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Way-Cool Airplanes

By the Epopt in MLP
Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 05:36:01 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

As the Bush administration and the Department of Defense struggle over questions about the development of new U.S. warplanes such as the Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 "Raptor" air superiority fighter, Russian designers face even tougher challenges as they develop their next generation of fighters.

The lastest MiG, Project 1.42, sometimes referred to in the West as "ATFski", is a low-visibility multirole fighter with air superiority as the primary mission, intended as an Su-27/35 replacement; in short, the Russian equivalent of the F-22. It made its first test flight last year.

Meanwhile, the latest Sukhoi, the S-37 "Berkut," is a forward-swept-wing fighter. It has completed about 100 flights and is progressing through its supersonic test regimen at the Zhukovsky Flight Test Center near the Russian capital.

Both are extremely cool aircraft, but neither is likely to enter production. The MiG's design began in the late 1980s, but the cash shortage that followed the Soviet government's collapse has strangled its development. Its designers acknowledge that the aircraft is just a stopgap experimental machine, lacking stealth capabilities and combat equipment. The Sukhoi, with its highly advanced technology, has a slightly better chance of becoming Russia's fifth-generation fighter, but still has many hurtles to clear.

But in any case, they make great wallpaper!


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Way-Cool Airplanes | 28 comments (19 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Russians will never get it (2.50 / 2) (#6)
by hardburn on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:20:29 PM EST

They have a really cool plane, but it will never make it to production. They just ain't got no money.

Still, it is at least intended to be the first production front-swept wing (FSW) fighter. It would be intresting to see how it can do against the F-22.

The Rapter is also a very cool plane. That vectored-thrust stuff combined with lots of stealth and the ability to be supersonic throughout the entire mission would probably beat the new Russian plane to a pulp. I believe the Russians were also testing vectored thrust (perhaps it was the plane mentioned above).

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

Vectored thrust, etc (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by trhurler on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 05:50:51 PM EST

Well, the Russians had vectored thrust aircraft before we did, actually. They produced modified versions of a couple of different aircraft that outright astounded western aviation experts.

On the other hand, this "beating the Russians to a pulp" thing is just silly. Given the avionics gap we enjoy, yes, we'll always beat them. Our F-15s are more than a match for anything they'll field in the next 25 years, and our F-18 E/F models are even better, to say nothing of JSF or the F-22. However, if you were to put quality avionics (by US standards) in the Russian planes, they'd kick our asses soundly. Typically, their planes have lighter and stronger airframes(superior welding technology,) and their engine technology is quite advanced. These people know how to build things that go fast and are highly controllable. What they're not good at is weapons systems control and integration.

That's a detail people seem to have forgotten: air superiority is a function of the quality of your avionics and your weapons systems. Speed and maneuverability are almost irrelevant these days. Nobody worries about getting into a dogfight, because it will never happen. What matters is, who can fire from the greater range and still hit, who can fly farther, who can carry more weapons, and who has the better countermeasures. If you get hit, you're dead, and if you're close enough to make maneuvering count, then the odds are that you're not actively engaging your opponent, but just trying to get past him. Sure, there are rare exceptions - but you don't design for the rare exception. You design so that your force as a whole has maximum effectiveness.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Not quite true (none / 0) (#21)
by hardburn on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 09:13:30 AM EST

Typically, their planes have lighter and stronger airframes(superior welding technology,) and their engine technology is quite advanced. These people know how to build things that go fast and are highly controllable. What they're not good at is weapons systems control and integration.

Yes, definatly. I believe there is one special metal used to make very-high-quality jet engines that can only be found in Russia.

Nobody worries about getting into a dogfight, because it will never happen.

From Korea to Vietnam, the US military thought as such. They figured that planes were just too fast to be in a dogfight and missles would take out the enemey before any such dogfight could start.

After the US got its collective butt kicked in Vietnam, that changed (actualy, it happend as Vietnam was still going on). There were some very high losses and they tried to find out why. They figured that reteaching dogfighting skills would help. Enter the Air Force's "Red Flag" school and the Navy's "Top Gun".

It worked quite well. Losses droped considerably, though it came too late to have any effect on the ultimate outcome.

Today, the main problem with manuverability is not what the machine can do, but what the pilot can handle. Human pilots already can't meet what the F-18 can do, and the F-22 is even more so. The F-22 will probably be the first plane where remote control isn't just a good idea, but will be a nessesity (with proper use of encryption, of course).

