MOSCOW (AP) _ A new MiG fighter jet, unveiled recently as a Russian response to the latest U.S. combat aircraft, may never be deployed because of Russia's cash shortage, officials said Tuesday.

The ANPK-MiG company, which develops and manufactures MiG combat jets, invited a crowd of Russian dignitaries and foreign military attaches last week to the first public display of the new fighter, known as the MFI.

The plane's designer, General Mikhail Korzhuyev, said the MFI would have stealth capabilities and other features that would allow it to outperform the most advanced U.S. fighter, the F-22 Raptor.

The MFI, the Russian acronym for ``multi-functional fighter,'' has been under development since the late 1980s. The plane is scheduled to make its maiden flight in early March.

But on Tuesday, Korzhuyev and other designers acknowledged that the prototype lacks stealth features, such as an anti-radar coating for the exterior, and combat equipment.

``It's senseless to start with (anti-radar) coating on the very first plane,'' Korzhuyev said. ``It's not of major importance.''

The cash-strapped Russian military, though, has remained noncommittal about the new plane, saying it will decide the fighter's fate after it completes testing. Neither Korzhuyev nor chief test pilot Anatoly Kvochur have indicated when that might be completed.

``Our nation needs this aircraft, as it has a huge territory and vast borders to defend,'' Kvochur told a news conference Tuesday. ``Another question is whether there will be any money for that in the government's budget.''

The MFI must compete with existing weapons programs that have also been underfunded. Last year, the government earmarked only $50,000 to modernize existing MiG-29 fighter jets, which it considered a top priority, Korzhuyev said.