We have already described history the design of domestic TAKR and its strange dualism - while the fleet with 1968 r developed atomic ejection aircraft carriers, he was forced to build steam-turbine carriers of VTOL. The air groups of the ejection ships were supposed to be equipped with deck modifications of the MiG-23 fighter (draft designs of the deck MiG-23А and MiG-23К were developed in 1972 and 1977 respectively), but later, as the new fighters of the 4 generation were ready, it should was to replace the carrier-based fighter, based on the Su-27. The first development of the deck Su-27 was carried out by the Sukhoi Design Bureau as far back as 1973 in connection with the constant postponement of the construction of ejection aircraft carriers and around 1977-1978. MiG-23 was finally rejected from “re-unloading”, but in 1978, the MMP for them. A.I. Mikoyan took the initiative to include the deck version of the 4-generation MiG-29 fighter in the future TAKR air groups. It was assumed that the relatively light decked MiGs would complement the heavy Su-27 just as it was supposed to do in the Air Force, and the proposal was accepted.
At the same time, and in parallel with all of the above, the Yakovlev Design Bureau developed aircraft for vertical takeoff and landing. This process was launched on December 27 1967, when the Decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and USSR Council No.1166-413 was issued, which were instructed to start the light attack aircraft Yak-36М, and then, in the future, front-range VTOL fighter. As you know, lightweight attack aircraft designers Yakovlev managed to create - in 1977 g Yak-36M under the designation Yak-38 was adopted. But with the fighter the case did not go flatly - the fighter-attack aircraft Yak-39 with new lifting engines, an extended range of equipment and weapons had a meager range of flight. Even with a short take-off and combat load of 1 ton, its combat radius did not exceed 200 km, and this was, of course, completely inadequate. Nevertheless, the Yakovlev Design Bureau continued to work on the VTOL aircraft.
Designers Yakovlev tried to wipe the supersonic fighter - the first studies of such a machine were made in 1974 g (Yak-41, "product 48"). Then, in 1977, the Government decided to create a supersonic fighter aircraft (VTOL) and present it for state tests for 1982. At the same time, according to the new Decree, the Yakovlev design bureau was required to submit a technical proposal to create a Yak-41 supersonic attack aircraft.
In other words, by the end of the 70s, some leaders (and especially DF Ustinov, who advocated the development of a VTOL aircraft) could have the opinion that creating supersonic vertical take-off and landing aircraft with a sufficient radius of action is not far off. Probably, this is precisely the reason for his instructions to stop the design of ejection aircraft-carrying ships and to build in the future TAKR-carriers of VTOLS with a displacement of no more than 45 000 t., Equipped with a springboard.
In other words, the following was obtained. The difference between the MiG-29 (not to mention the Su-27) and the Yak-38 in the air defense capabilities was not just enormous, it was in the literal sense of the word incompatible with each other: the Yak-38 with a bang was lost to the newest 4 generation aircraft by all parameters. But the Yak-41 was another matter, although it was not equal to the MiG-29, but nevertheless, it was already comparable with it in some parameters (for example, the installation of the MiG-41 radar was assumed on the Yak-29). In addition, it was assumed that the Yak-41 would not have to take off exclusively vertically - for it was originally supposed to take off from a short run, which was diplomatically called the Yakovlev Design Bureau diplomatically called “super-short vertical inclined take-off”. This increased the capabilities of VTOL.
Springboard increased the take-off weight of the Yak-41, which means its combat load or range even more. This brought the capabilities of the Yak-41 to the MiG-29 even closer, the springboard made it possible for the Yak-41 to be able to perform not only the air defense functions of the compound, but also to deliver rocket-bombing strikes on surface and coastal targets. All this allowed DF. Ustinov again consider the VTOLS as an alternative to deck aircraft horizontal takeoff and landing.
