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Russian fighters for the USAF/USN?

The ultimate irony


From http://www.flightjournal.com/articles/su27/su27.asp (From late 1999 or early 2000)

by Robert W. Kress with Rear Adm. Paul Gillcrist, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
ditors! "ote# $" this wo"der%ul &iece o% aero"autical a"d &olitical iro"y, it seems that our "ew%ou"d but u"easy %rie"ds, the Russia"s, may be our best source o% "ew %i'hter aircra%t. (ob Kress, e)*Grumma" +P o% adva"ced &ro'rams a"d chie% e"'i"eer o" the ,*-., a"d Adm. Paul Gillcrist, retired USN %i'hter &ilot, ma/e a co"vi"ci"' ar'ume"t that rather tha" s&e"d ridiculous sums %or "ew %i'hters that will &robably show u& too late to do us a"y 'ood, we should buy Su/hoi Su*01 air%rames a"d 2America"i3e2 them with our e"'i"es a"d %li'ht*co"trol systems. 4o"troversial5 Absolutely6 7o'ical5 8a/e your ow" decisio".
RIGHT: The Su-27 is bigger than the F-14 and F-15, and its capabilities and ec n !ics are s utstanding that a nu!ber " nati ns are in the pr cess " adapting it t set it up as the pri!ar# $%S% " e in "uture c n"licts &ph t b# 'atsuhi( T (unaga)%

Prelude
Soon after Desert Storm, by some inexplicable miscalculation, the U.S. Navy voluntarily opted out of the important sea-based, deep-interdiction mission it had brilliantly carried out during and since WW II. It decided on the early termination of the -! program and to scrap the ne" -! #composite "ing# program for "hich $oeing had already been paid hundreds of millions of dollars. %his "ould have carried -!&s "ell into the next century. In the stri'e configuration for "hich it originally had been designed, the &-()D "as to have been the bridging mechanism bet"een the -! and the *oint Stri'e &ighter +*S&,. It is hoped +repeat, hoped, the *S& "ill arrive easily in the next millennium. With the -! out of the picture, and until the *S& arrives, the &-()D is the only game in to"n that has the same punch. %he problem "ith using the &-()D as the bridge bet"een the t"o aircraft is that it is on the edge of extinction. In another inexplicable move, beginning about (--., the U.S. Navy, per orders of then Secretary of Defense /ichard 0heney, planned to phase out of the &-() program and, apparently to ensure there "ould be no second thoughts, ordered the destruction of all &-() tooling. Incredible1
RIGHT: Gru!!an F-14*s, as based n the $SS + nstellati n, are n the edge " e,tincti n and are ur last -a.al aircra"t capable " carr#ing hea.# b !b l ads " r l ng distances &ph t b# Rand# / ll#)%

%he &-(2 34& program that is supposed to ta'e over the sea-based, deep-interdiction, precision-stri'e mission does not have a long-range, high-payload, precision-stri'e capability, so the &-()Ds are the current "or'horse delivery men of the 5,...-pound, 67$4radar-guided bombs in the many trouble spots around the "orld, as re8uired. %he US & tries to supplement U.S. Navy stri'es but is handicapped by diplomatic and political constraints.
01FT: The Gru!!an 2-31 Intruder, n 4 ta(en ut " the "leet, 4as neither "ast, n r gla! r us, but it 4as rugged, reliable and carried an i!!ense b !b l ad n l ng, l 4 !issi ns% It has n direct replace!ent &ph t s b# Rand# / ll#)%

Unfortunately, the tragedy does not stop there. %he re8uirement for the Nimit9 and follo"-on class carriers hinges, most experts say, on its ability to carry out sea-based, deep-interdiction missions. Without the &-()s, 0ongress "ill not support the construction of more :;.< billion Nimit9-class carriers if deep-stri'e aircraft are not ready on the first day of the conflict.

01FT: acc rding t the auth rs, the F52-16 is si!pl# t s!all t carr# either the "uel r rdnance re7uired b# deep interdicti n !issi ns%

Somebody in the White =ouse "ill have to ans"er the >resident?s 8uestion, #Where are the carriers@# "ith the reply, #What carriers@# We decided not to build anyA remember@

9he U.S. Navy


%he U.S. Navy retired the venerable long-range, heavy-attac' -! aircraft, not because they lac'ed their original capability and survivability, but because they "ere disintegrating due to old age. %hey "ent into service in (-!5B;C years ago1 %he &-()D has no" ta'en over for the -! in the fighter4bomber role as it "as originally designed to do. Dn top of that, "hen the %omcat has loosed its bombs, it is a formidable dogfighter1 With the (<. or so &-()s left, ho"ever, the U.S. Navy can only maintain this fighter4bomber force until about 5.(.Bif it is luc'y1 nd even doing that "ill re8uire 8uic' funding of restoration efforts to a lot of aircraft. 0heney?s order of no more &-() production "as a "asteful move that cannot be explained rationally, nor "as there ever any reason offered. %he effect of the order, ho"ever, "as to leave a clear path for further ac8uisition of the &-(2 and its desperately needed mission-performance upgrade, the &-(23. %he &-(2s are good airplanes, but neither version comes close to the payload4range capability of the &-() or the -!.
01FT: Scale ! dels sh 4 the relati.e si8es " the di""erent "ighters% Fr ! the le"t: 9iG-2:; F-14*; Su-27; F-15; F52-16% - te the tin# relati.e si8e " the F52-16 &ph t b# <alter Sidas)%

%he ca'e "as iced by the ac8uisition of 7rumman by Northrop in (--;Bthe cat devoured by the mouse, so to spea'. Seventy percent of the aircraft on carrier dec's at the time "ere 7rumman-built. Dn the other hand, Northrop had never built a tactically significant aircraft in its entire !.-year history.

