the 1.42. and would have a slightly different air intake design, an internal weapons bay (faired over on the 1.44) and, possibly, cranked-delta wings. The 1.44/1.42 is the first Russian fighter to employ a tail-first configuration. Weapons are mostly carried in an internal bay in the centre fuselage (faired over on the 1.44).
It is believed, that the MFI is equipped with a pulse-Doppler fire control radar persistently referred to as NO-14. This phased-array unit is designed for beyond visual range combat and has the ability to attack six targets at a time.
Prototype construction began in 1989, and after lengthy ground tests, the 1.44 made its first high-speed run in late 1994. Unfortunately, the programme had to be suspended before the 1.44 could become airborne due to ANPK MiG's dire financial problems. The 1.44 remained classified by the Russian Defense Ministry until it was finally publicly unveiled in January 1999. After great delay, the 1.44 finally made its brief but important first flight in January 2001. The future of the MFI remains unclear, and the line between it and the 1.44 remains equally blurred. It seems that the MFI programme was abandoned. The Russian air force's officially selected the new Sukhoi PAK FA as it's new fifth-generation fighter.
However in 2010 photos of the new Chinese J-20 stealthy multi-role fighter appeared, which is very similar to the MiG 1.42. It is speculated, that development of the J-20 was assisted by the MiG aviation company.