It must be said that this moment in disputes “which is better - a springboard or a catapult” is usually completely ignored. The fact is that supporters of the catapult and its opponents usually see the springboard as an alternative to the catapult as a means of taking off planes of horizontal takeoff and landing. But initially the catapult was not proposed for this. In essence, D.F. Ustinov proposed to abandon the aircraft horizontal takeoff and landing in favor of the VTOL, and the springboard was considered only as a means of increasing the capabilities of VTOL. In other words, at that moment no one asked the question: “What is better - a catapult or a springboard for horizontal takeoff aircraft?”. Order df Ustinov boiled down to: “Let's remove the horizontal take-off and landing aircraft from the ship in general, we leave only the VTOL aircraft, and in order for them to fly better, we will make a springboard for them”.
In response, the leaders of the MMP for them. A.I. Mikoyan and MH them. BY. Sukhoi, supported by the Air Force Command, proposed to continue work on the Su-27K and MiG-29K - due to the high thrust-to-weight ratio, these aircraft could be adapted for take-off from the springboard. Df Ustinov (perhaps with regard to the rather modest practical results of the VTOL program, or perhaps because of some other reasons) still did not fold the eggs into one basket. Yes, he believed that the air group of the future TAKR would consist of VTOL, but he did not prohibit the development of deck versions of the MiG-29 and Su-27. Strictly speaking, its position relative to these aircraft has been reduced to the following: “Do you want horizontal takeoff airplanes to be on the decks of ships? Well, then you have to teach them to take off from the springboard! ”
So, in fact, in 1980 g, the “race of three fighters” began for the right to take a place on the flight deck and in the hangars of the Soviet TAKR. But each KB, of course, moved towards its goal in its own way. In 1982-1983 MiG-29K and Su-27K advance projects were presented and protected, while the MiG was intended for air defense in the near zone and had secondary tasks: destroying enemy ships with a displacement of up to 5 000 and assault landing forces. Su-27K was supposed to be a fighter with a long range, providing air defense connections in the far zone. Yak-141 was to be the world's first supersonic multipurpose VTOL.
Sukhova OKB decided to create the Su-27K as a deck modification of the Su-27, that is, if possible, keep the equipment of the “original” aircraft on it. This, of course, did not mean that the Su-27K would not undergo any changes at all compared to its prototype, but the bottom line was that the overwhelming majority of the changes concerned the adaptation of the aircraft to the specifics of marine carrier-based aircraft. level Su-27. The Su-27K sketch project was presented in September 1984, but this position was not met with understanding by the commission of the customer.
The fact is that in 1982 r the development of an improved model of the Su-27, the Su-27M fighter, was launched. In the context of this, the commission members did not understand why it was necessary to continue the development of a promising deck-based aircraft based on the original Su-27, because this would lead to the emergence of an aircraft with lower performance characteristics. Accordingly, as a result of the review of the Su-27K conceptual design, representatives of the customer’s commission demanded an increase in the aircraft’s combat potential. But the leadership of the Sukhoi Design Bureau was able to explain and defend its position.
The fact is that the "sukhovtsy" offered to work on the deck fighter split into two stages. At first, it was necessary to “accustom” the aircraft to the deck, keeping its capabilities at the level of the Su-27: this solution would allow, according to the designers, to ensure the delivery of the first production Su-27K by the end of the 80-s. At the same time, the development of the deck aircraft based on the Su-27M is a long business, the terms of which could easily be "shifted to the right" by the difficulties of finishing the latest equipment, and in this case the Su-27K serial deliveries could be significantly delayed. But after all the new weapons are “run-in” on the Su-27, nothing can prevent them from being introduced on the modification of the deck Su-27K - this can be done quite quickly. With such a reasoning, the commission agreed and a compromise solution was reached - Su-27K are created on the basis of Su-27, but at the same time they get the ability to use uncontrollable weapon - free-fall bombs and Nurs.