9he USA,
%he US & problem is different. %he dvanced %actical &ighter + %&, program resulted in the development of the excellent 6oc'heed &-55 stealth fighter and the very po"erful and "ell-behaved >ratt E Whitney &-((fighter engine. %he US & has many upgraded &-(< fighter4bomber aircraft in inventory and could build and upgrade even more. So, ac8uisition of the &-55 is not as critical an issue, time"ise. %he problem lies in the enormous ac8uisition cost of the &-55 +see erospace merica, November ?-2,. %he cost associated "ith introducing it to service "ould probably result in the forced retirement of many "or'horse &-(<s. &urther, the effects of stealth aircraft design measures on fighter aircraft performance, cost and combat operability have been seriously 8uestioned. %he &-(<s must be replaced in the next (. to 5. years, but "ith "hich aircraft@

9he 9hreat
Dn the other side of the fence, our combined U.S. Navy4US & fighter4bomber force "ill face approximately ).) /ussian Su-5C &lan'er aircraft by 5..5 +#*ane?s ll the World?s ircraft#,. 0hina has been licensed to build 5.. +no license to exportBso they say1,. %he Su-5C is already 'no"n as a premier highly maneuverable fighter. What is less 'no"n is that it is a brute of an aircraftBbigger than the &-() and &-(<. It has a huge internal fuel capacity and, li'e the &-(), can

carry a lot of very large bombs in attac' rolesBneatly hidden from radar detection bet"een the podded engine nacelles. In addition, its external shape results in a naturally lo" radar signature "ithout compromising its performance. %he vaunted Fi7-5- is a midget compared "ith the Su-5CBnot unli'e comparing the &-(2 "ith the &-(). No "onder the "orld mar'et opts for Su-5C payload4range versus the Fi7-5-. 3ven better for our purpose, the Su-5C has already been modified for carrier operations, and it "as planned for the first /ussian carrier, the dm. Gu9net9ov.
63&%H Dn the carrier version of the Su-5C, both the "ings and the hori9ontal tail fold. %he authors argue that the /ussian fighter4bomber can do the &-()?s Iob at a fraction of the cost of a ne", U.S.-built airplane +photo courtesy of >aul 7illcrist,.

$y 5..5, the U.S. "ill be outgunned by an ever-gro"ing number of countries o"ning the Su-5C. %he Su-5C has a deep-stri'e capability that?s on a par "ith the current <..-nautical-mile U.S. capability, "hich, by the "ay, is in the process of rapidly fading to ;.. n.m. as the &-()s go out of service and are replaced by &-(2s "ith half the bomb load. %he same goes for the &-(<, except that its stri'e bomb load is on a par "ith the &-(), and it isn?t disappearing as 8uic'ly. We need some more affordable, high-performance #big guys# soon1 So "hat can be done@

A" America" Su*015


$efore assuming that the concept of buying Su-5Cs for the US & and USN is a "hac'y idea, let?s first see "hether it has some merit. %he Su-5C is a 'no"n excellent fighter. It has been partially Jnavali9ed.K It is a big brute. In the event of a conflict, "e "ill be nose to nose "ith it "orld"ide. It exists and is in production, so "e could easily buy Su-5C aircraft models as gap-fillersA "e already have ac8uired t"o for evaluation. %o ma'e things even better, the airplane is inexpensive by any standards. recent unofficial 8uote from a /ussian source says that Su-5Cs can be bought for about :2 million apiece. >erhaps the carrier version "ould cost substantially more. 0ompared "ith &-(234& costs, the Su-5C may offer enormous procurement savings plus large mission- and combat-effectiveness benefits. viation Wee' recently announced plans by ustralia to replace its &4 -(2s and &-(((s "ith Fi7-5-s and Su-5Cs. Faybe this proposal is not such a cra9y idea after all1 In the long term, "e "ould "ant to upgrade Su-5C models in thrust and avionics to give us an edge over the "orld"ide Su-5C threat. %he >ratt E Whitney &-((- engine is significantly more po"erful than the /ussian Su-5C po"erplants and can be built "ith elegant pitch and ya" thrust vectoring. %he 7eneral 3lectric &-(5. &-5; engine could also be used. Without being specific, the U.S. avionics industry should be able to substantially upgrade Su-5C systems. 0ost "ill be the driver, but here, the Su-5C may be the solution for the U.S. Navy and US & as interim gap-filler aircraft. &or the long term, there are several optionsH L $uy bare airframes made to specifications for completion in the U.S. L Dbtain a license to build Su-5Cs in the U.S. "ithout export rights. L $uild some parts in the U.S. and buy maIor subassemblies from /ussia for assembly in the U.S. +really a variant of the second option,. s a side issue in the procurement of these aircraft, the U.S. "ould certainly be funding a large part of /ussia?s economic recovery, "hich "ould help to 'eep it stable and less of a threat. Dbtaining a really good deal on Su-5Cs should be realistic and beneficial to both countries. It "ould also further cement the collaboration bet"een /ussia and the U.S. in the face of Iointly perceived threats.

