Monday, July 19, 2021

Two Things To Remember Before...

...arguably the most important event in combat aerospace this year. I am talking, of course, about the unveiling of this Russia's "mysterious" single-engine fighter which is few hours away. Since this (or parallel) question popped up on this blog, when I was reacting to the article in Drive, I need to make some clarification.    

1. Whatever the aircraft will be unveiled tomorrow (for some--today) at MAKS-2021, this aircraft will be primarily the result of a very long discussion in Russia re: single-engine fighter. Russians always admired USAF F-16 which is still in service, albeit is nearing obsolescence. Russia's last single-engine fighter was MiG-23 Flogger which got a bad rap in the West but was loved by Soviet pilots. "Checkmate" moniker refers primarily to F-35 and not to some "future" aircraft from South Korea, China or Turkey. South Korean and Turkish aircraft cannot be "responded to" because they do not exists as viable aircraft yet. China has a single-engine aircraft but it is not a "fifth generation" fighter. The new Russian aircraft will be eventually driven by brand-new Item (Izdelie) 30 engine which will increase its performance and the Checkmate in this case is addressed to the USAF F-35 namely in combat performance. Especially, since rumor has it, it is a platform which has a lot in common with SU-57 and thus is easier manufactured in large numbers. 

2. Russia seldom creates something special purely for export, those are always degraded (aka monkey models) variants of Russia's technology for domestic use, but better performance (almost guaranteed) by this fighter, with dramatically lower price (100% so) and no strings attached (146%) when compared with F-35, definitely creates a new reality for F-35 as an export item. So, that means that the aircraft we may see tomorrow will be primarily for Russia's VKS, with its "simplified" version for export. 

There WILL BE a copious amount of butt-hurt tomorrow, but that is expected. It is something like John Kirby's response to the issue of Russia's yet another successful test of 3M22 Zircon yesterday. As Kirby stated at Pentagon's briefing, it is a threat because Russians can stick a nuclear warhead on Zircon, while the United States doesn't develop such systems. There is a lot to be said about it, but, hey, that's your media (a euphemism for BS) battlefront today. Admiral Gorshkov however, successfully launched one and couple-three minutes later it struck the target 350+ kilometers away, averaging M=7 during the flight. 

State test (which are final acceptance tests) for 3M22 are planned for August. So, tick-tock, tick-tock.... 

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