Legendary and canceled Russian aircraft

MiG Skat flying wing UAV

Russia’s only extant flying-wing shaped, armed unmanned air vehicle (UAV) concept emerged briefly at the MAKS-2007 show, then just as quickly vanished without a trace.

The MiG design bureau displayed the Skat to a select group of journalists inside one of the hangars dotting the Zhukovsky air base, which also hosts the show. The journalists saw and photographed a relatively small vehicle, approximately the size of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel. Displayed around the aircraft was a collection of weaponry, including the Kh-31 air-to-surface missile, which could be stored in an internal weapons bay.

The Skat has not been seen since. The Russian press quoted a former director of MiG, saying the project was cancelled. In 2013 MiG signed a contract to develop unmanned combat air vehicles for the Russian air force, saying it planned to use lessons learned from the Skat for the follow-on project.


 Mil Mi-54 medium twin-engined helicopter


Military helicopters were the forte of the Soviet Union, and the Mil design bureau appeared ready for the post-Communist era. The company displayed a model of a new medium-twin civil helicopter called the Mi-54 at the first MAKS event in 1992. Powered by a pair of Saturn/Lyulka Al-32 engines, the 10-12-seat helicopter was set to challenge Western rivals such as the Sikorsky S-76.

But Russia’s economic circumstances in the 1990s proved fatal to many worthy projects, with the Mil-54 just one example. However, the concept was revived amidst the helicopter production boom of the last decade. Mil displayed a rotor-less cabin mock-up of the Mi-54 at the MAKS-2007 show. By 2010, though, Mil had moved on, telling Flightglobal the project was suspended.


Sukhoi S-21 supersonic business jet


Sukhoi’s S-21 predated the creation of the MAKS air show, which began in 1992. Three years earlier Sukhoi had announced a partnership with Gulfstream to develop a supersonic business jet design. The first flight was originally planned in 1993.

But Gulfstream’s marketing analysis concluded that more time was needed. Customers wanted something grander than an aircraft that was then only slightly better than the Concorde, which was still flying. So the project was extended to achieve first flight by the end of the 1990s. Russia’s decade-long economic crisis then wreaked havoc on Sukhoi’s finances. By 1993, Gulfstream had dissolved the partnership and started working on its own supersonic business jet project.

The S-21 continued to be displayed by Sukhoi at MAKS for several years, but the design concept was eventually replaced by a series of new models.


Sukhoi KR-860 Kryl’ya Rossii double-deck airliner

Sukhoi proposed a concept – the KR-860 – that would trump anything being entertained by the contemporary Airbus A3XX and Boeing 747X projects.

The KR-860 was to offer 12-abreast, triple-aisle seating on the main deck, with nine-abreast, twin-aisle seating on the upper deck. Passengers would enter and exit through conventional fuselage doors or a ventral escalator. The outer-wing section would fold to allow the KR-860 to access the same airports as the 747.

Those who attended the 1999 air shows in Paris and Moscow were privileged to see a 1/24-scale model of the beast, but that was the last anyone saw of the project in public.


Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut fighter

Su-47 Berkut

Sukhoi finally unveiled the Su-47 Berkut at MAKS-2007, but by then it was already too late for the forward swept wing fighter. Within four years Sukhoi would be working on a new design for a fifth-generation fighter, which would emerge in 2010 as the T-50.

The S-47 Berkut would continue to see service in Sukhoi’s fleet as a test bed for technologies in development for the T-50. But the S-47 concept – conceived in the mid-1980s – was already past its expiration date, and with it expired the dream of an operational fighter employing a forward swept wing and forward canard.



Tupolev Tu-334 regional airliner


Tupolev’s answer to the Sukhoi Superjet beat its erstwhile competitor to a MAKS debut by two years in 2007. The 102-seat Tu-334 was the basis of Russia’s original plan to replace thousands of Tu-134 and Yakovlev Yak-42 regional jets. It featured a shortened fuselage from the Tu-204, a T-tail and aft-mounted engines. Though launched in the early 1990s, only two aircraft were built by the time the Tu-334 made its MAKS debut eight years ago.

By then its time had almost run out. The Superjet was unveiled at the MAKS-2009 show, and United Aircraft Corp cancelled the Tu-334 around the same time.



Tupolev Tu-444 supersonic business jet






If the market wanted a supersonic business jet, surely Tupolev would have its say? The maker of the original Soviet supersonic transport, the Tu-144, and supersonic bombers such as the Tu-160 would not be left out of the conversation. The MAKS-2003 show featured the unveiling of the Tu-444 supersonic business jet concept, resembling a scaled-down Tu-144.

It emerged as upstart bids by companies such as Aerion and Supersonic Aerospace International (SAI) proposed Mach-busting concepts.

There may still be a market for the likes of the Tu-444, but no one, including Tupolev, seems to be in any hurry to find out.