Actio" items6
Somebody +let?s see some hands, fol's, should carefully explore the procurement cost and fleet readiness implications of the proposals "e?ve presented. Since "e?re supposedly retired, this is something "e can no longer explore "ithout the help of a maIor agency. s long as "e?re as'ing 8uestions about the future fighter programs, "hat about the *S& program@ It is a Ioint U.S. Navy4US &4USF0 next-generation fighter program1 +=eard that one before@, $ut this time, a dimly perceived USF0 M%D6 fighter is the obIective1 =as anyone figured out that "hen an engine fails during hover, a t"in-engine M%D6 "ill do a rollover very 8uic'ly, thus preventing pilot eIection@ 3ven =arriers re8uire 8uic' pilot action to avoid insidious, slo", roll-control loss if the nose "as allo"ed to get too high in a cross"ind hover. Fany "ere lost. %hus, a M%D6 for the Farines must be a single-engine configuration, "hich means that it must be a single-engine aircraft. It

also means that the *S& "ill be another fighter in the ;.,...-pound class +using the &-((- engine, for example,.

,i"ale
Nou might "onder "hy "e are ta'ing these positions. We could tal' about politicians, the specifics of current international events and future perilsBof "hich "e 'no" nothing of substance. What "e do 'no" is ho" "e perceived the "orld unfolding as youngsters on December C, (-)(. Dur leaders sa" "hat "as coming but "ere too late to achieve a high state of readiness. So, "e listened to the radio and "atched JFovietone Ne"sK in horror, grief and fear until our industrial capability at last turned the tide. Dn the surface, the current "orld situation is not as threatening, but many "orld trouble spots may demand military attention via conventional forces and "eapons. 3vents that do arise "ill do so 8uic'ly, leaving little time to build up the military. Dur forces must be ready at all timesBsomething that seems to have lost its importance in the last decade. %actical airpo"er must be refreshed in strategy and form, unencumbered by politics and corporate interference. In other "ords, "e?ll al"ays need the ability to dash in, drop a lot of bombs and get out. If "e don?t do something about the impending vacuum of that capability very soon, "e may find ourselves unable to effectively smac' some dictator?s bac'side "hen he needs it.
01FT: 2n Su-27 pulls thr ugh the .ertical p rti n " the + bra !aneu.er t sh 4 its e,tre!e sl 4-speed !anu.erabilit# &ph t b# 'atsuhi( T (unaga)%

8ari"e test &ilot chec/s out a" old adversary


/amens'oye airfield loo'ed run- do"n, half abandoned. %he pavement had potholes. %he la"ns "ere untended, and the building loo'ed old. During our brief "al', my escort and I small-tal'ed as "ell as a recently introduced merican and /ussian could. %he stair"ell "as adorned "ith photographs of significant men in Soviet aviation history. /ussian, as opposed to Soviet, aviation "as still too young to have provided its first member to this shrine. We "al'ed through door"ays "hose doors "ere not s8uare "ith their Iambs and stepped over lips in the floor "here construction miscalculations had caused hall"ay segments to not 8uite align. We entered a room that once "as probably a bustling officeA no" it "as occupied by gray metal des's, stuc'-dra"er "ooden cabinets and pieces of office paraphernalia in faded shades of green and beige. %his "as our briefing room. No photos on these "alls, I noted, as %atyana, my escort and interpreter, left to in8uire about my safety pilot. I "ondered "hat history had occurred in this room. Who had sat at that des'@ Did that file cabinet contain classified information that could have been useful to enemy airmen@ Was this telephone here then@ Silly 8uestionsBthe 'ind you as' yourself "hen you stand at a historically significant site. I "as interested in these silly 8uestions because it "as possible that the events in this room a fe" years earlier could have set up an air battle, "hich, as a U.S. Farine pilot, may have included yours truly. $ut that "as another time, and this "as a friendly visit to the 7romov &light /esearch Institute a little more than 5. miles southeast of Fosco" in the to"n of Ohu'ovs'iy. nd it "as my extreme good fortune to be offered the opportunity to fly the Su-5CBN %D code-named #&lan'er.# %atyana returned "ith the pilot, natoly Gvochur, "ho "ould fly "ith me. I had as'ed about him during the previous days. 3veryone spo'e of him "ith reverence, and his stature at the flight-test center "as obvious to me long before "e met. =e "as impressively modest and cordialBa very li'able guy and a bona fide hero of /ussia. Despite his limited 3nglish and my nonexistent /ussian, our brief "ent "ell, and I felt good about flying "ith him. Dur airplane "as an Su-5CU$A the U$ designation signifies the t"o-seat trainer version "ith full combat capability. %his particular airplane had no "eapon system because it "as a test article and "as also used for airsho" demonstrations. It differed from the single-seat fighter by the obvious addition of a raised rear seat and the less obvious taller vertical fins. Its overall length "as the same as the single-seater?s. Its basic operating "eight "as ;2,!.. pounds, and a normal ta'eoff "eight "as in the <;,...-pound range.

