Tag: russia

First Completely New Russian Tu-160M Bomber Makes First Flight

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - First Completely New Russian Tu-160M Bomber Makes First Flight
The first newly built Tu-160M during its maiden flight on Jan. 12, 2022. (Image credit: UAC)

The brand new Tupolev Tu-160M ‘White Swan’ strategic missile-carrying bomber performed its debut flight.

A completely new Tupolev Tu-160M bomber performed its debut flight on Jan. 12, 2022, the Press Office of the state tech corporation announced.

“On January 12, the first newly-built Tu-160M strategic missile-carrying bomber performed its debut flight from the aerodrome of the Kazan Aviation Enterprise, a subsidiary of the Tupolev Company [part of the United Aircraft Corporation within ], on January 12,” the press office said.

The maiden flight of the “White Swan” (as the Tu-160 is nicknamed by the Russian pilots) lasted about 30 minutes and saw the bomber fly at 600 and conduct maneuvers used to inspect the aircraft’s stable and controlled operations in the air.

The Tupolev Tu-160 is a supersonic strategic missile-carrier with a variable sweep wing. The decision to resume the production of the upgraded version of the Tu-160, the Tu-160M, was made in 2015.

As a consequence, two existing Tu-160s were upgraded to the Tu-160M ​​standard under a contract with the Ministry of Defense. Overall, 15 airframes should be upgraded. The aircraft that first flew on Jan. 12, 2022 is the first newly build airframe under a contract with the Ministry of Industry and Trade out of ten advanced Tu-160M2 aircraft which will be produced for the Russian Aerospace Forces.

The new Tu-160M2 version, includes a glass cockpit, weapons upgrades, new engines and the removal of obsolete equipment no longer relevant to the Tu-160’s mission. According to the CEO of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Yury Slyusar, the new aircraft has 80% of its systems and equipment upgraded. The original Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack” first flew in 1981 and entered service in 1987.

The first flight of the first deeply modified Tu-160 (designated Tu-160M2), built from backlog airframe took place on Feb. 2, 2020 and lasted 2 hours and 34 minutes.

On Nov. 3, 2020, the first “fundamentally upgraded strategic bomber” flew from Kazan, Russia, powered by the new NK-32-02 engines . The United Aircraft Corporation said that during the flight the upgraded general systems and onboard radio-electronic equipment were tested and the performance of the new engine NK-32 of the 02 series assessed.

At the moment, we can’t but notice that the new Tu-160 is often referred to as Tu-160M and M2. If any, the difference between M and M2 variants is not clear.

A big Thank You to our friend Alex Snow for helping us with some details of this story!

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - First Completely New Russian Tu-160M Bomber Makes First Flight
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea
Some screenshots from the Russian MOD video show the Tu-160s, accompanying Su-35S and an Italian Eurofighter Typhoon. In the bottom left hand box, a screenshot from FR24.com.

Two Tu-160s have flown over the Baltic region. NATO, Finnish and Swedish fighters shadowed the Russian Blackjacks which were escorted by Su-35s.

Two Russian Aerospace Forces Tu-160 Blackjacks carried out an 8-hour mission that brought the bombers off the Baltic States on Sept. 21, 2021. According to the Russian MOD, the two strategic missile carriers performed a planned flight in airspace over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea.

The missile-carrier bombers were escorted by two Su-35S aircraft of the Aerospace Force and two Su-27 fighters of the Baltic Fleet’s naval aviation during their mission.

As happened last time the Tu-160s from Engels-2 Air Base in Saratov, Oblast, southwestern Russia, the Russian Long Range Aviation (LRA) trip in the Baltic region caused several NATO, Finnish and Swedish aircraft in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) to support Baltic Air Policing (BAP) to scramble.

The video released by the Russian MOD shows some of the fighters that were dispatched to identify and shadow the Russian “package” as it operated in international airspace: you can clearly see an Italian Air Force Typhoon currently deployed to Amari for Baltic Eagle II where they replaced the F-35As (the Russian MOD press release did mention the Italian fighters but misidentified them as F-16s) and Royal Danish Air Force F-16s. Finnish Air Force F-18s and Swedish Air Force JAS 39 Gripens were also launched and intercepted the Tu-160s.

Interestingly, at least one Su-35S made an appearance on Flightradar24.com, marking (to our knowledge), the very first time a Russian Flanker could be tracked online.

The Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack, is the largest and heaviest combat aircraft, the fastest bomber in use and the largest and heaviest variable-sweep wing airplane ever flown. Its first flight dates back to 1981 and its induction into active service took place in 1987.

The Tu-160 took part in the Air War in the skies over Syria; at least one Tu-160 aircraft flew a strike mission on Nov. 17, 2015 that hit ISIL targets in Syria using Russian 3M-54 Kalibur cruise missiles launched at standoff range. As of 2016, the Russian Air Force’s LRA still had 16 aircraft in service. In other words it’s a rare bird.

The Russians are already working on its replacement. The new Tu-160M2s are not be rebuilt, upgraded existing Tu-160s, but rather new production aircraft coming from the Tupolev plant. The new Tu-160M2 version, includes a glass cockpit, weapons upgrades, new engines and the removal of obsolete equipment no longer relevant to the Tu-160’s mission. The first flight of the first Tu-160M2 took place on Feb. 2, 2020 and lasted 2 hours and 34 minutes.  The second Tu-160M, equipped with new engines NK-32 series 02 (NK-32-02), made its maiden flight a few days ago, on Sept. 17, 2021.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In Turkey

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In Turkey
The Beriev Be-200 of the Russian Federation Navy. (All images: Alex Snow)

The Russian Navy Be-200 was the first one ordered by RF Navy and crashed during a firefighting mission in southeastern Turkey.

A Russian Beriev Be-200 aircraft crashed near near Kahramanmaras, in southeastern Turkey, during a firefighting mission, to fight a fire that broke out during the day as a result of a lightning strike in the forest area on Aug. 14, 2021. According to the reports, five crew members (military, belonging to the Russian Federation) and three Turkish forest inspectors were killed in the incident (some sources say just 7 people were aboard).

Footage showing the aircraft operating in a mountainous region before crashing has already started circulating online, even though the first official Russian MOD statement about the incident claimed the Russian amphibious firefighting aircraft crashed “during landing” near Adana, where the aircraft was stationed.

The aircraft involved in the incident should be RF-88450/20 Yellow “Alexander Mamkin”, the first one ordered by the Russian Navy, that participated in the Navy parade last year, where the photos you can find in this article were taken by our contributor Alex Snow. The squadron is believed to be the Center for Combat Use and Retraining of Flight Personnel of the MA of the Russian Navy, from Yeysk, Russia.

In the future, the Russian Navy will operate the Be-200 in the Be-200P variant for anti-submarine warfare but it was initially assigned the firefighting version already operated by EMERCOM, the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters.

- Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In TurkeyRF-88450 / 20 Yellow “Alexander Mamkin”

Russian Be-200s, including those belonging to EMERCOM, regularly deploy abroad to support foreign nations’ firefighting activities. At the beginning of August, the Be-200 deployed to Greece, had flown more than 100 hours in 36 missions, worth 400 water discharges with a total volume of 2,500 tons, in 7 regions of the country, including the islands of Crete and Rhodes.

- Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In TurkeyHead on view.

According to Beriev public data, the basic configuration of the Be-200 amphibious aircraft is intended for fighting the forest fires using the fire extinguishing fluids. While doing this, the aircraft can carry out the following tasks:

  • stop and restrain the spread of the big forest fires by developing the protecting strip due to multiple drops on the fire edge;
  • extinguishing the small fire and fire which only starts to develop;
  • delivery of fire brigades and fire extingushing equipment to the fire region by landing on preselected water area of airfield, and return to the base.

“A particular feature of the Be-200 aircraft, when compared with the other amphibians, is that it has fully pressurized fuselage, which allows to fullfil a lot of missions. The aircraft is fitted with flight/navigation and communication equipment allowing the navigation and flight control at all flight phases in adverse weather conditions at any season, day and night. The interior for the Be-200 amphibious aircraft firefighting configuration is developed by AIM Aviation Fliteform. Passenger and combi configurations are on the list as well. While designing the Be-200 amphibious aircraft, the designers took into account the design experience and test results of the biggest jet amphibian A-40 “Albatross” which set 148 records,” Beriev website reports.

- Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In TurkeyBe-200 landing at dusk.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In Turkey
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Russia To Build Prototype Of Its New ‘Checkmate’ Light Tactical Fighter for Static Tests

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Russia To Build Prototype Of Its New ‘Checkmate’ Light Tactical Fighter for Static Tests
The Su-75 mock up at MAKS 2021 (All images: Alex Snow)

A prototype of the Su-75 Checkmate is going to be assembled for static tests.

Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant (KnAAPO or KnAAZ; Russian: Комсомольский-на-Амуре авиационный завод) will build a prototype of the Checkmate fighter, destined for static tests, the Russian aviation21.ru outlet reports. According to the news piece published by the aviation21.ru website, and quoting Interfax, the Checkmate would be assembled at the KnAAZ facility, belonging to Sukhoi. The company is currently working on the assembly of a prototype destined for static tests.

Russian PM, Mikhail Mishustin is currently visiting the Far East of Russia, and information released in relation to his visit at KnAAZ – as aviation21.ru reports – suggests that the static tests prototype assembly is currently underway. The Russian outlet also claims that the information available suggests that the first demonstrator was assembled at KnAAZ as well. KnAAZ is currently engaged in primary Russian fighter projects, manufacturing the Su-57 and Su-35S airframes. The airframe showcased at MAKS was then most probably a mock-up. We can say so, considering the fact that the Russian industry has only started, according to the Russian media, to work on the static tests prototype. It is usually the first airframe that takes shape before the aircraft destined for flying is actually built.

- Russia To Build Prototype Of Its New ‘Checkmate’ Light Tactical Fighter for Static TestsThe Checkmate mockup at MAKS 2021.

The Sukhoi Checkmate (referred to as the Su-75 – although this is still not an official designation yet) was unveiled on Jul. 20, 2021, during the MAKS 2021 airshow in Moscow. The prototype is to make its maiden flight in 2023, while series manufacturing and deliveries have been scheduled to begin in 2026. The Su-75 would complement the Su-57 in the Russian Air Force. Sukhoi claims a two-seat and an unmanned variant will be produced too.

- Russia To Build Prototype Of Its New ‘Checkmate’ Light Tactical Fighter for Static TestsSu-57 Felon takes off during MAKS 2021.

Aviation21.ru also provides some interesting information on the planned production of the jet: 300 airframes are expected to be delivered over the next 15 years. The Russian outlet additionally makes a direct claim that the new Sukhoi’s design would compete with the F-35 Lightning II, and the “low cost” JAS-39 Gripen. The export sales seem to be the main focus here, which is proven by the marketing strategy adopted by Sukhoi for its new aircraft as we have already noted in our previous reports on the Su-75 premiere.

40aa3850968f2c63b0e4b54329814324?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Russia To Build Prototype Of Its New ‘Checkmate’ Light Tactical Fighter for Static Tests
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.

NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time
A file photo of the Il-22PP Mute. (All images: Alex Snow)

The Il-22PP Special Mission Aircraft were intercepted over the Baltic Sea for the very first time.

Some pretty interesting close encounters between NATO fighters supporting BAP (Baltic Air Policing) mission and Russian aircraft flying in international airspace close to the airspace of the Baltic States took place on Jul. 29, 2021: overall, two Il-22PP “Mute” Electronic Warfare Aircraft, one Su-24 Fencer and an Il-76 Candid transport were tracked, intercepted and identified in the same area as they were on their way to Russia from Kaliningrad Oblast.

According to NATO, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem in Germany launched the allied fighter aircraft to intercept and identify them. The Russian aircraft did not have flight plans nor transmit transponder codes, and thus posed a potential risk to civilian flights.

The intercept mission was carried out by Spanish Air Force Eurofighters and Italian Air Force F-35s, both on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duty in the Baltic region.

Noteworthy, it was the very first time NATO intercepted the Il-22PP Porubshchik (NATO designation “Mute”) in that region. The “electronic escort” aircraft made its first appearance in 2017, during the celebrations of the 105th anniversary of the Russian air force over Kubinka. According to Piotr Butowski, the aircraft is a SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) and stand-off jamming platform, based on a converted Il-22 “Coot-B” aircraft (a command post and radio relay aircraft based on the Il-18D airliner).

