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    Competing Aircraft Designs of the 90's and Beyond

    Mir
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    Post  Mir Mon Nov 20, 2023 8:20 am

    lancelot wrote:I doubt the MiG-31BM is "less capable". For one it uses a flight computer similar to the one in the Su-35. Which is way more modern than anything the Soviet Union could produce in 1985. The avionics are probably a lot more improved. And I wouldn't be surprised if they miniaturized the radar in the R-37 to make the R-37M either. Which means they could then put more fuel in the missile and increase its range further. The MiG-31BM also uses LCDs, while those MFDs from 1985 would have been CRTs.

    Of those upgrades, I only haven't heard of the IRST and engines being upgraded in the MiG-31BM. But who knows.

    I'm sure there are many more modern systems incorporated into the BM's compared to the 80's designed Mig-31M, but even today this much older design offers some advantages over the Mig-31BM. For one it had considerably more fuel on board and it was able to carry 6 R-37 missiles recessed under the belly.

    In the early 90's the VKS showed a very keen interest in obtaining some of these aircraft. Even a small number would have made a significant difference, but no funds were allocated. The first contract for the BM's was signed in 2011 - 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union and only with the older R-33 missile.

    The R-37 missiles only became operational a couple of years ago - whilst it's development started way back in the early 80's - 40 years ago!

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    Post  lancelot Mon Nov 20, 2023 2:51 pm

    Of course any modifications to the airframe like the LERX or the six recessed hardpoints for the R-37 won't be in something which is an upgrade package for the original airframe. As for the one piece glass, what I heard was that the glass they were using to make that did not have the same heat resistance capabilities of the original glass. So moving towards it would have reduced the top speed of the aircraft. Which is why they didn't do it.

    With regards to the problems with trimming. If they do add digital fly-by-wire capability to the MiG-31BM like they have been working towards then this will cease to be an issue.

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    Mir
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    Post  Mir Mon Nov 20, 2023 3:25 pm

    I could be wrong here but I have not read anything that there were major issues with the one-piece wind screen? From what I can gather all performance specs were met and even exceeded. The upgrade of the BM's was from existing airframes and the general layout of the cockpit remained basically the same. The major change was the more modern Zaslon-AM radar and the refueling probe in the BM variant.

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    Post  Scorpius Mon Nov 20, 2023 3:29 pm

    Mir wrote:I could be wrong here but I have not read anything that there were major issues with the one-piece wind screen? From what I can gather all performance specs were met and even exceeded. The upgrade of the BM's was from existing airframes and the general layout of the cockpit remained basically the same. The major change was the more modern Zaslon-AM radar and the refueling probe in the BM variant.

    A few years ago there was news that as a result of the use of new materials, the windshield of the MiG-31BM no longer limits its maximum speed.

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    Post  lancelot Mon Nov 20, 2023 3:35 pm

    Mir wrote:I could be wrong here but I have not read anything that there were major issues with the one-piece wind screen? From what I can gather all performance specs were met and even exceeded. The upgrade of the BM's was from existing airframes and the general layout of the cockpit remained basically the same. The major change was the more modern Zaslon-AM radar and the refueling probe in the BM variant.
    I was talking about the 1985 MiG-31M. That was supposed to use the single piece windscreen, the LERX, and have six recessed hardpoints.
    Competing Aircraft Designs of the 90's and Beyond - Page 3 Mig31_10

    The MiG-31BM upgrade to the original MiG-31B airframes has none of those things. Because LERX and six recessed hardpoints would require a new airframe, which is what the MiG-31M was supposed to be a whole new build, and the single piece windscreen in the MiG-31M had temperature issues.

    We were just comparing how good the MiG-31BM upgrade is vs MiG-31M design.


    Last edited by lancelot on Mon Nov 20, 2023 3:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
    Mir
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    Post  Mir Mon Nov 20, 2023 3:42 pm

    Scorpius wrote:
    Mir wrote:I could be wrong here but I have not read anything that there were major issues with the one-piece wind screen? From what I can gather all performance specs were met and even exceeded. The upgrade of the BM's was from existing airframes and the general layout of the cockpit remained basically the same. The major change was the more modern Zaslon-AM radar and the refueling probe in the BM variant.

    A few years ago there was news that as a result of the use of new materials, the windshield of the MiG-31BM no longer limits its maximum speed.