Stra&&i"' i"
$eing careful not to step on the G-;! eIection seat, I contorted, stretched and muscled my flight-gear-clad body into the front coc'pit. %"o ground cre"men threaded straps through eyelets, plugged hoses into fittings and cords into Iac's, and I "ondered ho" I "ould be able to get out of there expeditiously if something "ent "rong in the choc's. Six months earlier, I had as'ed the same 8uestion "hen I fle" the Fi7-5- here at Ohu'ovs'iy. %he ans"er then "as to eIect because the unstrapping procedure "ould ta'e too long. %he only problem "ith that ans"er then "as "e "ere starting in a bun'er "ith a steel overheadA at least the Su-5C "as par'ed on the ramp. Dnce the strap-in tug of "ar "as complete, the seat height had to be set according to the ground-cre"man?s instruction. I li'ed the seat "here it "as, but the cre"man insisted it be lo"ered until my eyes "ere aligned "ith a reference mar' on the side of the seat. %his "as explained as a center-of-gravity consideration for the seat should eIection be necessary. Unfortunately, this position "as lo"er than I "as accustomed to in any tactical Iet, and it stole a good part of my external vie". Seated in this proper vertical location, I found that the canopy sills, instrument panel and eIection-seat head box all protruded into "hat "as other"ise a marvelous field of vie". %he seat and restraint system "ere comfortable. nd I 'ne" they "ere capable. During the >aris irsho" a couple of years earlier, the "orld had "atched as the same seat saved the demonstration pilot?s life, eIecting him from the out-of-control Fi7-5- at an extremely lo" altitude Bgood thing because I "as flying "ith the same pilot today.
01FT: The Su-27 c c(pit, engine and c ntr ls s#ste! c uld be c !pletel# =2!erican-i8ed= " r a "racti n " the c st " a ne4 aircra"t &ph t b# 'atsuhi( T (unaga)%

=aving also flo"n the Fi7-(<, -5( and -5-, I immediately noticed that the Su-5C?s coc'pit displayed a generational leap in human factors and an abidance "ith industry convention. 7one "as the single hand-bra'e lever on the control stic' for normal bra'ing in favor of individual toe bra'es. %he broad "hite stripe do"n the center of the instrument panelBpresumably to aid the pilot "ith neutral stic' placement in an out-of-control situationB"as also gone, perhaps because of the introduction of a #panic# button that allo"s the autopilot to recover the airplane to a straight-and-level condition at the pilot?s re8uest. %here "ere still a fe" aft-console s"itches that "ere difficult to reach, and at least one "as unguarded +the conse8uence of using it suggests that it should have been guarded,. %hen there?s the stic' heightBtoo high. %hough not as obIectionably high as in earlier Fi'oyan fighters, the Su-5C?s stic' grip is high enough to preclude resting your forearm on your thigh. /emember, adIusting the seat height to accommodate stic' height is not an option. Dn a good note, "e had the environmental control system. %his "onderful device "as controlled "ith a thermostat that the pilot could adIust in (-degree-0elsius incrementsA once set, the coc'pit remained comfortable for the entire flight. &or years, I heard fello" pilots complain that the most difficult part of flying Iets is getting them started, but once the choc's have been removed, they behave li'e any other airplane. Su-5C pilots can?t ma'e that claim. Its automation ma'es for an uncomplicated engine start and post-start process. 3ngine start up is a matter of placing the throttles in the idle position and tapping the start s"itches. %he rest is automatic. Dther pilot coc'pit chec's are comparably simple. /eady to taxi, I stepped on the toe bra'es for choc' removal, and the pedals "ent right to the hard stop. 0onvinced "e had lost hydraulic pressure, I held up the evolution until Gvochur explained that "hat I "as feeling "as normal. %he bra'es behaved normally during the ensuing taxi, but I didn?t care for the insufficient pedal-force increase as the bra'es "ere applied. >erhaps this "as the result of a first foray into toe bra'es for the /ussians, or the result of the inade8uate #feel# of a bra'e-by-"ire system, or maybe that feel is exactly "hat their pilots "anted. Seems to meBin theory at leastBthat this "ould increase the li'elihood of over-bra'ing, or relying on the anti-s'id system, although neither occurred during our flight. pproaching the hold-short line, I made one final scan of my coc'pit. =mmA some s"itches for"ard, some aft, some buttons illuminated, some dar'A all labeled in 0yrillic lettersA "ell, the ground cre" had set the s"itches, and I hadn?t touched anything I "asn?t told to. %here "ere no red lightsA that "as good ne"s. %his must sound cra9yH t"o pilots "ith limited verbal communication capabilities "ho, until Iust a couple of

hours ago had been strangers, occupied t"o different coc'pits in a sophisticated fighter +completely foreign to one pilot, and "ere about to fly "ith the intention of exploring a fe" of those #envelopes# pilots are al"ays tal'ing about. Sure sounds cra9y "hen I read it no". $ut "e "eren?t as isolated from each other as it might appear. We "ere both pilots. We both had tactical military bac'grounds. We both had invested years studying the other?s e8uipment and battle doctrine. We had briefed the flight in general terms "ith the ample clarifications of an interpreter, and "e "ere both test pilots. %his last fact didn?t ma'e us better or special, but it gave us a common language. Spea'ing, gesturing and demonstrating our intentions in terms of traditional flight-test techni8ues eliminated airborne surprises. Understanding ho" these universal stability, control and performance tests affected handling 8ualities, pilot4airplane interface and maneuverability allo"ed us to efficiently transition from one event to the next "ithout confusion. I "ould discover an unexpected characteristic and then perform a discriminating maneuver to observe its effect, and I felt sure that Gvochur 'ne" "hat that follo"-up maneuver "ould be sometimes before I did, and I "as doing the flying1

