by Rick Bourassa
FireFox lives! Remember that Clint Eastwood movie? Well, it seems our friends in the east have a new toy to fly, and it's name is "Golden Eagle" or Berkut.
The number designation is still not clear, being either S-32 or S-37, the latter being used at Janes and the unveiling, and the former by the Sukhoi company. It first flew on Sep 25th, piloted by Igor Votinsey, just two weeks after the F-22 Raptor. Its obvious features include a forward swept wing, canards as well as tailplanes and smaller vertical stabilisers than found on the Su-27 series. It is 75 feet long and a 55ft span wing is made almost entirely of composite materials.
The Su-37 has twin vectored thrust engines, complementing the forward swept wing giving the large aircraft extreme agility at high Alfa (AOA) in keeping with current CIS doctrine. The airframe exhibits many stealthy charachteristics (in particular, the engine inlets are rounded, much like the French Rafael) and is coated with radar\EM absorbent materials. It will be armed with two R-73 (AA-11) Archers and two R-27 (AA-10) Alamos, carried conformally under the fuselage, as well as a GSh-30(1) 30mm cannon (150 rounds) carried internally.
With this armament, the ferry range is 2,400 miles, combat radius of 930 miles, with a maximum speed of 760kts sealevel and 1350kts at altitude. Weight class is 57,000lbs to 74,000lbs. The rear of the plane has two stingers, one of which is longer than the other, and may contain a rear-facing defensive radar, or advanced ECM gear. The engines used in the prototype are the same found on the Mig-31M (D-30F6), but production planes may use uprated Su-35 powerplants.
The Berkut is intended to be used in both AA and AG roles, perhaps even a long range precision strike role, if a two seat version is developed. Of course, these days the greatest threat to the Raptor and Berkut aren't each other, but budget slashing bureaucrats found in most countries around the world. This is not the case for China, Syria and Iran, or for that matter, any Mid-East country.
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Last Updated November 20th, 1997