    The Mig-31M was designed with a one-piece windscreen. The BM still have the original design.

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    Post  lancelot Mon Nov 20, 2023 3:43 pm

    Mir wrote:The Mig-31M was designed with a one-piece windscreen. The BM still have the original design.
    Yes. Because the glass used in the MiG-31M one-piece windscreen couldn't handle high Mach speeds.

    There is a reason why the windscreen was made as it originally was with multiple panes in the first place. Not all the glass panes need the same temperature resistance.

    There was also some sort of technology loss after the Soviet collapse where they lost access to the process for making high temperature glass altogether. Which means that the MiG-31 lost the capability to operate at high Mach speeds. This was rectified a couple years ago.
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    Post  Mir Mon Nov 20, 2023 4:08 pm

    Not seeing that issue in the literature I have but I'll look into it.

    Edit: I had a quick peek at some other Russian sources and they all say more or less the same thing - but no mention of the issue with the one-piece windscreen?

    It would be good if you can provide some credible citation as to this issue.

    State tests were concluded in 1994 with the successful downing of an air target at around the 300 km mark. Maximum speed was given as Mach 2.8 (3000km).
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    Post  lancelot Mon Nov 20, 2023 5:15 pm

    This was mentioned by a Deputy of the Duma. You will probably find it on either TASS or Interfax.
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    Post  Mir Mon Nov 20, 2023 5:18 pm

    Uhmmm ok!

    I did re-discover a 2012 book from Gordon on the Mig-31 and still no mention of the troubled visor. The only problem (apart from funding) was the R-37 missile which showed to have a mind of it's own at the beginning of it's trails!  Laughing

    Also mentioned:
    Interestingly, the increase in all-up weight caused virtually no deterioration in the anticipated top speed and service ceiling.
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    Post  Mig-31BM2 Super Irbis-E Mon Nov 20, 2023 6:22 pm

    Can anyone here list the differences between M and BM?
    The M looks more like an Su-35 from the front. Is the Radar bigger?
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    Post  Mir Mon Nov 20, 2023 6:44 pm

    The Zaslon-M radar was quite a bit bigger than the original yes BUT the Mig-31M does look nothing like the Su-35 from any angle! Laughing

    The larger diameter of the radar antenna necessitated an increase in the diameter of the forward fuselage and the radome.
    The nose was dropped downward by 7° to ensure adequate cockpit visibility. The last prototype also featured the prominent cigar shaped ESM pods with wiglets.

    The Mig-31M had a much larger/deeper spine and gave the aircraft a more chubby look than the standard Mig-31's.
    The LERX was also increased in size from the standard Mig-31 and the inflight refueling probe was changed to the starboard side.
    The cockpit also featured many changes including the one-piece windscreen and many other less obvious changes.

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    Post  GarryB Tue Nov 21, 2023 3:09 am

    There is a reason why the windscreen was made as it originally was with multiple panes in the first place. Not all the glass panes need the same temperature resistance.

    I find it rather hard to believe they would develop a new one piece wind screen for the MiG-31M and not check that it was heat resistant at the temperatures the aircraft flew operationally all the time.

    I remember reading western sources at the time it was shown they mentioned that it had to be heat resistant, but also that it had to be "bird proof" at the speeds it could fly at... which was said to be mach 1.5 at low level... which is very fast at low altitude.

    They talked about the shift of the nose for better visibility and also the improved forward canopy transparency, also for improved visibility, but as the M model didn't go anywhere it didn't get implemented.

    They mentioned that a lot of aircraft have a canopy in pieces because at the front they have to be able to resist a bird impact so if you have a very strong front piece that is quite thick then that is easy to achieve but the rest of your canopy can be thinner, which makes it lighter and also easier to see through which improves visibility.

    In comparison the F-16 one piece bubble canopy is thicker at the front and distorts the view a little, with the advantage of removing the support structure between the canopy pieces.

    Of course I find when I am driving a car when you are at a T junction the front and side views are not terribly ruined by the small blindspots where the window frame are located... a quick bob of the head checks those small regions very easily and quickly.

    The improvement in electronics would be significant so while the BM upgrade was not as ambitious as the M upgrade I rather suspect in many ways it was better.

    A modern fighter is a network of computers and sensors and systems, so that should be updated quite a lot over the time period... I have noticed myself a real shift in computers and electronics in general from the 1980s... even the start of the 80s to the end of the 80s I went from a Sinclair ZX-81 spectrum to an Amiga 500, which I thought was enormous.