:ow it 'oes
%he run"ay at /amens'oye is almost (2,... feet long. %he Su-5C used about (. percent of it to get airborne in afterburner. %his distance could have been less, but I had momentarily misread the 'ph +'ilometers per hour, airspeed indicator. %he gear handle had to come up immediately, and the pitch attitude "as promptly adIusted to nose up to avoid accelerating through M63Bthe speed up to "hich it is safe to retract the gear. >o"er. /ussian fighters have al"ays had impressive performance "ith afterburner + $,, and the Su-5C elevated that impression to a ne" plateau. With each of its t"o afterburner 6yul'a 6-;(&s pumping out more than 5C,... pounds of thrust, this machine had some get up and go. ccessing that afterburner po"er re8uired the actuation of finger levers on the throttles. %hese levers also had to be used to de-select afterburner. Fost fighter pilots "on?t linger in burner, because the fuel flo" is in the tens of thousands of pounds per hour. %oo much $ time could mean not having enough gas to get home or to an airborne tan'er, and that?s as good as a 'ill for the opponent. lthough the single-seat Su-5C had an impressive 5(,...-pound-plus internal fuel capacity, there?s no doubt those 6-;(s gu99le the gas in $. %here "as another more pressing, although less tactical reason, for my stinginess "ith the burners. %he more time I spent being "o"ed "ith afterburner performance, the sooner I "ould run out of gas and have to land. %he airplane can accelerate, turn and climb better than most. 6est the opponent thin' bugging out of the fight is the best idea, the Su-5C?s unusually large internal fuel load and alleged Fach 5-plus capability should be enough to chase do"n most egressing opponents and finish the fight. s thrilling as all that go po"er "as, I limited my fuel-consuming performance chec's in favor of a more in-depth flying-8ualities evaluation. Nes, the airplane can sustain more 7 during a turn than a lot of pilots "ant to sustain +the flight-control system limits the 7 to P-,. Nes, the airplane has enough thrust to climb a"ay from an opponent "ho can?t and to accelerate bac' to maneuvering speed after intentionally or carelessly getting slo". Nes, the bottom line is the airplane is everything I thought it "ould be in the performance department.

A %ew com&lai"ts
irplane response to control-stic' displacement "as initially too slo", in my opinion. %he final result "as fine, but the #ramp-up# "as too gentle for my tactical preferences. &or example, slamming the stic' to the right stop ultimately produced an impressive roll rate, but that roll rate developed too slo"ly. full-stic' aileron roll produced an average roll rate of approximately (2. degrees per secondB"ell short of the 5C. degrees per second published in some IournalsBbut this average included the time spent at the slo"er roll rate during the roll acceleration or ramp-up. Without flight-test instrumentation, it?s difficult to determine "hen the ultimate roll rate "as achieved. =o"ever, "hen I recentered the stic' after a full-displacement aileron roll, the airplane continued to roll an additional -. degrees during its roll-rate ramp-do"n. %his characteristic forced me to #shape# my lateral control inputs. In other "ords, if I "anted to aggressively stop the roll rate at a "ings-level attitude follo"ing that aileron roll, I had to s"itch from full right stic' to almost full left stic' to put the bra'es on the roll rate. %his is extra "or' the fighter pilot shouldn?t have to contend "ith in the heat of battle. Interestingly, the &-(!?s flight control computers do this for the pilot in that airplaneA "hen the pilot stops applying lateral stic', the flaperons momentarily reverse direction, and the plane stops rolling "ithout the need for control shaping by the pilot.

%his ramp-up effect "as also present during pitching maneuvers, but to a less obIectionable extent. >itch-pointing the Su-5C "as easy to do for gross target ac8uisition, in "hich aiming #close# "as good enough. /efining that close-aiming solution to an exact-aiming solution "as more difficult because of the ramp-up4ramp-do"n characteristic that hampered predictability. Initially, it appeared the airplane "as not responding aggressively enough to my stic' pull4push "hen in fact, its pitch rate "as still developing. Unfortunately, fighter pilots don?t have time to "ait for the desired pitch rate or pitch-rate change to developB and "e?re tal'ing fractions of a second here. I found myself again control-shaping in an attempt to hurry the pitch change then shaping again to avoid the ramp-do"n once the desired pitch solution had been achieved. re these design fla"s@ >robably not. /emember, most "eapons of choice during the Su-5C?s development days "ere guided by radar, laser, or heat signature. Successful use of these #smart# "eapons didn?t re8uire exact aiming or fine trac'ing. If the Su-5C pilot had to resort to old-fashioned bullets or unguided #iron# bombs or roc'ets, those predictability problems and control-shaping re8uirements "ould play a significant detrimental role. Some sophisticated fly-by-"ire airplanes Iust leave me feeling as if I?m not connected to the airplane through the stic' and pedals. Intellectually, I 'no" I?m not, but I "ant to feel as if I am. %hat connection is the glue bet"een pilot and machineA it feels more predictable, and that allo"s me to venture right to the envelope edges "ith the confidence that the airplane "ill do "hat I as' in the "ay that I "ant. &or the most part, the Su-5C provided that feeling. %he caveat "as pilot aggressiveness. %he less aggressive the maneuver, the better connected I felt to the airplane.
01FT: + !paris n bet4een the Gru!!an F-14* T !cat and Su(h i Su-27> Flan(er &*ra4ings b# 0l #d S% / nes)%