According to Mikhail Khodorenok, a retired colonel and military analyst of the Gazeta.ru online newspaper, the Il-22PP was a necessity for the military when no other options were available:

“At one time, a few more options were considered: AN-140 and AN-158 planes with turbojet engines as well as the Tu-214,” he told RBTH. “However, at the time of the formation of the ‘defense procurement’ in 2009, none of these models were not yet fully ready to be equipped with the latest electronic warfare [EW] systems.”

“Of course, this is not an ideal solution,” he added, explaining why the new weapon has been placed on a “trusty old horse.” “However, for lack of a better option, a choice had to be made – either to stay without the EW aircraft, or to mount the equipment on the tested wings.”

While it might be a gap filler until  it is replaced by a more modern aircraft in the future, the Il-22PP aircraft (also nicknamed “Fridge” by the Russians – because it’s large and white..), is equipped with antennas so that it scans radio signals in the area of its activity and selectively jam those on which enemy aircraft, drones or air defense systems work.

- NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First TimeAnother image of the Il-22P. Note all the bulges of this special mission aircraft.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow
Another image of the “CheckMate”. (Image credit: Rostec)

Russia’s new stealthy fighter concept, the Sukhoi “CheckMate”, is expected to be unveiled on July 20, the opening day of MAKS.

Russia’s new 5th generation aircraft concept, the “CheckMate”, believed to be developed by the Sukhoi bureau for the export market, will be officially unveiled tomorrow, on the opening day of MAKS 2021 airshow. Yesterday we published the first image of the uncovered mock up but as we approach the official unveiling some more images are starting to leak.

The latter is particularly interesting as it shows the “CheckMate” from a different angle.

The quarter view image is actually a screenshot coming from a video that was posted on Youtube on Jul. 19, 2021, by Rostec on the company channel, where it remained public for a few hours before it was made private. Why it was pulled, it’s not clear, but it seems likely that the video (the last in a series of clips used by the Russian arms industry conglomerate social media channels to tease the new fighter concept) was not meant to be issued today and it was spoiled by mistake.

The new image (on top of the article), along with a video officially released late on Jul 18, 2021, (that you can find here below) provide additional details about the new single engine aircraft (whose designation, based on the registration RF-00075/75 Blue, could be Su-75): besides the ventral inlet (whose shape and position reminds the one of the X-32 prototype), we get a better view of the IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track) sensor in front of the slide-back bubble canopy.

Interestingly, the “CheckMate” also features some mysterious bulges at the base of the twin canted tails, possibly housing the tail actuators or something else (sensors?).

The new video also shows the circular exhaust nozzles in a bit more details.

One last detail. It looks like the CheckMate promotional video produced by Rostec has at least one scene (the ultra low altitude head-on approach while flying over the desert) that seems to have been inspired by the first official “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer. Take a look by yourself.

CheckMate video - And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow
One of the scenes of the latest CheckMate videos. (Image credit: Rostec)
Top Gun Maverick video - And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow
The opening scene of the “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer. (Image credit: Paramount)

Meanwhile, the Web is full of artworks featuring the CheckMate.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Here’s The First Clear Image Of The “CheckMate”, Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Design

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Here’s The First Clear Image Of The “CheckMate”, Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Design
This is a digitally altered (to highlight the shape of the aircraft) composite image of the CheckMate. (The Aviationist/Alex Snow using shots by @Сообщений / Paralay-Forum via A. Rupprecht)

Markings suggest Russia’s new stealth fighter might be designated the Sukhoi Su-75 “CheckMate”.

Some new interesting images of the new Russian 5th generation aircraft, the “CheckMate” have started to appear online ahead of MAKS 2021 airshow which kicks off next week. As we reported on Jul. 15, 2021, the jet, covered by black canvas, was first spotted as it was moved to the static display fuelling various theories around the shape of the “CheckMate”, believed to be developed by the Sukhoi bureau with an eye to the international market.

We finally have a better idea of the “CheckMate” thanks to photos which started circulating online on Jul. 18, 2021, thanks to Chinese Aviation subject matter expert and author Andreas Rupprecht:

Our contributor Alex Snow worked on a composite image based on the photos Rupprecht found on a Forum and created a single, wide view of the “CheckMate”  that allows us to gather additional details about the mock-up and the design concepts it embeds.

