Magazine article Russian Life

Winging into the Twenty-First Century

Magazine article Russian Life

Winging into the Twenty-First Century

Article excerpt

IT'S HARD TO EXPLAIN THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE'S FASCINATION WITH THE SKY. IT MAY BE THAT THE SIGHT OF RUSSIA'S GREAT PLAINS MAKES ONE LONG TO LOOK BEYOND THE HORIZON, TO FIND OUT WHAT LIES BEHIND THAT WOOD OR LAKE. WHATEVER THE REASON, RUSSIANS HAVE LONG STOOD AT THE FOREFRONT OF MODERN AVIATION.

The first airplane built in Russia took to the sky in 1909; two years later, the Russian Army started forming special units equipped with heavier-than-air flying vehicles. During World War I, Russian aviation was transformed into a powerful combat formation, and an aircraft industry was built up in the country, coupled with advanced aviation science.

The progress of aviation did not stop even in the 1920s, which were probably Russia's hardest years. This was precisely when such famous aircraft designers as Andrei Tupolev, Pavel Sukhoi, and Nikolai Polikarpov started their careers.

The "Russian trail" in American aviation looks equally impressive. Suffice it to recall Russian engineer Alexander Seversky, designer of high-speed fighters used by the U.S. Air Force and exported throughout the 1930s, or the great Igor Sikorsky, founder of American and world helicopter engineering.

Russia is living through a difficult period today. The breakup of the USSR and related political and economic changes have necessitated a radical reform in the Russian Air Force, which faces many problems today and yet continues to be replenished with modern aircraft.

The backbone of the Russian Air Force in the 1990s consists of MiG-29 and SU-27 fighter jets. The first MiG-29 took off in October 1977. A year later, the jet went into mass production. This year the aircraft factory at Nizhni Novgorod turned out its two-thousandth MiG plane. Naturally, its latest model surpasses its predecessors in all parameters. The new supersonic jet has a large number of unique design features: two heavy-duty engines with afterburners, an advanced radar targeting system, and many other things. The MiG's radar can track up to ten air targets at the same time and aim medium-range missiles known in the West as AA-10s at two of them. The plane's shorter-range missiles have been recognized by the Americans as the world's best in their class.

The high-flying and combat characteristics of the MiG have been duly appreciated by pilots of many foreign countries that use these jets. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.