A Behind The Scenes Look At The Sukhoi Su-37, Its Pilot and Its Makers

Yevgeny Frolov, Chief Sukhoi Test Pilot.

Chief Designer, Sukhoi

Farnborough, September 6 -- Sukhoi Design Bureau's Su-37 received a lot of attention at this year's Farnborough. Not only did pilot Yevgeny Frolov put on an incredible flying demonstration, the aircraft itself had crowds around it almost every minute it sat in the static display. Two of the main reasons for its popularity are the aircraft's twin thrust-vectored jet engines.

Capable of pitch adjustments of thrust up to an estimated 20 degrees on either side of center, and tied into the fly-by-wire system, the two AL-37FU turbofan engines can quickly adjust the fighter's thrust for optimum angle of attack.

This is the basis for the plane's ability to perform the Cobra maneuver. In the Cobra, the aircraft makes a very quick pitch-up from horizontal to 30 degrees past vertical. The airspeed of the aircraft slows dramatically as the plane continues its horizontal travel. The pilot then uses thrust vectoring to help pitch the aircraft's nose down and resume normal flight angles.

Cornered after the pilot's briefing yesterday, Sukhoi Chief Test Pilot Yevgeny Frolov said the Cobra maneuver was really quite easy to perform. "You just push a button and pull back on the stick. The fly-by-wire is very responsive."

The most dramatic maneuver to watch is called the "Kulbit," Russian for "circle." Like the Cobra, 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.

While Moscow's Sukhoi Design Bureau is best known for its military aircraft, it is also developing a supersonic business jet, designated the S-21. The S-21 will carry 6-10 passengers in relative comfort at a cruising speed of Mach 2. The plane will use an integrated navigation system developed by Honeywell.

Sukhoi is represented by the Russian state agency, Rosvoorouzhenie, which is chartered to sell Russian armament and military equipment. Rosvoorouzhenie has 31 regional offices in countries around the world including Iraq, Iran, Libya and Cuba.

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