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
Look at the planes, though... (none / 0) (#23)
by trhurler on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 02:40:40 PM EST

After the US got its collective butt kicked in Vietnam, that changed (actualy, it happend as Vietnam was still going on). There were some very high losses and they tried to find out why. They figured that reteaching dogfighting skills would help. Enter the Air Force's "Red Flag" school and the Navy's "Top Gun".
Sure, when you're flying escort for slow-moving A-10 ground attack aircraft. Thing is, we're moving away from using ANY slow moving aircraft except helicopters, and even those are being marginalized wherever possible due to their fragility, high cost/effort to maintain, short range, low top speeds, relatively low load bearing capacity, and relative likelihood of mechanical failure. When you're flying fast and firing from 50-150km out, there's just no point in any dogfighting skills. Also keep in mind that the US military in Vietnam was hamstrung mainly by politicians rather than its own abilities, but could not say so for fear of political retaliation - so it found excuses. The real reason losses dropped towards the end has as much to do with changing mission profiles and increasing risk aversion by the politicians calling the shots as it does any improvement from teaching pilots how to dogfight.
The F-22 will probably be the first plane where remote control isn't just a good idea, but will be a nessesity (with proper use of encryption, of course).
As far as I know, they plan to man them. They've got lots of unmanned stuff going on too, most of which gets absolutely no publicity, but there's a strongly entrenched dislike of any suggestion of sending an aircraft of the cost and capability of an F-22 out over hostile territory without a pilot right there in control of the situation. That's why the unmanned stuff is smaller and cheaper. I wouldn't be too surprised if they develop an unmanned option, but don't expect to see it used much, at least for awhile. F-18s can outstress pilots, true enough, but the F-18 has no problems as a result - pilots just don't do things like that, and it really isn't necessary, because their opponents can't do it either. Missiles are an exception, but well built missiles can outwit any maneuvering tricks anyway; the future of missile defenses lies solely in countermeasures.

Another argument that will keep F-22s from generally employing remote control for some time is the fact that an enemy could trivially disrupt the signal to the aircraft, at best rendering it ineffective and at worst bringing it down. Unless you have a damned fine reason to take that risk, the plane has a lot better chance of mission completion with a pilot and so it is going to have a pilot.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Russian planes are actually better (none / 0) (#24)
by uweber on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 08:11:50 PM EST

Although it will have to be seen how the MIG-29 would perform against a F-22 the German pilots who fly the MIG-29s we "inhereted" from the GDR Airforce, beat the American pilots and planes most of the time in exercises done before NATO bombed Yougoslavia. This shows that the MIG-29 is quite an enemy if their pilots are as well trained as their enemies.
The German airforce even considered to dropp the Eurofighter in favor of MIG-29s with western electonics.

[ Parent ]
F-29 ;) should be cool (none / 0) (#26)
by dabadab on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:58:45 AM EST

I remember reading an interview with some American fighter pilot who had the chance to fly a MiG-29.
He basically said that the MiG-29 flies clearly better, but its electronic was so bad that in a real situation he would feel much comfortable in an F-16.
So, if the MiG-29 really gets some cool electronic equipment, it should be a kickass fighter.
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]
Non symmetrical? (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by ritlane on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 01:47:33 PM EST

Did anyone notice near the thrusters on the Sukhoi Su-37? It is especially visible in the technical drawings. One of those cones near the back is longer than the other. Any one have any idea as to the benefits of this?

I like fighting robots
Non-symmetrical: yes (4.00 / 2) (#11)
by Vygramul on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:13:16 PM EST

It's true with our planes as well, though it's harder to see. It's to counter-act the rotation of the fan blades in the engines.
If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.
[ Parent ]
odd, that (none / 0) (#13)
by h2odragon on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:23:35 PM EST

Like can be seen in the s37diagram.jpg pic? Maybe that's meant to show they move? If they don't, and it really is asymetrical; I can't imagine how it wouldn't have a pull to the right worse than a '75 Chevy Nova.

Hint for folks attempting to link straight to NBCI hosted images: don't try. Apparrently they check the referring URL and if it's not from them redirect to the Xoom "you came from elsewhere and we don't serve content without ads" agif. Free webhosting is worth something less than the price.

[ Parent ]

ATF is not an air-superiority fighter (none / 0) (#14)
by weirdling on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 02:37:52 PM EST

The ATF's intended role is tactical. This means strikes at medium to long range against ground targets and enemy airforces. It is what the Navy refers to as 'force projection', and is the role for the new F/A-18F2.
The F-15 is still the air-superiority fighter and will be for a while. The reason is simple: the F-15 is much more maneuverable than the F-22. And, if this new Russian is somewhat stealthed, the fact that it is an FSW will give it a significant advantage over the F-22 and the F-15 in a dogfight.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
This reminds me (none / 0) (#15)
by spacejack on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 04:07:40 PM EST

of that plane Clint Eastwood had to steal from the Russians in "Firefox".

Haha! (none / 0) (#17)
by AgentGray on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 10:10:41 PM EST

Too bad I wasn't here earlier to vote on this.

This article has got to have the best ending on K5 ever!
I may be an arrogant American, but why do we need to develop an even more superior fighter/bomber/multi-purpose airplane. don't misunderstand me, I think they are really high on the way cool scale, but why aren't the planes now sufficient enough?

Please, somebody educate me?

Why U.S. develops new planes (none / 0) (#20)
by bgarcia on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 07:02:52 AM EST

I remember one of the design goals for both the YF-22 and YF-23 was the ability to travel at super-sonic speeds without an afterburner. All of our current planes require afterburners, which chew up a *lot* of fuel.

Now, I don't think the military is worried about gas mileage for the same reasons as you and me. But a plane that is more fuel efficient can stay in the air longer than the enemy.

