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Why was the MiG 1.44 so similar to the MBB TKF-90? (for some information on the TKF-90 you have to scroll down this question, it is the only one source I knew about this particular plane)

Here is the MiG 1.44: MiG 1.44 (source)

Here is the TKF-90 MBB TKF-90 concept (source)

For me, these two aircraft are nearly unrecognizable. They were adversaries in those times, not partners. Has that similarity arised only because of the similar expectations from these airplanes?

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  • $\begingroup$ It wouldn't be the first instance of the USSR stealing another aviation design. In fact, most of the USSR Buran Space Craft was "stolen" via public repositories published by NASA during the Shuttle development (and fed false data as well). $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Feb 17 '16 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ If it was public, than it was not stolen, isnt it? Or at least the USSR can claim that they had good spies. $\endgroup$ – user3624251 Feb 17 '16 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ Notice the quotes around "stolen"? Basically yes, it was public domain, but stolen in the essence that they didn't come up with it themselves and took it through a spy agency, the KGB/VPK. The linked article also notes that the KGB spied on resources related to the TU-144 project, which looks remarkably similar to the Concorde... $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Feb 17 '16 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ For me, one is mid wing, other is low wing. One has low aspect ratio canard, other has high aspect ratio & anhedral canard $\endgroup$ – qq jkztd Nov 17 '17 at 10:54
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I once led a group of Antonov engineers through the aircraft exhibition of the Deutsches Museum in Unterschleissheim near Munich. There are two halls connected by a walkway, and from that walkway you can see the restoration workshop which is located between those halls.

When the group had long left the walkway, one engineer still stood in the middle of it and gazed down at the Dornier Do-31 which at that time stood in the shop for cleaning and repairs after many years in the open. I walked back (with one of our interpreters) and asked him what fascinated him. He said to me that this was the first time he saw this aircraft in person. And he continued that he knows every rivet in it. He had studied it in the early Seventies for several years when Antonov was tasked with developing a VTOL transport aircraft. In the end, they abandoned the idea (like NATO did a few years earlier), but this airplane had been the center of a part of his life.

Don't think bad of this - it is just good engineering practice to study what others have done. If you want to develop something, look what others have done before you and try not to repeat their mistakes. You might as well marvel at the similarities between an F-15 and a Su-27, a Concorde and a Tu-144, or a Space Shuttle and a Buran. In the end, they were designs made for the same purpose, and it is no wonder that they turned out alike. It just means the engineers did their job properly.

In nature this is called convergent evolution.

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    $\begingroup$ I would agree with "convergent evolution" had the two designs started off separately and then ended up the same, but at least in the case of the Buran and the TU-144, they actually diverged from a single design, not converged... $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Feb 17 '16 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ I agree. I was just curious. $\endgroup$ – user3624251 Feb 17 '16 at 22:08
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer: The Russians had studied deltas before French or British engineers did. Looking at the Concorde drawings did not reveal anything new to them. Agreed, the Buran was a me too, but only because the military was scared to be left behind. If you look at the actual capabilities, the Buran was quite a bit better. Could the Shuttle fly as much off range? Could it land autonomously? $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Feb 17 '16 at 22:11

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