Su 75 composite - Here’s The First Clear Image Of The “CheckMate”, Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Design
Composite image showing the CheckMate (Alex Snow via A. Rupprecht @Сообщений / Paralay-Forum)

We already knew it is going to be a single engine aircraft with canted tails; now we can clearly see that is going to be a single seater featuring a delta wing and a ventral inlet (whose shape and position reminds the one of the X-32 prototype). Interestingly, the aircraft seems to have a side bay that might be similar to the side weapons bay of the Su-57 Felon.

Besides the digitized camouflage, one interesting thing is the registration, RF-00075 with bort number 75 Blue, that seems to point towards the designation Su-75 for the new type. However, it’s worth remembering that for the moment, the aircraft is just what is is: a mock up.

As already explained in our first article on the type, the concept might be designed for the export market and this would be the reason why Rostec released an ad teasing the jet that clearly pointed to UAE, India, Vietnam and Argentina as potential customers.

We will have two correspondents at MAKS 2021 and we will provide multiple updates from the airshow on this and other interesting projects.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Here’s The First Clear Image Of The “CheckMate”, Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Design
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Here’s Our First Look At Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Jet

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Here’s Our First Look At Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Jet
The new Russian aircraft. (Image via Rostec)

Rostec published some photos of a new design (or mock up) of a 5th generation fighter jet ahead of MAKS 2021 airshow next week.

Photos started circulating on Twitter on Jul. 15, 2021, of an aircraft believed to be a new Russian 5th generation design. The jet, covered by black canvas, was rolled to the static display at the MAKS 2021 show, that starts next week. 

The appearance of the mysterious aircraft did not come completely unexpected. On Jul. 11, Rostec posted a mysterious tweet that teased an announcement.

On Jul. 13, TASS, did a short report on what is expected to be the new Russian aircraft. TASS directly stated that the new jet would compete with the F-35, quoting Executive Director of Aviaport Aviation News Agency Oleg Panteleyev.  Panteleyev said that this is also the main reason why the teaser of the new design, released by Rostec, has been published in English. Rosoboronexport, as Panteleyev said, has invited over 120 delegations from 65 countries of the world to the aerospace show. This suggests that this year’s edition of MAKS may be export-focused, with a significant emphasis placed on the promotion of the new aircraft.

It remains unclear whether the airframe is a prototype or just a mock-up.

The characteristics of the jet are also somewhat cryptic. TASS claims the jet would feature low RCS, high thrust to weight ratio, advanced weapons and significant payload – these are somewhat generic descriptors, usually assigned to most of the 5th generation, or wannabe-5th-generation multirole combat aircraft. The premiere is scheduled to take place on the first day of the MAKS show in Zhukovskiy – July 20, 2021. The Aviationist will have two correspondents on site and will probably be able to provide additional details on the new stealthy aircraft.

The shape seems to be (loosely) similar to the one of the YF-23.

According to some analysts, the new aircraft has been developed by the Sukhoi bureau. Based on the hashtags used on social media and images released so far the new type could be named “Checkmate”.

As noted Stephen Trimble on his Twitter account.

We may be dealing with an export product, modeled after the Su-57 Felon, but made cheaper to operate than the first of the Russian stealthy fighter aircraft.

Yesterday Rostec released an ad teasing the jet, also pointing to the export profile of the design, suggesting UAE, India, Vietnam and Argentina might be potential customers. We have also noted that one of the pilots, in the last shot of the video, is wearing an American flight suit.


Still, for now, we know little about the jet, hence everybody needs to wait for it to be officially unveiled during MAKS 2021.

It is symptomatic, however, that Russia follows the footsteps of the US, creating a tandem of fifth-generation platforms. This may be viewed as an analogy of the US F-22/F-35 duo, with the Raptor being a counterpart of the Su-57, and Lighting being a counterpart of the new, lighter, single-engine design. Panteleyev seemingly confirmed this, saying that the new, lighter design would be an answer to tactical problems.

40aa3850968f2c63b0e4b54329814324?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Here’s Our First Look At Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Jet
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.

Russian Su-30SM With Kh-31 Supersonic Missiles “Harassed” Dutch Frigate In Black Sea

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Russian Su-30SM With Kh-31 Supersonic Missiles “Harassed” Dutch Frigate In Black Sea
A Su-30SM with two Kh-31 missiles flying close to Zr.Ms. Evertsen in the Black Sea (Image credit: Dutch MOD). In the box the Kh-31 missile (Image credit: Panther/Wiki)

The Dutch MOD said the Russian jets carried out mock attacks on HNLMS Evertsen frigate in the Black Sea last week. Photos show at least one of the Su-30SM aircraft carried Kh-31 missiles.