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    Post  Mir Thu Nov 23, 2023 7:38 am

    The Su-27KUB Shipboard Combat Trainer also deserves special mention.

    (Summary from Yefim Gordon’s book on the Su-27 family published in 2007)

    Competing Aircraft Designs of the 90's and Beyond - Page 3 Su27ku10

    Much like the Mig-31M, the Su-27KM-2 (T10KM-2) shipboard trainer got the axe due to defense budget cuts but this project already came to none during the end of the 1980’s during the Soviet era.

    However as soon as the Adm Kuznetsov aircraft carrier became operational it became very clear to everyone that the Su-25UTG was not a good match for the Su-33 as a trainer. This led to Sukhoi dusting off the idea of a dedicated naval trainer based on the Su-33 (T-10K). Sukhoi provided much of the money to accelerate the development.

    The new project in the early 90’s became known as the Su-27KU (T-10KU). A full scale mock-up of the forward fuselage was built but once again the government was unable to fund the project.

    During the Kuznetsov’s first long range cruise to the Mediterranean during 1995-96 the pilots became quite vocal about the lack of a trainer version for the Su-33 resulting in the revival of the Su-27KU but this time the designation changed once more to “shipboard combat trainer” due to the experience gained during the Mediterranean cruise. The Su-27KUB (T-10KUB)incorporated many structural and aerodynamic changes - in particular the wings. It became the first Russian combat aircraft to feature direct lift control: smart high lift devices that adapted automatically to flight conditions - continuously optimizing the airflow. This ensured optimum lift, improved agility and increased range over the Su-33.

    The first prototype had the by then familiar Su-34 side by side seating and a two piece windshield and just like the Su-34 the aircraft, was accessed from below via the nosewheel well. However this arrangement was going to change in subsequent aircraft. At times the media erroneously referred to the aircraft as the Su-33UB or Su-33KUB. This was never an official designation and according to Gordon this made no sense at all!

    The Su-27KUB also featured a conventional ogival radome instead of the “platypus nose” of the Su-34. This was mainly due to the type of radar installed on the Su-27KUB. The flight deck was also somewhat narrower than the Su-34 which facilitated visibility during carrier approach.  The Su-27KUB had an IRST installed ahead of the windscreen on the centreline.

    The first prototype was basically the second production Su-33 mated to a new forward fuselage which gave the then unpainted aircraft a very patchy look at first! On 29 April 1999 pilot Victor Pugachev and WSO Sergey Mel’nikov conducted the first flight. The prototype suffered a couple of accidents giving it an even more patchy look!

    Competing Aircraft Designs of the 90's and Beyond - Page 3 Su-27k10

    The aircraft received a new coat of paint only in 2001, which gave it a very smart appearance.

    Competing Aircraft Designs of the 90's and Beyond - Page 3 Su27ku11

    In 2003 the prototype was finally fitted with TVC engines. Despite the “combat trainer” designation the Su-27KUB was a true multi-role combat aircraft fitted with a powerful Zhuk-MSF phased-array radar. Armament at the time included R-77M and R-73/74 air-to-air missiles and Kh-31 and Kh-35U air-to-surface missiles.

    The second prototype was started in 2001 but was never finished. It was to incorporate some important changes. The flight deck (now cockpit) was accessed through a more conventional aft-hinged single piece canopy. The cockpit was smaller and more streamlined. The folding wings featured double-folding wings to minimize deck/hanger space. The high lift devices were modified, reducing the approach speed even more. Stealth features to reduce the RCS were also incorporated. The avionics suite was not finalized but there were plans to fit the same Irbis Snow Leopard radar as fitted in the Su-35.

    The Su-27KUB would not only have replaced the Su-33, but also the Naval Aviation’s shore-based Su-24. The aircraft was also considered for the VKS - not only due to it’s excellent field performance but due to the fact that the folding wings allowed the aircraft to fit in all existing hardened aircraft shelters - including those for the Mig-21’s.

    Several important variants were considered. These included the Su-27KRT ELINT aircraft with real-time intelligence capabilities. An ECM variant (Su-27KPP), a tanker variant (Su-27KTZ) and the Su-28 AEW&C variant. The Su-28’s phased array radar would have been allocated in an elongated  pylon mounted pod between the fins and the radar set  housed in the tail stinger. The use of composites would not have hindered the radar's performance.