Accordingly, the main changes of the Su-27K in comparison with the prototype consisted in the implementation of "carrier-specific" specifics:
1. The AL-31FX3 engines were developed and installed on the aircraft - they differed from the Su-27 production engines with an increased 12 800 kgf engine (for the AL-31F - 12 500 kgf), which new engines developed in the short-term, special mode, during takeoff of the aircraft or at extraordinary go-around;
2. Improved wing bearing properties due to an increase in its area (by about 10%) and its mechanization - the new remote control system was completely electrified. At Su-27, it was partially built on rigid wiring and power boosters;
3. The landing gear has been improved and strengthened for landing on the deck; a landing hook is provided with which the hook is made for the aero-finisher;
4. To reduce the size of the aircraft during storage in the hangar or on the flight deck, a folding wing was developed, as well as folding tail, because otherwise it would have stood for the dimensions of the folded wings;
5. A special anti-corrosion coating was introduced to operate the aircraft in a salty sea climate;
6. Special aerobatic equipment was installed to drive and land the aircraft on the deck, as well as the observation and sight system was upgraded to interact with the ship’s radio electronic systems;
Of course, the list of innovations did not end there, and the aircraft received, perhaps, not essential for naval aviation aircraft, but very useful innovations, such as the air refueling system and the landing strip (front horizontal tail). It must be said that GIP was planned to be used even on the Su-27, but it did not work out, but on the Su-27K everything was possible. As a result of the use of PGO (and the new remote control system), the Su-27K greatly won in aerodynamic quality, i.e. - in maneuverability, and in addition (and this turned out to be a pleasant surprise) received an increase in the maximum lift force of the aircraft.
At the same time, airborne radar equipment, aiming complex, optical-location station, etc. remained the same as on the Su-27, only underwent a small adaptation to work on the sea. Perhaps the only significant innovation was the increase in suspension points from 10 to 12, which made it possible to increase the ammunition load, but that, in general, was all.
The first flight of the Su-27K made 17 August 1987 g.
Originally MMP them. A.I. Mikoyan went the same way as the Sukhoy Design Bureau and assumed to create a carrier-based aircraft based on the serial MiG-29. But, just like the Sukhoi Design Bureau, in 1982, the Mikoyan citizens began work on designing an improved version of the MiG-29 - the MiG-29М. It must be said that the differences between the MiG-29M and the initial MiG-29 were so great that it was fit to talk about the creation of a new aircraft. MiG-29M should have received:
1. Modified glider. At the same time in the glider MiG-29М it was supposed to use a new aluminum-lithium alloy and composite materials, and also to abandon riveted joints in favor of welded ones. All this not only reduced the mass of the structure, but also made it possible to use the internal volume to place the fuel completely (previously it could not be done, because it was impossible to seal all the riveted seams). The supply of fuel for the new aircraft was to increase by 1500 l .;
2. Analog-digital electrical remote control system, which allows to implement the concept of longitudinal static instability of the aircraft - contrary to popular belief, the original serial MiG-29 (and Su-27) did not have this quality;
3. The new RD-33K engine equipped with a digital electronic-hydromechanical automatic control system. The RD-33, installed on the MiG-29, used a hydroelectronic control system with an analogue limiter controller;
4. The new C-29M weapons control system (SUV-29М), the basis of which should have been composed of a new pulse-Doppler radar H010 and a new optical radar station OLS-M;
5. The significantly increased range of used ammunition, with the maximum combat load increased from 2 000 kg in MiG-29 (9-12) to 4 500 kg, the number of suspension points increased from 6 to 9.
And these are only the main differences between the MiG-29М and the main version. On the list of everything else, including the new station warning of radiation, a more modern HUD, CRT monitors in the cockpit, etc., etc. this article simply does not have enough space.