Russian aircraft “repeatedly harassed” Royal Netherlands Navy frigate Zr.Ms. Evertsen (HNLMS Evertsen) in the Black Sea, the Dutch MOD claimed today. The Dutch frigate, that is part of the British HMS Queen Elizabeth Strike Group, was sailing some 70 nautical miles south-east of Crimea when armed Russian aircraft carried out mock attacks on Evertsen on Jun. 24, 2021.

The incident occurred the day after HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer also part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, was buzzed by Russian jets near Crimea: according to Moscow, a Russian Coast Guard patrol ship fired twice at the British vessel as it entered Russian territorial waters while a Russian Navy Su-24M jet dropped four bombs near the destroyer or “in its path”; according to the British MOD, the destroyer was conducting “innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law” and “no shots were directed at HMS Defender” and no bombs were dropped in her path either.

While the British MOD downplayed the Jun. 23 incident involving HMS Defender, the Dutch MOD called the Jun. 24 incident involving HNLMS Evertsen “irresponsible”.

“The planes repeatedly harassed the Everts between about 3.30 pm and 8.30 pm local time. They flew dangerously low and close by, performing mock attacks. The fighters were armed with bombs and so-called air-to-surface missiles […]. After hours of intimidation, disruptions to electronic equipment of the Evertsen also took place,” says an official note of the Dutch MOD.

“The Russian actions violated the right to the free use of the sea. In addition, they go against mutual agreements, as laid down in the INCSEA treaty. The agreement must prevent unsafe situations at sea.”

Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten calls the Russian actions “irresponsible”. “Sr.Ms. Evertsen has every right to sail there. There is no justification whatsoever for this kind of aggressive action, which also unnecessarily increases the risk of accidents. The Netherlands will address Russia about this.”

By the way, yesterday we reported about an F-35B flying over a Russian Group in the east Mediterranean Sea here.

Images released by the Dutch MOD show Russian Naval Aviation Su-30SM flying close and low over Zr. Ms. Evertsen. At least one of the multirole aircraft appears to carry two Kh-31 missiles (NATO reporting name: AS-17 Krypton).

The Kh-31 is a Mach 3 anti-radar and anti-shipping missile, that has been produced since the 1980s. Several variants of the missile are available, with different warheads. According to “Russia’s Air Launched Weapons” by Piotr Butowski, “the most interesting element of the Kh-31 design is an integral rocket-ramjet propulsion system, the 31DPK (izdeliye 52), developed by the Soyuz engine design bureau in Turayevo outside Moscow and combining a solid-propellant 31DT-1 rocket booster made by Kartukov Iskra and a 31DP ramjet made by Soyuz. The  Kh-31 is accelerated to Mach 1.8 by means of the 31DT-1; when the solid fuel is expended, the engine is ejected and the inside of the missile body is transformed into a combustion chamber for the 31DP ramjet, which accelerates the missile to Mach 3.5 at an altitude of 16,000m (52,493ft), or Mach 1.8 at sea level.”

The Kh-31A (AS-17B) is the anti-shipping derivative of the missile that entered production in 1990. With an active radar seeker, it works in both lock-on before and after launch modes and also has a radio altimeter for precise low-altitude flight over water. Its maximum range is 50 km and the minimum launch distance is 7.5 km. The upgraded Kh-31AM is believed to have an extended range (120-160 km).

H/T @DutchSpace for the heads-up!

Russian missile  MAKS Airshow 2003 - Russian Su-30SM With Kh-31 Supersonic Missiles “Harassed” Dutch Frigate In Black Sea
Russian Kh-31-missile (NATO-code: AS-17 Krypton) attached to the left wing of a russian fighter aircraft, displayed at the MAKS Airshow 2003. (Image credit: Panther/Wiki)

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Russian Su-30SM With Kh-31 Supersonic Missiles “Harassed” Dutch Frigate In Black Sea
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

F-35B From British Aircraft Carrier Had A Close Encounter With A Russian Navy Warship In The Eastern Med Sea

No Comments
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - F-35B From British Aircraft Carrier Had A Close Encounter With A Russian Navy Warship In The Eastern Med Sea
The NOTAM that announced the Russian naval activity in the eastern Med. In the screenshots, the F-35B that flew close to the Russian group and two Tu-22M3 bombers (via Russian MOD).