    It is a great pity that this aircraft and it's variants never entered production. It could have played an important role during the current SMO.

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    Post  GarryB Thu Nov 23, 2023 9:09 am

    That is something MiG learned with their upgrades of the MiG-29, the Su-27UB was fully operational with a full sized radar, just slightly less fuel, so for some missions that were labour intensive you could use your two seat trainers for the job.

    The only planes they didn't make two seater trainers for was the Su-33 and Su-57, but the Su-25 was used for carrier training.

    Learning the lesson the MiG-29M and MiG-29K and MiG-35 can be changed from two seat to single seat and back.

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    Post  Rodion_Romanovic Thu Nov 23, 2023 12:11 pm

    @Mir

    Yes it is a bit of a pity but many of the design solutions and lessons learned have been implemented in other aircrafts, like the Su-34 as well.

    As far as the SMO, I do not believe it could have offered something more than the Su-34 or the Su-30SM.

    Also because the Su-30SM is being used by the shore based naval aviation.

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    Post  Mir Thu Nov 23, 2023 12:36 pm

    The Russian Su-30SM was a bit of a late comer and made it's first flight in 2012 - mostly due to financial restrictions though.
    The SM2 is only now getting into production with more or less the same avionics and TV engine that was destined for the Su-27KUB back in 2000 - 24 years ago!

    A small number of the dedicated variants would have contributed greatly - especially the ELINT and AEW&C variants. Years back a proposal was made for an maritime variant for the Su-34 (Su-32FN). I can totally see the Su-27KUB performing this role as well.

    BUT believe me I am grateful that the Su-30SM made it into service! Laughing
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    Post  Rodion_Romanovic Thu Nov 23, 2023 3:21 pm

    Mir wrote:The Russian Su-30SM was a bit of a late comer and made it's first flight in 2012 - mostly due to financial restrictions though.
    The SM2 is only now getting into production with more or less the same avionics and TV engine that was destined for the Su-27KUB back in 2000 - 24 years ago!

    A small number of the dedicated variants would have contributed greatly - especially the ELINT and AEW&C variants. Years back a proposal was made for an maritime variant for the Su-34 (Su-32FN). I can totally see the Su-27KUB performing this role as well.

    BUT believe me I am grateful that the Su-30SM made it into service! Laughing

    By the way, those Su-30SM could exist only thank to the previous large Indian order for Su-30MKI.

    As far as Elint and AEW&C variants, I would much prefer to see a Tu-214 in those roles, plus a carrier capable turboprop like the yak-44.

    Furthermore both of these aircrafts (tu-214 and yak-44 like aircraft could also be made into a refueling plane).

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    Post  Mir Thu Nov 23, 2023 4:10 pm

    Rodion_Romanovic wrote:
    By the way, those Su-30SM could exist only thank to the previous large Indian order for Su-30MKI.
    As far as Elint and AEW&C variants, I would much prefer to see a Tu-214 in those roles, plus a carrier capable turboprop like the yak-44.
    Furthermore both of these aircrafts (tu-214 and yak-44 like aircraft could also be made into a refueling plane).

    Yes Sukhoi was very fortunate with regards to foreign orders, and as you say thanks to those, Sukhoi was able to finance several programs for further development.

    Regarding the special purpose aircraft - the Su-27kUB was first and foremost designed as an carrier borne aircraft. It was a lot smaller than the Yak-44, taking up even less space than the Su-33. The Tu-214 is a good idea but it won't really fit on the Kuznetsov, let alone take off from it!  Laughing

    However I have seen a model of something that looks a bit like the Yak-44 but with jet turbines and judging by the size of the Su-57K's alongside it is quite a bit smaller than the Yak-44. Nevertheless all those special purpose aircraft mentioned above were firstly intended to operate from aircraft carriers, despite being considered for land based operations.
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    Post  Rodion_Romanovic Thu Nov 23, 2023 5:17 pm

    Mir wrote:
    Yes Sukhoi was very fortunate with regards to foreign orders, and as you say thanks to those, Sukhoi was able to finance several programs for further development.

