The Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut (Russian: Су-47 Беркут - Golden Eagle)

The Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut (Russian: Су-47 Беркут - Golden Eagle), also designated S-32 and S-37 during initial development, is an experimental supersonic jet fighter developed by Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. A distinguishing feature of the aircraft is its forward-swept wing, similar to that of the Tsybin's LL-3. Its NATO reporting name is "Firkin". The sole aircraft produced is an advanced technology demonstrator prototype and manufacture of a planned second flying prototype was canceled. Originally known as the S-37, Sukhoi redesignated its advanced test aircraft as the Su-47 in 2002. Officially nicknamed Berkut (Golden Eagle), the Su-47 was originally built as Russia's principal testbed for composite materials and sophisticated fly-by-wire control systems. The aircraft makes use of forward-swept wings allowing superb maneuverability and operation at angles of attack up to 45° or more. TsAGI has long been aware of the advantages of forward-swept wings, with research including the development of the Tsibin LL and study of the captured Junkers Ju 287 in the 1940s. Forward-swept wings yield a higher maximum lift coefficient, reduced bending moments, and delayed stall when compared to more traditional wing shapes. At high angles of attack, the wing tips remain unstalled allowing the aircraft to retain aileron control. Unfortunately, forward sweep also induces twisting (divergence) strong enough to rip the wings off an aircraft built of conventional materials. Only recently have composite materials made the design of aircraft with forward-swept wings feasible. Like its US counterpart, the Grumman X-29, the Su-47 is primarily a technology demonstrator, one intended to lay the foundation for the next Russian fighter. Such a fighter must not only be as advanced as the US F-22 Raptor, but must also compete for funding with the more conventional MiG 1.44. However, Sukhoi is now attempting to market the Su-47 to the Russian military and foreign customers as a production fighter in its own right. The Su-47 is of similar dimensions to previous large Sukhoi fighters, such as the Su-35. To reduce development costs, the Su-47 borrowed the forward fuselage, vertical tails, and landing gear of the Su-27 family. Nonetheless, the aircraft includes reduced radar signature features (including radar absorbent materials), an internal weapons bay, and space set aside for an advanced radar. Though similar in overall concept to the American X-29 research aircraft of the 1980s, the Su-47 is about twice the size and far closer to an actual combat aircraft than the US design. To solve the problem of wing-twisting, the Su-47 makes use of composite materials carefully tailored to resist twisting while still allowing the wing to bend for improved aerodynamic behavior. Due to its comparatively large wingspan, the Su-47 is to be equipped with folding wings, in order to fit inside Russian hangars. Like its immediate predecessor, the Su-37, the Su-47 is of tandem-triplane layout, with canards ahead of wings and tailplanes. Interestingly, the Su-47 has two tailbooms of unequal length outboard of the exhaust nozzles. The shorter boom, on the left-hand side, houses rear-facing radar, while the longer boom houses a brake parachute. Maneuverability The Su-47 has extremely high agility at subsonic speeds, enabling the aircraft to alter its angle of attack and its flight path very quickly while retaining maneuverability in supersonic flight. The Su-47 has a maximum speed of Mach 2.34 at high altitudes and a greater than 9g capability. Maximum turn rates, and the upper and lower limits on airspeed for weapon launch, are important criteria in terms of combat superiority. The Su-47 aircraft has very high levels of maneuverability with maintained stability and controllability at extreme angles of attack. Maximum turn rates are important in close combat and also at medium and long range, when the mission may involve engaging consecutive targets in different sectors of the airspace. A high turn rate of the Su-47 allows the pilot to turn the fighter aircraft quickly towards the next target to initiate the weapon launch. The main problem with this, however, is that the Su-47 is at a high risk to spin out of control with little chance of recovery. The swept-forward wing, compared to a swept-back wing of the same area, provides a number of advantages: * higher lift-to-drag ratio * higher capacity in dogfight maneuvers * higher range at subsonic speed * improved stall resistance and anti-spin characteristics * improved stability at high angles of attack * a lower minimum flight speed * a shorter take-off and landing distance
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