Written by Roman Azanov; Originally appeared at TASS; Translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
What surprised the international air show in Zhukovsky and what developments the Russian defence industry has presented
The International Aviation and Space Show MAKS-2019 concluded the business part of the programme, during which contracts for the supply of aircraft and helicopters were signed, and many scientific and practical conferences were held. But still, the main thing that attracted the specialists, experts, businessmen, foreigners and aviation enthusiasts, and at the weekend will attract a huge number of ordinary visitors, is, of course, the new aircraft and various developments of the Russian defence industry, presented for the first time.
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the new products presented a the current exhibition, undeniably show that Russia’s aerospace industry is steadily developing and, keeping the best traditions of the national design school, boldly introduces modern technologies. Quality, reliability and safety of products remain unchanged.
Airplane of the 21st century
The main world premiere was the medium-haul passenger aircraft MS-21-300. It took to the air for the first time at the MAKS 2019 on opening day in front of the general public. Previously, prototypes were made only for test or ferry flights.
In total, this year at the air show there were three MS-21 aircraft, one of them, with the interior in the colour of the airshow, was shown at the stationary base.
Serial production of the MS-21 should begin in 2021. Three aircraft are now undergoing flight tests; four more are bench tested. One of the main operators of the liner will be the “Aeroflot” airline, the carrier has already signed a fixed contract for the supply of 50 such aircraft; another contract is in the works for 35 more. On the second day of the opening, it became known that the Irkut Corporation signed an agreement of intent for the supply of 15 MS-21 aircraft to regional airlines “Yakutia” and Kazakhstan’s Vek Air.
Su-57 will see the world
The fifth generation Su-57 aircraft complex has already made several demonstration flights at previous MAKS, but it is the first time that it has been exhibited at the stationary base for visitors of the airshow.
On the first day of the show, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who asked about the purchase of this fighter, inspected the aircraft. “You can buy”, said the President of the Russian Federation after a short pause with a smile. “A little later,” added in turn the head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.
Then the presidents of the two countries discussed the joint production of the Russian aircraft, including cooperation on the Su-35 and even possible work on the new Su-57. Erdogan noted that the decision will be made after the United States’ final position is clear regarding Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme. In turn, an export version of the Su-57E fighter was presented at the MAKS.
Helicopter in the Aurus style
Another new product that aroused great interest and was also shown to the presidents of Turkey and Russia is the new luxury helicopter made in the Aurus style on the basis of the “Ansat”.
The “Russian Helicopters” (part of Rostech) and the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute (developers of the Aurus car) specialists created the interior of the cabin of the machine. “I am sure that Ansat will be a worthy addition to the Aurus line and soon, upon completion of the tests, we will be ready to take orders for the new machine”, noted Andrei Boginsky, CEO of the helicopter holding.
It is known that the first-class Ansat can carry five passengers; leather and veneered aluminum are used in the decoration. More than ten changes were made to improve the ergonomics in the design of the helicopter. For the first time, a unique technology was used for the VIP-cabin of the helicopter – a light protection system with touch control was installed.
Mi-38 and Ka-62
Russian Helicopters have shown two additional interesting items – in the flight programme and on the ground the multi-purpose middle-range Ka-62 helicopter and the heavy Mi-38 were presented. The leaders of Turkey and Russia also inspected the inside of these machines, getting on board.
The Ka-62 is the third flight model built at the “Progress” plant in the Arsenyev seaside. It is expected to occupy a niche between the light Ansat helicopters and the medium Mi-8/17. The screw scheme with the tail rotor in the annular channel was used for the first time in this machine, which is non-standard for the Russian helicopter industry. Also, according to the developers, composites are widely used, up to 60% of the mass; it can carry passengers, cargo, carry out rescue operations, environmental monitoring and much more. The superior cabin version was presented at the MAKS.
The serial civilian helicopter Mi-38 with a cabin with a higher level of comfort was also presented for the first time. The Mi-38 can take on board up to 11 passengers in a complete VIP-salon setting and up to 30 people in the basic passenger version. The range of the new helicopter is up to 1200 km.
The export modification of the MiG-35 fighter was presented at the stationary base. According to the MiG Corporation CEO, Ilya Tarasenko, the characteristic features of this version were the changed geometry of the airframe and the updated airborne radar equipment system.
Additionally, the equipment includes radar with active phased array (APAA), capable of capturing the capturing up to 30 air targets at the same time, a complex of opto-electronic reconnaissance, as well as an opto-location station for search, tracking and review of air, ground and surface space.