    Regarding the special purpose aircraft - the Su-27kUB was first and foremost designed as an carrier borne aircraft. It was a lot smaller than the Yak-44, taking up even less space than the Su-33. The Tu-214 is a good idea but it won't really fit on the Kuznetsov, let alone take off from it!  Laughing

    However I have seen a model of something that looks a bit like the Yak-44 but with jet turbines and judging by the size of the Su-57K's alongside it is quite a bit smaller than the Yak-44. Nevertheless all those special purpose aircraft mentioned above were firstly intended to operate from aircraft carriers, despite being considered for land based operations.

    Ahah of course the Tu-214 is only meant for ground based operations, like the american p8 Poseidon naval patrol aircraft and the E7 AEW&C, both based on the Boeing 737 NG.


    As far as the Yak-44, of course it would be bigger than a Su-33, but it will also have a considerably longer loitering time. Furthermore it would allow also the presence of specialists in it to support the AEW&C operations.

    Furthermore a yak-44 aircraft can be easily be made into a carrier borne cargo plane.

    A fixed wing carrier borne cargo plane offers many advantages to only being able to use helicopters including a much higher speed and range.

    The US made something similar many years ago: they developed the the C-2 Greyhound cargo plane for its aircraft carriers, based on the carrier borne E-2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft.

    By the way, also China is developing these kinds of aircrafts.

    https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202206/1269362.shtml
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    Post  Mir Thu Nov 23, 2023 6:16 pm

    Rodion_Romanovic wrote:
    Ahah of course the Tu-214 is only meant for ground based operations, like the american p8 Poseidon naval patrol aircraft and the E7 AEW&C, both based on the Boeing 737 NG.


    As far as the Yak-44, of course it would be bigger than a Su-33, but it will also have a considerably longer loitering  time. Furthermore it would allow also the presence of specialists in it to support the AEW&C operations.

    Furthermore a yak-44 aircraft can be easily be made into a carrier borne cargo plane.

    A fixed wing carrier borne cargo plane offers many advantages to only being able to use helicopters including a  much higher speed and range.

    The US made something similar many years ago: they developed the the C-2 Greyhound cargo plane for its aircraft carriers, based on the carrier borne E-2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft.

    By the way, also China is developing these kinds of aircrafts.

    Yes I have seen the Chinese aircraft and it looks like an exact copy of the Yak-44 design. I think the props are different though?

    As I've mentioned there is a model of a much smaller "Yak-44" with turbofans. On a carrier smaller is almost always a good thing as it not only saves space but more of those smaller aircraft can be accommodated. The smaller aircraft also indicates miniaturization of avionics and also automation (something the Russian are very good at). The crew would be minimal - in fact I believe that there will very possibly be only a pilot and co-pilot on board. It may well be a UAV?

    The range of such a "lightened" aircraft would be quite good and perhaps even significantly better than the Yak-44/E-2? Besides the on board Su-27KTZ would also be able to extend the aircraft's range. As far as a cargo plane - I think drones will do the job cheaper and better in the very near future. In fact most of the specialist roles of the Su-27KUB (like the tanker) would probably be done from UAV's.
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    Post  Rodion_Romanovic Thu Nov 23, 2023 6:58 pm

    Mir wrote:Yes I have seen the Chinese aircraft and it looks like an exact copy of the Yak-44 design. I think the props are different though?

    Well of course, the Chinese plane, the KJ-600 uses 2× Zhuzhou WoJiang-6C turboprop engines, 3,805 kW (5,103 hp) each (FWJ-6C) which are basically Chinese copy/derivative of the Soviet Ivchenko AI-20 (the engine of the An-12), which is used also on their y8/y9 cargo planes (copy/ derivative of the An-12).

    The Yak 44 was supposed to have two much more powerful engines.
    The Progress D-27 propfan, 10,290 kW (13,800 hp) each
    (Gearbox and propellers from the russian Aerosila).

    A smaller plane could be good for some things but will also mean less payload and less fuel for a tanker aircraft version.

    As for most thing it will be a trade-off.

    Possibly the engine was also much more powerful than needed to allow a ramp takeoff without catapult when not at full load.