Without a doubt, the MiG-29M was a machine whose combat potential was almost multiple of that of the first series of the MiG-29. If Su-27, Su-27K, MiG-29 were 4-generation machines, then MiG-29М actually became the “4 +” generation. But the development of such a machine confronted the Mikoyan designers, at times, a more difficult task than the one that their colleagues and rivals from the Sukhoi Design Bureau were solving. While the latter simply adapted Su-27, which is in a very high degree of readiness (started operating in 1985), to the deck, then MMP them. A.I. Mikoyan, in essence, was to create a new aircraft, a bit like the silhouette of an old one, and at the same time make on its basis the marine version of this aircraft.
The first flight of the MiG-29K (tail number 311) took place on 23 June 1988.
The creation of the Yak-141, alas, has become one of the saddest stories of national military aviation. As we said above, VTOL was seriously engaged in our country in 1967, and since then D.F. Ustinov did not leave hope for the emergence of a competitive vertical fighter takeoff and landing. But years went by, and the efforts of the Yakovlev Design Bureau did not lead to success: at the same time, views on the use of VTOL aircraft changed, therefore the TTT (tactical and technical requirements) on the aircraft was periodically adjusted. A number of supporters of the Yakovlev Design Bureau called such changes the reason for the deadlines in the creation of the Yak-141, but here, obviously, the cart was put in front of the horse: in no case at the time of the change of the TTT of the Yakovlev Design Bureau could not demonstrate the prototype, at least somewhat corresponding to the previous TTT. So it was in the period we are describing - in 1977, the Government once again entrusts Yakovlevs to create a VTOL supersonic fighter, but until 1980, it was hardly possible to determine the type of its propulsion system. The choice was between a single, with one lift-marching engine modeled on the "Harrier" or a combination, like the Yak-38. In 1979, we developed a conceptual design with a single power unit, submitted it to the commission and ... based on the results of the review, we decided to create a conceptual design with a combined power unit. Therefore, yes, in 1980, the TTT was once again corrected, but you need to understand that the work on the aircraft at that time was at a stage that completely excluded the delivery of the car according to the initial TTT for state tests in 1982.
In accordance with the new TTT (adjustments were made to it in subsequent years), the plane was supposed to be a multi-purpose, that is, a “vertical-lift” similarity to the MiG-29, while it was necessary to ensure a shortened takeoff by takeoff of the 120-130 m, take-off from the springboard and landing short mileage, as well as the use of outboard fuel tanks. In 1984, two more important events for the Yak-41 occurred. DF died Ustinov, Minister of Defense, a powerful supporter of aviation VTOL, and retired A.S. Yakovlev - GA was appointed lead designer for the Yak-141. Matveyev.
The first prototype of the aircraft appeared in 1985 g, and in the next, 1986, its bench tests begin. At the same time, another Government Decree issued with instructions to develop a VTOLS supersonic fighter, now it should be submitted to state tests for 1988. But even these deadlines (traditionally) were frustrated. 21 has already passed a year since the VTOLP fighter aircraft was mentioned in a government decree for the first time, but it was not so presented at the GSI. It was at this time that the Yak-141 received its designation (before that it was called Yak-41).
The works, however, still moved forward - 9 in March 1987 of the Yak-141 made the first flight (with horizontal takeoff and landing), in 1990 g - for the first time carried out vertical takeoff and landing.
By the time when the technical condition of the ship allowed to proceed with the flight from its deck, strictly speaking, no aircraft has officially started flight testing. However, at the initiative of MP Simonov, in 1988, it was decided to try the Su-27K on the deck of the ship. With a similar proposal came out and OKB. A.M. Mikoyan, and a similar resolution was obtained for the MiG-29K. There is no doubt that if the Yakovlev Design Bureau could do the same, they would have done so, but the problem was that as of 1988-1989. the Yakovlevists simply did not have a plane that could be put on deck - the Yak-141 was not corny for this. However, I must say that at least in 1988 g the choice in favor of Su, MiG or Yak has not yet been made, while the “favorite” at that time, perhaps, should have been considered MiG-29K - the MAP board was inclined towards it, due to its smaller size and, consequently, the ability to staff the TAKR air group with a large number of machines.