“Over the past three years, we have made a serious breakthrough in the MiG-35 programme. In the shortest possible time, we launched the production of this aircraft, conducted its tests, for two and a half years, we went from development work to a contract with the Defence Ministry,” Tarasenko said. It is planned that the aircraft will replace the forces’ MiG-29 fighters delivered before the early 1990s.
During the MAKS 2019, it became know that several countries have already approached Russia about the possible purchase of this machine. The topic of MiG-35 export supplies is also relevant in the framework of Russia’s participation in the tender for the supply of 110 medium fighters for the Indian Air Force. In the near future, it is expected to sign a new contract for the MiG-35 for the Russian Defence Ministry.
“Crocodile” is reinforced
The “Radio-Electronic Technologies” (RET) concern (part of Rostech) presented an upgraded transport and combat helicopter Mi-24P-1M with updated avionics.
According to the developers, it has a modern standardised aerobatic sighting and navigation complex, surveillance and targeting opto-electronic systems, radar with APAA (active phased array), modern, full autopilot, on-board defence systems and the new power system. The thorough modernisation of the onboard equipment of the Mi-24 allowed more then three times the increase in the efficiency of the machine.
“Fundamentally the new systems in their characteristics are several times higher than what was in the basic configuration. 90% of avionics installed are the latest developments. The result was such an effect that the flight performance and combat capabilities increased more than three times,” said the advisor to the First Deputy Head of RET Vladimir Mikheev. Also at times it increased the survivability characteristics, decreased the weight of the helicopter, which allowed increasing the radius of usage.
Mikheev also noted that the pilots of the RF’s aviation army are very interested in them, because such a class of machines over the past 30 years have not been created. In total, more than 4,000 Mi-24 helicopters were produced. They are very favourably recommended; presently abroad there are over 400 airworthy machines, of which 200 will be replaced. “We have now upgraded the Mi-24, and we have more opportunities than the American AH-64 Apache,” added the representative of the concern.
New air bomb
The “Tactical Missiles” corporation introduced a new 1500 kg K029BE bomb with inertia-satellite guidance system.
According to the developers’ data, all state trials have been fully completed, the products are delivered in parts and export contracts have already been concluded.
The UPAB-1500 is a guided gliding bomb designed to destroy ground and surface small-size, high-strength objects. The warhead weighs 1010 kg. The range is up to 50 km, and the hit accuracy is down to 10 m.
Air target simulator
Special attention at the air show was paid to unmanned aerial vehicles of various classes and purposes. Thus, Techno-Dynamics (part of Rostech) presented the latest aerial target helicopter-type simulator with a take-off weight of more than 300 kg. This development was also presented to the President during his visit to MAKS.
It is noted that a drone of this dimension was never built or tested in Russia. Its development was carried out within the framework of the programme for the creation of unmanned aircraft and helicopter types with different mass-dimensional characteristics.
The target complex consists of a drone, a ground control station, support facilities and target equipment. It can be modified, after which the drone can be used for civilian use: to monitor forest fires, agricultural plantations or transportation of petroleum products.
“In the near future, together with the Ministry of Defence, we intend to start joint state tests of a new drone as part of the target complex, the results of which will decide its delivery to the troops,” Igor Nasenkov, head of Techno-Dynamics said at Rostech.
“Berkut” in all its glory
This “cherry on the cake” of MAKS 2019 can be called an experimental fighter Su-47 “Berkut”, created by Sukhoi design Bureau in one prototype. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was the “highlight of the programme” of Russian air shows, but this time it was first shown on a stationary base.
It has an unusual appearance. The aircraft has a wing of reverse sweep and is made of composites (it is important to note that the project itself was created in the 1980s). Initially, a ship’s version of the machine was created – the wings can fold, and between nozzles the hook for landing on the deck was located.
According to open sources, five to seven years ago, this aircraft took part in tests under the PAK FA T-50 programme (the creation of a fifth-generation fighter, now the Su-57). In particular, it carried simulators of advanced guided missiles. All the information obtained during the Su-47 test flights was used at the final stages of the creation of the Su-57 cargo compartments.
To date, the project is closed and is in perpetual stand-by – as well as its age, the prototype of the fifth generation MiG-1.44 developed by the MiG Design Bureau. Nevertheless, a number of nuances in the Su-47 remained secret until now, so sometimes various materials appear in the media about the revival of this project.