Present and plans
At the moment, carrier-based aviation of the Russian Navy cannot be called numerous. Only a few dozen Su-33 and MiG-29K fighters are available to the pilots. All these machines are designed to take off from the deck, equipped with a springboard. Landing is carried out with the help of an aerofinisher. Such a grouping is sufficient to complete the only available aircraft carrier cruiser, but the construction of new aircraft carriers will require to order a certain number of additional aircraft.
Currently, the Russian military department is exploring the prospects for the development of carrier-based fighters, and is already forming some preliminary proposals. So, a curious option for the further development of naval aviation was proposed last year. During the International Aerospace Salon MAKS-2017, the Deputy Minister of Defense of Russia, Yury Borisov, touched on the topic of the distant future of fleet aviation. As it turned out, the Ministry of Defense has very interesting plans.
According to Yu. Borisov, the existing Su-33 and MiG-29K aircraft will gradually become obsolete, as a result, after about 10 years, the development of new aircraft will be required. At the same time, the military department already has plans for this. They provide for the development and production of new aircraft with a shortened or vertical take-off and landing. It is assumed that the new vertical take-off aircraft will be a kind of continuation of the line of such technology, which was developed in the past by the AS OKB. Yakovlev.
The Deputy Minister of Defense indicated that promising aircraft would serve on a new aircraft carrier, whose construction could begin in the mid-twenties. Other details of a hypothetical project from the future have not yet been announced. Apparently, the development of the new aircraft has not yet begun, and the specialists of the military department and the aviation industry themselves do not yet know what the new Russian carrier-based aircraft could be.
Successes of the past
Last year's statements by the representative of the Ministry of Defense did not reveal any details, but they give an interesting hint at possible further developments. According to Yu. Borisov, the new deck fighter will be a continuation of the family of Yakovlev design bureau cars. If such a proposal is chosen for implementation, the aircraft from the future may be similar to some well-known designs. This allows you to make predictions and try to predict what the new technology will be like.
Recall Yakovlev Design Bureau began to study the subject of vertical takeoff in the late fifties. By the middle of the next decade, a pilot project Yak-36 was created. Prototypes of this type showed the main features of the technology of the new class and allowed to begin to develop high-grade combat vehicles. On the basis of developments on the Yak-36 was created deck attack aircraft Yak-38. He had built-in weapons, and could carry missiles and bombs. In the late seventies, the Yak-38 was adopted and became part of the aviation groups of a number of ships of the USSR Navy. There have also been developed several projects to upgrade such a machine.
Without waiting for the completion of the Yak-38 tests, the design bureau began the development of a new aircraft with similar take-off and landing characteristics, but with enhanced combat capabilities. The new Yak-41 (later the project was renamed the Yak-141) was to become a multipurpose fighter capable of gaining air superiority, as well as striking ground or surface targets. Within the project, the designers of several organizations had to solve a large number of fairly complex tasks, which led to a certain delay in the work. Preparation for testing of experimental equipment started only a decade after the start of design.
The first flight of one of the experienced Yak-41 took place in March 1987. Over the next few years, prototypes carried out certain flight programs, which made it possible to test the operation of all onboard systems. At the very end of 1989, the first flight with hovering took place, and in June of 1990, the first vertical takeoff and vertical landing took place. After a new flight from a land aerodrome, checks on the deck were started. At the end of September 1991, the first landing of the Yak-141 on an aircraft carrier took place. A few days later and completed takeoff.
In early October, during another test vertical landing, one of the experienced aircraft exceeded the vertical speed, which led to the destruction of the structure and fire. This incident was fatal to the project. The possibility of building a new prototype to replace the lost was absent, and soon it was decided to close the project. Officially, the work stopped in 1992. The remaining Yak-141 still showed at various exhibitions, but these machines no longer had a future.
One of the variants of the appearance of the Yak-201
Economic problems and specific views on military-political issues led to the fact that Russia in the early nineties, refused to create new aircraft vertical / shortened take-off and landing. However, the Yakovlev Design Bureau did not stop the elaboration of promising ideas and continued to work on its own initiative. In the mid-nineties, was proposed a new project multi-purpose carrier-based fighter Yak-201.
According to known data, the Yak-201 project provided for the construction of a glider made using stealth technology, which made it possible to drastically reduce the aircraft’s visibility in flight. It was planned to equip the car with one engine designed for vertical take-off / landing and horizontal flight. It was suggested to take off due to the change of thrust with the help of a rotating nozzle. Since the engine was placed in the tail of the car, an auxiliary lift system had to supplement it. Among other things, the option of mounting an additional rotor in the nose of the fuselage, driven by an extended engine shaft, was being worked out.