A Russian exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, involving five warships as well as Tu- 142MK, Il-38, Tu-22M3 and MiG-31K aircraft, provided an opportunity for a close encounter with at least one F-35B operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Russian Aerospace Forces have kicked off an exercise in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Jun. 25, 2021. As the Russian MOD announced in a public statement, five ships of the Russian Navy (the Moskva missile cruiser; the Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov frigates, as well as two submarines, the Stary Oskol and Rostov-on-Don), together with Tu-142MK and Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft, Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers and MiG-31K aircraft are involved in the exercise, whose goal is to train combat forces to ensure the security of two key Russian bases in Syria: Khmeimim airbase and Tartus.

At least two MiG-31K, an Il-38 ASW aircraft, and three Tu-22M3 bombers have arrived at Kheimim airfield in Syria, whose capabilities have been expanded with the extension of the runway and the completion of a second runway. These works, completed in May, have allowed Moscow to deploy its LRA (Long Range Aviation) bombers along with the missile-carrier aircraft to the airbase on the Mediterranean Sea and launch missions from there.

The Russian MOD told reporters on Jun. 28 that the MiG-31K armed with the air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile and Tu-22M3 bombers performed training flights escorted by Su-35 and Su-34 aircraft during the eastern Med drills.

“As part of the joint exercise, the crews of MiG-31K aircraft, capable of using the latest hypersonic missiles from the Kinzhal missile, and long-range Tu-22M3 bombers made regular training flights in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, during which they completed the tasks of mastering the air space in maritime zone”, said the Defense Ministry. Some simulated missile launches were carried out by the MiG-31s using the Kinzhal missile during exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, according to Interfax.

For some context, here’s what we wrote when the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted the first successful test firing of the Kinzhal in 2018:

Kinzhal is claimed to be a strategic air-to-surface strike missile. The missile is claimed to have maneuverable flight characteristics not typically seen in hypersonic, solid fuel missiles. Observers of Russian missile programs have voiced skepticism about Russia’ performance claims however. According to Russians and reference sources the Kinzhal missile has a top speed of Mach 10 and maintains some ability to maneuver throughout its performance envelope including at hypersonic speed. If accurate, these capabilities could make the Kinzhal difficult to intercept by anti-missile systems. The missile is reported to have a range of 1,200 miles (approximately 2,000 kilometers). This, added to the reported 1,860-mile unrefueled range of the MiG-31BM long range, supersonic interceptor, gives the Kinzhal potentially intercontinental strike capability. The missile is also reported to be nuclear-capable and able to hit ground as well as naval targets.

Footage released by the Russian MOD provides also some additional details. First of all, the Tu-22M3 flew with Kh-22 anti-ship cruise missiles in the video. Indeed, the Backfire was primarily developed as an anti-ship missile carrier for the Soviet/Russian supersonic Kh-22/32 anti-ship missiles with range of up to 1,000 km (621 miles) as well as for smaller Kh-15 missiles with range of up to 300 km (160 miles).

Interestingly, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently reportedly operating in the Med Sea, south of Cyprus. It seems quite likely that the Russian aircraft have carried out already (or will, in the next days) perform some simulated attack on the British aircraft carrier and her strike group. For sure, the proximity between the has already provided an opportunity for a close encounter, as proved by a video, also released on Jun. 28, showing an F-35B from HMS QE flying near Russian Admiral Makarov frigate.

As already explained, on her maiden operational deployment (dubbed CSG-21), HMS Queen Elizabeth, with F-35B jets belonging to both the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps VMFA-211 Wake Island Avengers, based at MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Yuma, Arizona, is heading to the Indo-Pacific region as the flagship of the largest naval and air task force under British command since the Falklands war. However, as planned, before reaching the troubled waters of the South China Sea, the British aircraft carrier will supporting counter-Daesh operations in Iraq and Syria. During her stay in the Med, it’s quite likely the Russians will keep an eye on the British aircraft carrier group and viceversa.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - F-35B From British Aircraft Carrier Had A Close Encounter With A Russian Navy Warship In The Eastern Med Sea
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.
%d bloggers like this: