When I first read that (and I'm sure you fellas remember that load of kaka lol), I was pretty excited because I wanted to see the Russians give the Americans a run for their money and the F-22. Turns out, it really was a load of kaka mixed with some strong ass vodka! What ever happened to that "great" idea?
Have you ever seen one of those toy plasma balls... it seems to have lightning in it and when you put your hand on the glass surface a lightning bolt comes out from the centre and traces the shape of your hand.
An electric charge and some exotic gasses is all you need.
What the Russians were talking about a few decades ago was to electrify the air around the aircraft to make it act like ionised air... which would effectively absorb radio and radar waves of all frequencies... the problem is that the speed the aircraft moves means it would be like trying to cover it in smoke because of the speed they move it might be good to hide from radars from behind but most of the time it is radars in front of you that you are worried about.
It was not totally useless at the front of most aircraft is a big nose radome and the front end of that is generally hollow with a radar antenna set about a metre back from the nose tip.
What you can do is fit a bladder or gas container inside the nose radome and fill it with exotic gasses that turn into a plasma without needing to be heated to very high temperatures... like the ones in the toy glass balls.
When you put a small electric current through it creates a plasma that absorbs radar waves coming in and bouncing off the front of the radar antenna and absorbs them again when they bounce back through so any signal that might get through will be dramatically reduced.
Also when you want to use your own radar you can disable the power and it is radar and radio transparent... when you want to increase stealth and don't need to listen for radar signals then it is not complicated... you need electricity lines into your radar antenna anyway so the power is there, the space is otherwise unused... the exotic gasses might not be super cheap but they are kept and not consumed... they wouldn't be heavier than normal air, and it should significantly reduce RCS when you need it...
Of course hypersonic missiles can use their friction heated nose areas to generate real plasma from normal atmospheric air and they have mentioned that they have means of using radar and radio communication with these weapons... which suggests they have done a lot of work with radars and radio communication and plasmas...
Anyone know if the Khibiny ECM pods are permanently attached to a specific airframe's wingtips or are they removable and the weapons pylon installed and vice-versa?
They should be swappable... even just when a new pod becomes available and can be swapped out with the old one.
It seems like the pods are permanently attached to me and the specific aircraft that has them would have specific avionics hardware and software to work the pods and that they aren't really interchangeable.
AFAIK they are just pods that can be carried on the wing tips or carried on a standard pylon. When used on the wing tips they generally replace the pylon, but for example with the Su-25 pods often replace the AAM outer pylon because essentially they do the same job in a different way...
Just curious because it seems like the ones that do carry them are dedicated ECM platforms, while the others that have pylons only are not.
Have seen Su-33s with wingtip self defence pods too.... it is like ERA on tanks... they might not fit them in peace time but during actual conflicts most aircraft/tanks will have them and use them.
If they needed serious upgrades or changes to use them then they would be pretty stupid.... the whole point of putting it into a pod is so you can carry it when you need it or can put something else there when you don't. It also means you can buy 40 pods for 100 aircraft because they are designed to protect other aircraft in the flight... every single aircraft in a group does not need them.
I would expect the wingtip pylon is simply removed because those pods are design to attach directly to the wing tip... there are likely adapters so they can be carried on specific pylon types on other aircraft that don't have wing tip weapon pylons.