Vega Lutch UAV

Unmanned or optionally manned versions of popular sport aircraft are frequently unveiled at major air shows, never be glimpsed in public again. So it was with the Vega Lutch strike unmanned air vehicle (UAV), a proposed unmanned derivative of the Sigma 5 sport aircraft.

Vega unveiled the aircraft at the MAKS-2011 show, but thereafter it disappeared. It is perhaps in service somewhere, but it is no longer in public view.






Yakovlev – now a division of Irkut – launched the Yak-58 as the Cold War ended, proposing a twin-boomed, single-engined general aviation aircraft for the post-Communist era. But tensions between Russia and Georgia – where the Yak-58 was developed – stymied the company’s hopes to fill hundreds of orders. The project was abandoned after 1997.




Flight Global

In 1968 a Tu-16 crashed while buzzing a US aircraft carrier

On May 25 1968, after a low pass by aircraft carrier USS Essex, soviet jet bomber Tu-16 commanded by A.Pliyev crashed into the Norwegian Sea . A 35 meter long flying machine is flying at a speed of 500 kilometers per hour, 15 meters above the sea.

After flying over the ship again, Pliyeev’s makes a turn. The cameraman turns off the camera and the accident happens quickly (and) judging from this film the camera man is in shock and forgets to point the lens correctly so in these frames we only see the sailors who are looking at something.At the end it’s possible to see a second Tu-16 flying around trying to find out what happened to the other plane.
This unique material was found at the National Archive, Washington

Russia’s Aerospace Force to fully renew aircraft by 2026

The Russian Aerospace Force will fully renew the pool of its aircraft and helicopters within ten years, Head of the Force’s Engineering and Aviation Service Colonel Yuri Sivokonenko said on Wednesday.




“The planned measures allow maintaining a high fitness level of aircraft while the pool of planes and helicopters will be fully renewed by 2026,” he said.




This year, Russian Aerospace Force units have received more than 100 advanced aircraft, the officer said.

“Part of the hardware is still being accepted and will arrive for the troops in December. Defense enterprises will implement their obligations in full until the end of the year,” he added.
Russia’s Aerospace Force’s Engineering and Aviation Service is celebrating its centenary on Wednesday.



Another crash for F/A-Hornets

U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Kyle “Chet” Turco. (RELEASED)

One of the Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornet jets crashed off Japan Wednesday, military officials tell CBS News, on the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The pilot, who was from the to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa, ejected from the plane during a regular training mission at about 6:40 p.m. local time, 120 miles southeast of Iwakuni in southern Japan, the Marine Corps said in a statement.

A search-and-rescue operation has been launched, officials said. The cause of the accident and the fate of the pilot are not clear at this time.



U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is in Japan for the anniversary. He delivered remarks Wednesday with Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada.

“It’s a testament to the strength of our alliance and the character of the Japanese people that a mere 75 years after Pearl Harbor, my friend and counterpart, Minister Inada, and I can stand next to each other proudly and discuss how our two countries can strengthen the security of this region together,” Carter said.

He stressed his view that U.S.-Japan relations have never been stronger. “America’s interests in this region are enduring,” he said in reference to speculation about the direction of President-elect Trump’s Asia policy.

The Marine Corps has air installations in at least two places in Japan, including in the large base on Okinawa.

This would be the 9th major incident involving a “Legacy Hornet” (including the Canadian CF-18 lost on Nov. 28, 2016) in the last 6 months.

Although each crash has its own root causes and may depend on several contributing factor (including the human error), we can’t but observe, once again, that the rate of crashes involving legacy Hornets is alarming.

Two U.S. Marine Corps F-18 Hornets from MCAS Miramar crashed on Nov. 9 near San Diego. Another one on Oct. 25. A Swiss Air Force Hornet was lost on Aug. 29, whereas a Navy F/A-18C crashed on Aug. 2. On Jul. 27 USMC F/A-18 crashed so as the Blue Angels Hornet that crashed on Jun. 2.

This is how we commented the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 crash:

“In the wake of the Hornet crashes from June through October, the U.S. Marine Corps temporarily grounded its non-deployed Hornets. Unfortunately, few days after the ban was lifted, two more F/A-18Cs were lost on Nov. 9.

Hornet crashes over the last year have depleted the number of available airplanes for training and operations. According to USNI News the service had 85 Hornets available for training, compared to a requirement for 171.

In order to face the critical shortage of operational fighters caused by both crashes and high operational tempos, the U.S: Marine Corps has launched a plan that will see Boeing upgrade 30 retired legacy Hornets (currently stored at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona) to a standard dubbed F/A-18C+.

With this upgrade, that will also embed new avionics, the service will be able to keep up with its operational tasks until the F-35 is able to take over.

Once upgraded to the C+ standard, these “gap fillers” should be more than enough to conduct combat operations in low-lethality scenarios like those that see the USMC at work these days.

Furthermore, once these “refreshed” Hornets are delivered to the squadrons, older airframes can be retired, improving flight safety.”