During our flight, "e had some air space restrictions, so most of my JclinicalK stability and control testing occurred at an altitude of - 'ilometers or approximately 5<,... feet above mean sea level +FS6, "ith a cruise speed of Fach ..2.. %he usual battery of stability and control tests revealed a "ell-behaved airplane "ith the possible exception of the time-constant +ramp-up4ramp-do"n, issues already mentioned. %here "as no perceptible adverse ya", and the airplane tended to remain in "hatever angle of ban' I left it "ith no stic' or pedal re8uirement on my part. $ecause stic' or pedal displacement merely provided inputs to the flight-control computers, artificial control forces "ere fed to the coc'pit controls, as they are in all modern fighters. =o" much force is the correct amount depends to some degree on pilot preference, and the Su-5C?s control forces suited me Iust fine. %he idea is to have enough force to discourage over-controlling the airplane but not so much as to ma'e prolonged maneuvering tiresome. Stic'-force-per-7 is a common metric for ho" much pulling elicits ho" much 7, and I estimated the Su-5C to be bet"een ) and < pounds per 7 for most maneuvering tas's. &ull lateral stic' too' no more than 5. pounds, "hich is Iust about right for one-handed flying. 7etting to this point in the flight consumed about ;< precious minutes of my allotted one hour. 3ager to see it all, I as'ed Gvochur to sho" me some of the Su-5C?s stuff. =e too' control of the airplane li'e a maestro accepting his instrument. Fy hoedo"n fiddle playing became his violin concerto. =is control inputs "ere usually smooth and al"ays deliberate, and the airplane responded to his stro'ing li'e a purring cat. It "as abundantly clear he had a fe" hours in this coc'pit. I felt comfortable informing Gvochur I "as ready for him to demonstrate the 0obra maneuver.

9he 4obra
We discussed the 0obra in our flight brief. It "ent something li'e thisH FeH #I "ould li'e you to sho" me the 0obra maneuver.# GvochurH #Nes, sure.# FeH #What entry airspeed and altitude should "e use@# Gvochur extended the fingers of both hands in a calming gesture and saidH #I sho" you.#

%hat "as it. I loo'ed to"ard our interpreter for a read on this physical punctuation, but she returned the internationally universal shoulder shrug. So I too' his brevity as an admonition against prying too much into this top-secret aerobatic phenomenon and made a mental note to be prepared to absorb as much technical data as I could during his demo. When I "as ready for the demo, he had me turn off the angle of attac' limiter and another fly-by-"ire s"itch that "as never explained completely to me. %hen he said, #I do one. We do one. Nou do one.# %he setup "as ;<. 'ilometers per hour +approximately (-. 'nots, in straight and level flight. =e pulled the stic' all the "ay bac', and the airplane pitched nose up past vertical. In a little more than one second, "e "ere more than -. degrees nose up after the stic' pull. =e recovered the plane bac' to straight and level, and the maneuver "as complete. %he speed "as about -. 'nots as the nose approached the hori9on. During the #We do one,# I "as again surprised at the non-aggressive control inputs. =e used large pedal displacements during the first half of the pitch-up then transitioned to differential throttle control to 'eep the roll and ya" minimi9ed. &or the nose-do"n recovery, the stic' "as moved "ell for"ard but not all the "ay. Differential throttle that gave "ay to rudder-pedal activity essentially 'ept us "ings-level throughout. Fy turnH I replicated "hat I had Iust ridden through, and the results "ere the same. I didn?t get past -. degrees nose up li'e Gvochur, but I "as a"ed any"ay. Despite the radical attitude change, the entire maneuver "as completed under ;7. %hroughout this seemingly suicidal contortion, the engines never complained, and there "as no implication of an impending loss of control. &un complete, I s"itched the limiter and fly-by-"ire s"itches bac' to their normal positions, and "e headed bac'. During the (.-minute return trip, I solidified my opinions about aggressive aiming corrections leading to over-controlling "ith a series of moc' attac's on Western /ussian countryside and clouds. Df course, there "as no real need for aggressive maneuvering to sight in on these stationary targets, and I also verified that fact as patience re"arded me "ith easily accomplished, precise aiming. I also had time to verify other observationsBparticularly in the human factors or pilot4airplane-interface arena. %he heads-up display +=UD, symbology "as slightly out of focus. I don?t 'no" "hether this is true in all Su-5Cs, but I didn?t li'e it. Unli'e, say, our &-(2 pilots, Su-5C pilots don?t use the =UD as a primary flight display. It contains the necessary informationBairspeed, altitude, attitude, etc.Bbut it?s more of a reference of convenience.