    Anyway my favourite "lost" russian aircrafts or aircraft design from the 90s are:
    • Yak-44 AEW&C
    • Yak-141 (Freestyle"),supersonic vertical takeoff/landing VTOL
    • Il-106 superheavy military transport (planned replacement for An-22)
    • Beriev A-40 Albatros amphibious aircraft
    • Tu-304 short medium range widebody passenger twinjet (later reproposed as the frigate ecojet
    • Tu-330 cargo plane (but I have still hope for this)
    • MiG 1.44 (the chinese got really inspired by this when developing the J-20).
    • Tu-444 supersonic business jet


    By the way, I really hope to see a 5th generation twin engine medium fighter from MiG soon (ideally also in a carrier borne version) and a Yak supersonic VTOL aircraft.

    I just realised that sukhoi is the only main russian aircraft manufacturer which is not in this list. This again shows that sukhoi was luckier then the other manufacturers in the post soviet period.
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    Post  Mir Thu Nov 23, 2023 7:37 pm

    For this discussion I would prefer discussing aircraft that has at the very least made it into a wooden mockup - but preferably a flying prototype.
    There were some very interesting paper ware projects but they deserve a new threat.
    I would definitely include the Yak-141 and the A-40 Albatros onto my list of favorite aircraft for sure!

    As for Sukhoi - I believe it was not just down to luck but that they actually had the better product versus the competition.
    You see I believe that the Soviet's favourite OKB's were so used to getting their way that they simply got lazy along the way and you can see this in some of their designs. The mostly conservative Soviet Military elite was also part of the problem though - not just the OKB's

    One of the best examples is the superb Tu-160 - a design that was literally handed over from Myasishchev to Tupolev. Tupelov's own designs for this project was basically a stretched Tu-22M, whilst the other one was a modified Tu-144 airliner.
    GarryB
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    Post  GarryB Fri Nov 24, 2023 3:28 am


    By the way, those Su-30SM could exist only thank to the previous large Indian order for Su-30MKI.

    Well Flankers were being bought by Russia and China and other countries... much of the stuff that went into the Su-30MKI was French or Israeli, which is where most of the cost came from, they made money selling aircraft to India but probably made more selling them to China because they made all of the parts in those aircraft so China probably got much cheaper aircraft.

    Certainly they made more money on exports than they did on domestic sales.

    Of the aircraft designs that didn't make it but might still be developed I am glad the Yak-141 died, because unless they come up with a radical new solution to landing vertically then I think it is a dead end. A modern fighter wont be taking off vertically because it uses too much fuel and reduces fuel and payload capacity.

    I think a sensible approach would be to limit the VSTOL fighter to subsonic speeds, which would allow a high lift wing which would mean better fuel and payload capacity and aerodynamically you could be more flexible in terms of fans or lifting engines.

    Now that Ukraine is no longer relevant they can move forward with the projects the pro Ukraine factions killed like the Il-106 and Tu-330.

    Those three models shown at the last MAKS airshow from MiG look interesting... a very small very light almost LIFT like single engined 5th gen fighter looks ideal... people have said the light fighter has to be cheap and affordable, well this looks like a LIFT, except with internal weapons and a single engine which everyone keeps bleating on about... what is not to like?

    The main problem with a Yak-130 light fighter is that it is not stealthy and if you add all the avionics for self defence and for finding targets like AESA radar and then it wont be very cheap any more.

    This would have all the benefits of a small light fighter and it is stealthy with internal weapons... people seem to reject it because it wont be an Su-57... it wont have long range or heavy weapon load and probably wont be as fast as the Su-57... but it is a numbers plane... its critical factors would be to be stealthy to better survive over the battlefield and to be cheap enough to operate in numbers.

    It doesn't need to be fast or long ranged because you will have them based all over the place, it doesn't need a heavy payload either because there will be large numbers of them around the place.

    I can't see the Russian Navy going for a single engined carrier aircraft so the twin engined carrier based model would make sense for that, paired with a naval version of the Su-57. Would give performance and numbers to any carrier group.

    I like the A-40/A-42 as well and fitting it with PD14 engines would simplify the engine arrangement and improve performance, plus I would like to see Mil do to the Mi-38 what it did to the Mi-8 to create a replacement for the Mi-14... can't be a Mi-24 or Mi-34, maybe a Mi-314 or Mi-384?

    Mir
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    Post  Mir Fri Nov 24, 2023 10:29 am

    Since we mentioned the Yak-41 VTOL fighter:

    Competing Aircraft Designs of the 90's and Beyond - Page 3 Yak41-10

    As far back as 1973 it was decided to develop a supersonic VTOL interceptor as a replacement for the Yak-38. By 1980 the layout and general arrangement of the Yak-41 was finalized.  A two seat trainer version  was also planned - the Yak-41UT.