[ Parent ]

Russian planes & Vectored Thrust (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by PenguinWrangler on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 06:47:09 AM EST

The Russians have been doing some really interesting things with vectored thrust. A favourite on the air show circuit is the SU-37 thrust vector control fighter. They do this really nifty "Stop Cobra" manoeuvre where the plane rears up (like the head of a cobra) and practically stops in mid-air.

"he translates to around 140 and then holds it there for around 4 to 10 seconds, all this at around 500 to 800 feet AGL, or higher depending upon who is watching. With rudders or through the slight asymmetric run of the thrust, the nose will start to drift. He can simply counter the drift with stick action or roll to match the axis of drift and then pull back up, or roll inverted and pull down, or hold his nose position. He could easily follow and point his nose at any conventional aircraft flying the "egg" around him and never have to extend his relative turn radius more than 200 to 500 meters. All this while manning his weapon system, helmet sight, gun, and missiles. In other words, the ultimate "knife-fight". If he is attacked from multiple directions his defensive warning system and rear-firing Archers are expected to work the problem."
more here. Another manoeuvre is the Kulbit.
"The most dramatic maneuver to watch is called the "Kulbit," Russian for "circle." The aircraft is brought up sharply into a near vertical position, except instead of continuing to fly forward belly first, the plane's rotation continues in the same direction completing an entire 360 degree backward somersault.
These maneuvers may be fun to watch, but in combat they could prove deadly. Both Cobra and Kulbit allow the Su-37 to rapidly strip airspeed, causing a pursuing fighter to overshoot. In both cases, the Su-37 would have the potential to end up behind the pursuer, allowing a missile shot. "

"Information wants to be paid"
Necessary Anime Data (none / 0) (#19)
by cvou on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 06:53:15 AM EST

The mecha designs in Macross Plus are based on two experimental fighters:

YF-21 Sturmvogel --> YF-23 (lost out to the 22 Raptor)

YF-19 Excalibur --> S-37 Berkut

I actually notice this quite a while ago. I've been wondering what design the YF-19 Excalibur was based on, since most Macross planes seem to bear some similarity to a real life counterpart somewhere.

Slightly Off-Topic Link (none / 0) (#22)
by Ruidh on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 12:41:43 PM EST

Yeasterday's Astronomy Picture of the Day had an awesome photo of an F/A-18 Hornet breaking the sound parrier.
"Laissez-faire is a French term commonly interpreted by Conservatives to mean 'lazy fairy,' which is the belief that if governments are lazy enough, the Good Fairy will come down from heaven and do all their work for them."
Russian Pranksters! (4.33 / 3) (#25)
by PenguinWrangler on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:00:49 AM EST

This story is quite amusing...

Russia's military pilots snuck up undetected upon the American aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan, reviving war games played out during the Cold War. Russian reconnaissance and fighter planes swooped low over the American ship and buzzed it three times over the recent weeks, after evading its battle group's radar systems.
Of course, the Russians first had to fly over Japan to get to USS Kitty Hawk, which means that the Japanese land-based detections systems were none the wiser than those used by the U.S. Navy.
Not only did the Russian jets, operating in pairs, feign an attack on the aircraft carrier, but they were able to take detailed photographs of what was happening on its deck, according to Moscow press reports.
"If these had been planes on a war mission, the aircraft carrier would definitely have been sunk," the Moscow daily "Investiya" commented. Only after a second pair of SU-24 and SU-27 planes buzzed the USS Kitty Hawk on Oct. 17 did the carrier scramble an F/A-18 fighter to intercept the intruders, the Interfax agency reported.

And from a crewman on the Kitty Hawk:-

a Russian Su-27 Flanker and Su-24 Fencer made a 500 knot, 200 foot pass directly over the tower. It was just like in Top Gun, shoes (ship's company) on the bridge spilled coffee and everyone said, "Holllllllly Shiiitttt!" I looked at the captain at this point and his face was red. He looked like he just walked in on his wife getting boned by a Marine.

The Sukhoi's made two more high speed, low altitude passes before we finally launched the first aircraft off the deck -- an EA-6B Prowler!

That's right -- we launched a ****ing Prowler (an electronic countermeasures aircraft, usually unarmed) and he ended up in a one v one (dogfight) with a Flanker just in front of the ship. The Flanker was all over his ass -- kind of like a bear batting around a little bunny right before he eats it. He was screaming for help when finally a Hornet from our sister squadron (I use this term in its literal sense, because they looked like a bunch of ****ing girls playing with the Sukhois they way they did) got off the deck and made the intercept.
It was too late. The entire crew watched overhead as the Russians made a mockery of our feeble attempt of intercepting them.

"Information wants to be paid"
I hate titles (none / 0) (#27)
by efarq on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 11:33:04 AM EST

This is interesting...Any links to a site with a story concerning this/further background?

[ Parent ]

The previous post is a verbatim copy (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by jovlinger on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 11:43:14 AM EST

... of the following link:


[ Parent ]
Way-Cool Airplanes | 28 comments (19 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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