TAKR "Tbilisi" for the first time departed from the 21 October 1989 berth, and did it without the mandatory prior demagnetization and docking, as well as without a number of systems in which in another case no one would allow the ship to move away from the wall. But the tests of the aircraft were extremely important and the high authorities gave their “go-ahead” to the exit.
And now, on 13.46 1 in November 1989, for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy, a horizontal take-off and landing aircraft Su-27K (onboard No.39), piloted by test pilot V.G., landed on the ship's deck. Pugachev.
That same landing
Behind him, the 15.11 successfully landed the MiG-29 (airborne No. 311) under the control of TS. Aubakirova. And a little later, in 16.48, T.O. Aubakirov carried out the first ever springboard take-off from the TAKR deck - MiG-29K did not disappoint, it all worked properly.
The flight test flight cycle of the MiG-29K and Su-27K was carried out for 20 days - during this time the aircraft made 227 flights and made 35 landings (of course, some flights were conducted from land aerodromes). At the same time, the Su-27K landed on the TKR deck 20 times, the MiG-29K - 13, and the Su-25UTG - 2 times. And then the TAKR returned to the factory.
Flying from the deck resumed with the start of state tests of the ship, on which 1 August 1990 r was launched by the TKR Tbilisi and which continued until October 4, when the huge ship returned to the plant to eliminate the comments and revise the mechanisms. At the same time, the TAKR received the next, fourth name “Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov” (before this, the ship was consistently called Riga, Leonid Brezhnev, and Tbilisi). During the state tests, 454 flight was performed by various aircraft, including Su-27K, MiG-29K, Su-25UTG, Ka-27, Ka-29 and Ka-31 helicopters. During this period, the first night take-off and landing on TAKR (MiG-29 under the control of AN Kvochura) were performed.
In 1991 g, the flights were resumed: at that time the TAKR was still in the Black Sea, it went north only on December 1 1991. And finally, on September 26, 1991 r landed the Yak-141 on the ship.
So on the deck of the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov were three fighters of various classes - a heavy fighter, a multipurpose light fighter and a VTOL fighter. Surprisingly, but a fact: at that time each of them could claim to be the best in the world - in its class, of course, but not only among the sea, but also among the "land" Air Force planes. Moreover, each of them was created in a special way - the Sukhoi Design Bureau adapted the serial Su-27 to the deck with minimal design additions by creating an excellent generation 4 aircraft, the Mikoyan Design Bureau took a “step into the future” based on the existing model by building not even 4-e, but “4 +” generation, and the Yakovlev Design Bureau in general created “a wonderful miracle, a marvel”, nothing like that in the world existed.
It must be said that the creation of a decked-flight aircraft is a very complicated matter, and it is not surprising that serious accidents have fallen to the share of aircraft of all three design bureaus. So, 11 July 1991, the remote control system failed on the serial Su-27K (T-10K-8), as a result of which the plane crashed, fortunately T. Apakidze, who piloted it, managed to eject and went without casualties. In September (inaccurately) the omission of the MiG-29K pilot led to a serious aircraft crash — by landing the aircraft on the deck, with the engines running, the pilot tried to remove the landing gear. And although he immediately corrected his mistake, the hydraulic cylinders and chassis exhaust pipes were disabled - the plane had to be “handed over for repair”. And 5 of the same October, 1991 G crashed the Yak-141 - due to an error in piloting the aircraft boarded “roughly”, with high vertical speed. From this landing gear struck the fuel tank and started a fire, which, however, was extinguished quickly and without consequences for the ship.