Pilot;air&la"e i"ter%ace
%here?s another /ussian display issue I Iust plain don?t li'e and that?s the attitude indicator. Unli'e the airplanes most of us are accustomed to, "here the airplane symbol remains fixed and the artificial hori9on behind it moves, the attitude indicator in the Su-5C does the opposite. With ours, the artificial hori9on al"ays remains parallel to the real hori9on. If "e perform a ;.-degree ban' turn in a cloud, the airplane and airplane symbol are ;. degrees to the artificial hori9on. When "e emerge from the cloud, the airplane is ;. degrees to both the artificial and real hori9ons. In the Su-5C and other /ussian airplanes, the artificial hori9on remains fixed relative to the airframe, and the airplane symbol moves. 3merging from a cloud in a ;.-degree ban', the pilot "ould see the artificial hori9on ;. degrees to the real hori9on and the airplane symbol ;. degrees to the artificial hori9on. %hat places the airplane symbol !. degrees to the real hori9on in a ;.-degree ban' turn. In a -.-degree ban', the airplane symbol is inverted "hen compared "ith the real hori9onBnot the best method of preserving spatial orientation, in my opinion.

7a"di"'
0leared for a straight-in approach to a touch-and-go, I configured the plane for landing. %he landing gear extended along "ith a symmetric flaperon and slat deflection. Faintaining altitude during this transition "as almost a hands-free evolutionBIust a little bac'-stic' did the tric'. %he airplane?s generally good manners continued throughout the landing approach. 6ateral control felt a bit mushy to me, but longitudinal and lateral stic' force and displacement harmony felt right. >itch response in the flare "as predictable, and setting the landing attitude came easily the first time. We had a fe" 'nots of cross"ind, but it posed no centerline control problems. %he main gear provided a soft touchdo"n, and the nose lo"ered naturally "ith no unusual pilot effort. I selected full non-afterburner po"er for the go, desiring to minimi9e fuel consumption and hoping for an additional touch and go. Gvochur had another idea. I felt him moving the throttles and calling for $, so that?s "hat I did. Dnce airborne, I intended to leave the gear do"n, being Navy-trained, but again, Gvochur insisted on cleaning up the airplane. I "as beginning to resent his unbriefed participation in my ta'eoff "hen his

reasoning became clear. I felt the stic' begin to move bac' and soon reali9ed "hat he had in mindBa loop. While I didn?t care for this surprise, I concluded that then "as not the time to discuss it. We continued to accelerate as "e climbed, pulling more and more bac'-stic' throughout. We topped out approximately (,2.. feet above the run"ay, and the higher airspeed coming do"n the bac' side of the loop allo"ed enough 7 to finish the loop at (,... feetBpattern altitude. Dut of gas, my next landing "as a full stop. lthough the Su-5C?s stinger tail cone houses a drag chute, the three miles of run"ay obviated even a consideration of its use. Normal rudder-pedal activity 'ept the airplane on centerline throughout the roll-out, and the full-time nose"heel steering too' over transparently from the rudders as speed decayed. Instrument student pilots 8uip that one pee' from under the hood is "orth a thousand scans. Well, one flight is "orth a thousand hours of poring over tactical manuals and performance-chart overlays. =aving flo"n most of the U.S. fighter inventory at the time, I gained immeasurable insight into the relative capabilities of their best and our best. s impressed as I "as "ith the performance of the Su-5C, I came a"ay from my flight 8uite secure in our o"n capabilities. %o say this flight "as the thrill of a lifetime might sound overplayed, until you consider it "as an opportunity of a lifetimeBfor "hich I remain extremely grateful.

U.S. Navy aircra%t desi'" com&ariso"s


In the tables that follo", "e?ve attempted to compare the fighter4bomber mission performance of the &-()D, &-(2 , &-(23 and Su-5C. We cannot obtain or use classified U.S. Navy data. =o"ever, #*ane?s ll %he World?s ircraft# is presumably an accurate source of aircraft data. %actical missions and loads differ from aircraft to aircraft, but an aeronautical engineer can extract some valid, nearly accurate comparisons and conclusions. So here "e go. We apologi9e for dragging you through the technical mud1 %able ( compares the &-(2 , &-(23, &-()D, -!3 and Su-5C in the long-range fighter4bomber mission. In so doing, some fundamental issues of physics begin to emerge.
TABLE 1 Weight empty (lb.) %il&t '() 'mm& (lb.) *u(+ bullet ,i-e (mm) '() (&. &. /&u(), 1(te/('l .uel (lb.) E2te/('l .uel (lb.) AA3 (2)4 Si)e5i()e/, 6&. &. .uel t'(7, '() 8'p'8ity &. e'8h t'(7 B&mb 5eight (lb.) B&mbl&')+ (umbe/ '() type T'7e-&.. g/&,, 5eight (lb.) T'7e-&.. .uel 5eight ', : &. g/&,, T'7e-&.. 5eight F-18A 2 !8 2 # # 2"0#7" 1"!86" 7!4 1 472 0 " 4!""" 47!1 " 7.# F-18E "!#64 # # 2"0#7" 14!4"" 7!2"6 472 2048" 4!""" #7!177 6.8 F-14D 4 !87$ 8 8 2"067# 16!2"" !8#4 472 2028" 8!""" 7 !2# 27.4 A-6E 27!888 #"" " 1#!$ $ " " " 8!""" #2! 27 ".# " 472 " 8!""" 68!27# ".4 Su-27 8!#8" #"" "01#" 2"!72