    The third Kiev class carrier Novorossiysk, was commissioned in 1982 and was supposed to have the Yak-41 on board but the development of the engines for the Yak-41 took a very long time to perfect and static tests only commenced in the second half of 1986.

    Since the introduction of the Sea Harrier FRS2 and the other Harrier II's it became clear that a replacement for the Yak-38M was urgently needed. Such an aircraft was the Yak-41 which became known as the Yak-41M and later the Yak-141. The Harrier II and the Yak-41 were both 4th generation aircraft and the first flight of the Yak-41 was made two years after the Harrier II in 1987.

    On 9 March 1987 the first prototype took to the air, performing a conventional take-off and landing. The first hover flight was performed by the second prototype late in December 1989 and in June 1990 the first "full spectrum" flights was performed including a short take-off run. By January 1991 the two flying prototypes performed 108 flights between them. The tests showed that the Yak-41 vastly outperformed the Harrier during full load tests.

    The Yak-41 had a much more powerful avionics kit compared to the Yak-38, consisting of a pulse-Doppler radar , a laser rangefinder and electronic warfare equipment located in the wingtips and fuselage of the aircraft.

    The R79V-300 thrust vectoring engine became the first engine in the world that allowed the use of afterburner both in horizontal and vertical flight modes. Thanks to the unique design of the main engine, the Yak-41 became the second aircraft after the French experimental Dassault Mirage IIIV, VTOL flying at supersonic speed.

    The Yak-41's weapons systems  was also much more diverse and more powerful than the Yak-38M and even the Harrier II. It was created as an all-weather multi-role aircraft for the Air Force (Yak-43) and Navy aviation. The Yak-43 differed from the Yak-41 in that it had a shorter takeoff (with a run-up length of 120 meters) and had a longer combat radius.

    The Yak-43 was also a more stealthy design with internal weapons.Armament included the GSH-30-1 cannon, R-27, R-60, R-73 and R-77 air-to-air missiles and the Kh-25, Kh-31 and Kh-35 air-to-surface missiles on its four under wing hard points. The  GSH-23L could also be suspended in gun pods. The Yak could also be armed with 80-240 mm rockets and could carry 6 bombs of all types up to  500 kg. It was a true multi-role fighter.

    During the test flights, 12 world records were set on the Yak-41 for the rate of climb, maximum load and altitude of flight with cargo. Most importantly, these tests demonstrated complete superiority over the Harrier in all major aspects. The Yak-41's supersonic speed was perfectly within the actual air-to-air combat "dogfight" zone and it's thrust vectoring engine would have made it a very dangerous opponent.

    The Yak-41 was slated to equip the Kiev and Tbilisi class carriers. The two flying prototypes commenced carrier flight trails on board the newest Kiev class carrier - Fleet Admiral Gorshkov (previously Baku).

    Full-scale deck tests began on board the Admiral Gorshkov carrier when, two Yak-41 prototypes landed on an aircraft carrier on 26 September 1991. A few days later the first take-off was performed but it ended in a heavy crash on the landing approach. The pilot ejected safely.  This accident was a big blow for the program, and it was also during that the USSR dissolved and the Yak-41 became one of many programs that were terminated.

    The fire damaged prototype was repaired as a static and was displayed at international air shows under the  bogus designation of Yak-141. Confusingly both the flying prototype and the one for static displays had the number "141 white" on the side.

    Competing Aircraft Designs of the 90's and Beyond - Page 3 Yak14110

    The Yak-41 was a true show stopper and was displayed at the Paris Air Show in 1991 and the following year at Farnborough, where it performed some truly remarkable "Freestyle" maneuvers.  Freestyle was the NATO name given to the Yak-41.

    Many western observers credited the "Freestyle" as at least 15-20 years ahead of the nearest  western rivals and this was confirmed when the Yakolev OKB's test pilot Andrey Sinitsen  established 12 world records in the Yak-41 during April 1991 clearly demonstrating that the Yak-41 had no equal at the time.

    Displaying the aircraft to the West resulted in the Yakovlev OKB's participation in a joint project with Lockheed to develop the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) program.

    Since then the Yakolev OKB has proposed various improved Yak-41 variants. This included the Yak-41M and the Yak-43 and also the "Next Generation" Mach 2 Yak.

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