As you know, in the end, it was decided to adopt the Su-27K, which had been renamed Su-33 by that time. In various publications, the reasons for this decision are highlighted in different ways - someone claims that Su-33 won "in fair combat" because of the best performance characteristics, someone, on the contrary, believes that the excellent MiG-29K and / or Yak-141 turned out to be victims of the undercover intrigues of the Sukhoi Design Bureau. Often you have to read that the Yak-141 accident became a pretext for winding down the VTOL aircraft program as a whole, sometimes the same is said about the MiG-29K.
However, most likely, the reasons of those who made the final decision were much more prosaic. In 1991, the greatest tragedy of our time took place - the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Despite the fact that the Russian Federation remained the largest and strongest among the “fragments” of the USSR, its economy was in a very pitiable state. In other words, at that time not the most effective from a military point of view, but the cheapest solutions were required, and here the Su-33 was out of competition.
Most likely, the Su-33, being a heavy fighter, cost more than the MiG-29K, but the fact is that the ultramodern at that time MiG-29М, on the basis of which the MiG-29K was made, almost entirely consisted of new equipment that should still be brought to condition, and then organize its serial release. At the same time, the Su-33 equipment was almost a copy of the serial units mastered by industry and their production could not cause any difficulties. As of 1991, the plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur has already begun the serial construction of the Su-33, at the same time, the MiG-29K existed only in two copies, and the third was only ready for 60%. At the same time, the overwhelming part of the tests was conducted by the firstborn of this type, the MiG-29K with the tail number 311, on which a significant part of the aircraft’s standard equipment and weapons was not installed. Only the second copy of the MiG-29K, onboard №312, received a complete set, but it was just being tested. If the board №311 made 313 flights before the accident (and seven - after), then the board №312 - only 35.
The refusal of the MiG-29M / MiG-29K program, without any doubt, caused enormous damage to the national navy - the Air Force and Navy lost an excellent "light" fighter. But, in fairness, it should be said that in the conditions of tough financial restrictions of the Russian Federation, it was more correct to rely on heavy fighters, and they were engaged in the Sukhoi Design Bureau. As a matter of fact, our country did not have the funds for them either - although in parallel with the Su-33, the Air Force received the Su-30, but in extremely limited quantities. That is, in fact, the country did not even have money to ensure the normal functioning of one design bureau and the purchase of its products - there was no sense in “smearing” these completely inadequate funds on the MiG-29М / MiG-29К.
Against this background, all the arguments about the Yak-141 simply lose their meaning. This aircraft was in an even earlier stage of creation than the MiG-29M / MiG-29K. And although in his class he was definitely ahead of the rest of the planet (mostly due to the fact that almost no other VTOL aircraft was on the planet except us), but of course he could not become a full-fledged replacement of the heavy and light fighter aviation of the country. At the same time, it could be further developed only by “letting the world through” both the Sukhov Design Bureau and the Mikoyan Design Bureau.
It is impossible to say that accidents caused the termination of work on the MiG-29K and Yak-141 - if the leadership of Sukhoi tried to do this, they would immediately be pointed out to the just-lost Su-33, here all three design bureaus were approximately in equal position. As for the cover-up struggle, it was undoubtedly present, but how could it be otherwise? After all, the three listed design offices competed with each other. And there is no doubt that the Yakovlev Design Bureau and MiG were to some extent weakened by 1991 - Yakovlev himself had retired by that time, and his followers simply did not have projects on which they could put together a name. At the same time, at the very beginning of the deck tests, the chief designer of the MiG-29K MR. Waldenberg came down with a heart attack, and the health of General Designer R.A. Belyakov also did not allow him to arrive in the Crimea, but the high representatives of the Sukhova design bureau were there, and this, of course, could not but play its role. Nevertheless, according to the author of this article, the fate of the Su-33, MiG-29K and Yak-141 was determined not by a thorough analysis of their performance characteristics or the intrigues of the designers, but by the forced savings on the country's armed forces.
But what would happen if the Russian Federation was not so limited in financial resources? Which fighter best responded to the tasks assigned to the Soviet TAKR air groups?
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