22 37849 42 378

42 3784 42 3784 42 3784

9 T5& 1!"""lb. 37 8 , u,e) i( De,e/t F&2! (&t 2!"""lb. 37 84.

%he message of %able ( is that big is beautiful1 %he &-(2 and substantially puffed-up &-(23 don?t carry much of a "eapon load compared "ith the big guys. s you "ill see in the next table, they don?t carry it very far either, in spite of their huge external fuel loads that prevent large "eapon load-outs by using up "ing store stations. Note the large ta'eoff fuel percentagesH the big boys fly farther on less fuel, as %able 5 sho"s. Dne caution in vie"ing these numbersA although they have been extracted from #*ane?s,# aircraft companies are marvelously innovative at hiding the facts "hile appearing to be completely candidA "e?ve been there. &urther, for some numbers in the table and the tables that follo", "e have made corrections to establish a common baseline. No" that "e have a common attac' mission, let?s address the mission performance and fundamental aero4propulsion issues. %able 5 clearly sho"s "here #big is beautiful# comes from. 6oo' at the radius

multiplied by bomb-load factor +/ x $,. %he &-()Ds and the SU-5Cs have t"ice the capability of the &-(2s, so only half as many aircraft and cre" need to be endangered +the bombs are t"ice as big and in-flight refueling is rarely needed,. %he mission radius comparison spea's for itself.
TABLE 2 St&/e ,t'ti&(, F-18A (2) 2!#"" (2) 2! #" (1) 2!4"" Wi(g '/e' (,<. .t.) Wi(g,p'( Se' le=el ,t'ti8 '.te/bu/(e/ th/u,t (lb.) Att'87 5i(g l&')i(g (b&mb, &( b&'/)) (lb.0,<. .t.) > 6": .uel Wi(g l&')i(g (b&mb, )/&ppe)) (lb.0lb.) > 6": .uel Att'87 th/u,t05eight (lb.0lb.) > 6": .uel Th/u,t05eight (b&mb, )/&ppe)4 lb.0lb.) > 6": .uel Tu/(i(g )/'g0li.t .'8t&/ Att'87-mi,,i&( /')iu, i( (.m. ?')iu, 2 b&mb l&') (? 2 B)4 (.m. 2 lb.01!"""!""" 91 @ 6& '.te/bu/(e/! 4"" 7.# 2!""" 1"" $" .8" .8$ 28.# 2$" (92) 1.16 F-18E S'me ', F-18A S'me ', F-18A S'me ', F-18A #"" 44.7 44!""" $8 $" .$" .$8 24.4 1.#6 9 F-14D (4) 2!""" (2) 2!2"" (2) 1!8"" #6# 64.10 8.2 ##!6"" 11# 1"1 .8# .$7 1#.$ .22 A-6E (#) ; ; 484 # !6"" Su-27 (7) 2!""" ; ; 667 48.2

18!6"" (91) ##!1"" $4.$ 6A 6A 6A 16.4 #"" (92) 4."" $" 78 .$2 1."6 2#.8 42" (92!9 ) . 6 6A @ (&t '='il'ble

$" (92) 4"2 (92)

92 @ ABi-l&-l&-hiA mi,,i&(!

@ %/&b'bly l&5!

Wing loading and thrust to "eight re8uire a bit more explanation. Wing loading at the attac'-mission "eight simply defines your predicament if you are Iumped "hile carrying a full bomb load. fter dropping the bombs, your "ing loading is much better, as sho"n in the tableA so is the thrust-to-"eight ratio +%4W,. Note that the &-(23 and &-()D are nearly e8ual in %4W at .-2 and .-C compared "ith the Su-5C at (..!. %he reason is that the "eight of bombs dropped is doubled for the big guys. %he turning drag4lift factor is proportional to the span loading +W4bQ5, at a given 7 loading and indicated airspeed +I S,. It is related to induced drag and is familiar to aerodynamicists. It is the dominant parameter in calculating sustained 7. In air-combat turns, the induced drag at a given 7 level is directly proportional to the span loading. With its "ings uns"ept belo" Fach .C via the s"eep programmer, the &-()?s induced drag in turns is half that of the other aircraft tabulated due to its big span +s8uared,. nd aircraft combat maneuvering at the Numa range proved that after the initial engagement, most of the time "as spent belo" Fach .C. Dne might as' "hy the &-(2s and Su-5C have almost t"ice the turning drag of the &-()D. &or the &-(2s, the straight "ing re8uires a very thin airfoil that mitigates against a big span. %he Su-5C uses s"eep to cut supersonic drag, and that allo"s a thic'er "ing section for reduced "eight but is limited in span due to pitch-up considerations in transonic turns. Is the Su-5C the perfect airplane@ NoA but it is so close that "ith a little good old merican hot-rodding and innovation, it could put us ahead of the bad guys for a long time to come.

>10?<: @<hat i" an 2!erican-i8ed Flan(er ca!e trueAB %%%1572 scale ! del " a Grumma" ,*-1A <,la"/ercat< &b# 'en *u""# n /an C, 2D1D)%
From http://www.aircraftresourcecenter.com/Gal10/9401-9500/gal9451-F-17A- uffe!/00.shtm