Once again: aircraft may crash for a variety of reasons, not always technical. Still, the rate of Legacy Hornet crashes in the last months seems to be unusual and, as such, concerning.



The Aviationist

CBS News

Admiral Kuznetsov loses second aircraft as Su-33 crashes into sea

The Russian Navy’s Admiral Kuznetsov air wing suffered its second loss in less than a month when a Sukhoi Su-33 ‘Flanker’ combat aircraft crashed into the sea following a landing mishap, the Kremlin confirmed on 5 December.

The multirole fleet defence fighter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria after one of the ship’s arrestor cables snapped, state media quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying. The accident happened just days after a MiG-29KR ‘Fulcrum’ was forced to ditch into the sea on 14 November after a problem with Admiral Kuznetsov’s arrestor cable had prevented it from landing before the pilot ran out of fuel. On both occasions, the pilots were rescued.

With these losses the carrier’s fixed-wing combat force of at least five Su-33s and four MiG-29Ks has been depleted by about 20%, just weeks into its much vaunted debut operational deployment.

While the ship was seen enroute to the Mediterranean carrying five Su-33s, four MiG-29Ks, one Kamov Ka-52K attack helicopter, two Kamov Ka-29TB assault helicopters, two Kamov Ka-27PS search-and-rescue helicopters, and one Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopter, satellite imagery taken of Humaymim Air Base in Syria on 20 November and obtained by IHS Jane’s showed a large proportion of these assets now operating from land rather than from Admiral Kuznetsov .






IHS Jane’s 360





New engine being designed for 5th generation Russian fighter aircraft

The United Engine Corporation (UEC), part of Rostec state holding company, successfully conducted the first ground-based ignition of the second stage of the engine for the Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK FA T-50 aircraft).

In order to carry out the testing, gas generators had to be prepared for it, in addition to the demonstrator engine.

Currently, the PAK FA is using a first stage engine, a modernized Al-41.

According to Pavel Bulat, avionics specialist and head of the Kupol Group of Companies, the AI-41 is an updated version of engines used for the Su-27, Su-30 and other models in that series.

“The engine for the T-50 was significantly upgraded from the original models, incorporating the latest control system, compressors, etc. Nevertheless, it still falls short of the 5th generation model, and is very noticeable on radar screens,” said the expert.





The new second-stage engine is one of the most advanced in the world, said Bulat. It enables the T-50 to accelerate to supersonic speed, and maintain that velocity throughout the flight, without using afterburners.





“The speed will be as much as Mach 1.6 (about 1,200 mph), depending on the terrain over which the flight is taking place. The engine will also significantly improve the stealth properties of the PAK FA, thanks to the use of new composite materials,” said Bulat.

The designers expect to start testing the new engine on fighter jets in 2018, and for the motor to be fully integrated in 2020.

“In addition to the engine, a radar station also needs to be modified, and engineers need to remove the last deficiencies in the airframe concept, which, among all the aircraft flying today, is the most modern in the world,” said the analyst.

New fighter’s weapons
30-mm cannon

The firing unit consists of one of the lightest cannon in its class, the 9-A1-4071K, which is designed to destroy armored vehicles or armored enemy targets. During one flight, the pilot can shoot 150 rounds from the 30-mm cannon.

The future T-50 5th generation fighter will also carry high-explosive and volume-detonating bombs, Sergey Rusakov, General Director of the Techmash Group, announced on September 22.

Rusakov said they are now considering high-explosive incendiary OFZAB-500 aviation bombs for the PAK FA, and volume-detonating ODAB-500PMV, which are currently being used in Russian operations in Syria. Engineers have already produced a set of warheads for future tests.





According to the rearmament program, Russian Armed Forces will receive a batch of 12 T-50 fighters before the end of this year. A new contract for the supply of 5 th generation aircraft will be discussed with the Ministry of Defense at the end of 2016, after which the War Department will decide how many new aircraft are needed.







Nikolai Litovkin
Russia beyond the headlines

Russian knights received the second installment of Su-30sm

Airport Kubinka:

Aerobatics Air-group “Russian Knights” received the four fighter Su-30sm, and on 1th December, will start to fly on the new technique, reported in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.




“The second batch of Su-30sm have just arrived in Kubinka from the factory. “Russian Knights” is fully equipped with new fighters, so from 1 December, the pilots will fly a new aircraft.” – representative of the Russian military department said. He added that the air group pilots passed the theoretical and simulator training on the Su-30cm in Lipetsk Air Base, and have already performed several flights with an instructor pilot.

“Squadron, which formed on the basis of air group” Russian Knights “, will now fly on airplanes of two types – the Su-27 and Su-30sm”, – noted in the Ministry of Defense.

Su-30cm is a super-maneuverable multifunctional fighter generation “4 ++”, with combined functions of a fighter, attack aircraft and bombers, equipped with radar with a phased antenna array, engines with thrust vector control and canards.




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