The specific engine for the Yak-201 was never chosen, due to which most of the flight data was not precisely calculated. The plane was supposed to get an automatic gun and internal cargo compartments for missiles or bombs. Dumped weapon it was proposed to transport on four points of the suspension. Perhaps the fighter could get pylons external placement.
For obvious reasons, the Yak-201 project has not gone beyond the preliminary design stage. The potential customer showed no interest in such equipment, and besides, he did not have the financial opportunity to order its development and construction. As a result, another promising offer went to the archive.
According to the statements of Yu. Borisov, the existing fleet of deck aircraft will become obsolete in the distant future, and they will need to be replaced. Currently, the possibility of creating vertical / short take-off and landing aircraft is being considered, which may provide certain advantages. At the same time, it is not yet specified what they will be and what opportunities they will receive. However, it is indicated that the military department intends to continue the development of the old ideas of the OKB AS. Yakovlev. Thus, you can try to imagine what the future fighter will look like.
Of all the projects of vertical take-off planes under the “Yak” brand, the most recent one, proposed in the mid-nineties and not reaching full-fledged design work, may be of the greatest interest. Working through the appearance of the car of the future, the Yakovlev Design Bureau proposed a very interesting aircraft, which even now looks quite modern. Some of the components of this project may require significant processing in accordance with current trends, but a number of common features can be preserved.
It should be noted that a number of the main features of the Yak-201 project reminds us of the American fighter Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II, which has the possibility of a shortened take-off and landing. The Russian and American projects included reducing visibility for enemy detection equipment, used a combination of a sustainer engine with a swiveling nozzle and a lifting rotor, and also offered internal placement of all weapons. As the current state of affairs with American aircraft shows, such a variant of the technical appearance of the equipment justifies itself and is suitable for solving assigned tasks. It should be noted that obtaining the desired results in the framework of the American project was associated with many technical difficulties, delaying work and increasing the cost of the program.
Since the Yak-201 was developed in the nineties, and the design of a new similar aircraft starts no earlier than the beginning of the twenties, direct borrowing of one or another design solution is virtually ruled out. One of the main differences of the new project should be the broadest use of modern materials and technologies created after the abandonment of the draft design of the Yak-201. The same approach should be applied when creating the onboard complex of radio-electronic equipment.
Obviously, the glider of a prospective aircraft should be built with a view to reducing visibility. It is possible that its optimal configuration will be similar to the fifth-generation Su-57 fighter glider. However, in any case there will be the most serious differences. According to known data, even within the framework of the Yak-201 project, several versions of the aerodynamic appearance of an inconspicuous car were worked out. In particular, the front and rear placement of the horizontal tail was studied.
Of all the known variants of power plants that provide vertical or shortened take-off, the one proposed in the Yak-201 project and implemented on the F-35B aircraft looks most beneficial. The main propulsion engine, showing sufficient performance, should have a swiveling nozzle. In this case, its shaft should be associated with the front rotor, which is responsible for creating thrust under the nose of the airframe. Also, the machine needs gas-jet controls on the three axes in the vertical mode and during the transition to horizontal flight.
The current progress in the field of electronic systems allows us to look to the future with optimism. A radar with a phased antenna array, including an active, optical-location detection aids and a modern aim-navigation system can appear on board a promising aircraft. In accordance with current requirements, avionics should be fully compatible with existing and advanced military communications and control.
The composition of weapons will be determined in accordance with the wishes of the military and the proposed combat missions. Domestic vertical take-off and landing aircraft were equipped with a built-in 30-mm automatic cannon and could carry a variety of aviation weapons. Thus, the Yak-141 project provided for the use of various air-to-air missiles, including medium-range products. A wide range of guided and unguided rockets and bombs was proposed to destroy ground or surface targets. The same opportunities can go to a promising aircraft. In this case, the most important feature of it will be the presence of internal cargo receptacles for weapons, allowing to reduce visibility in flight.
As follows from the well-known data, the Russian Ministry of Defense is only considering the possibility of resuming the development and construction of vertical take-off aircraft. Such proposals will be able to turn into real projects only in a few years, and then it will take some time to carry out all the necessary work. As a result, ready-made deck aircraft will appear no earlier than the second half of the twenties. By this time, it is expected to begin construction of a new aircraft carrier, which will serve as a new aviation technology.
The development of a new aircraft for the Russian Navy, apparently, has not yet begun, and this circumstance is an excellent reason for making forecasts and statements of various versions. In the meantime, military and aviation industry experts can assess the prospects of the existing proposal and decide what to do next. If the fleet really needs a plane with unusual take-off and landing characteristics, then its development will begin in the near future.
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