S-37 May Appear at Farnborough
Unofficial sources at Sukhoi suggest that the company is considering exhibiting its most modern combat aircraft - the S-37 Berkut with forward-swept wings - the Farnborough Air Show this year. Although Sukhoi insists that the Berkut is an experimental aircraft, press reports have claimed that it is lobbying the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) for funds to develop the aircraft into a fully capable fighter.
Mikhail Pogosyan, General Director of Sukhoi, has said that flight tests of the one operable example of the S-37 would continue for four or five years, but that its future rests with the MoD. Some observers consider that the evolution of the S-37 into a fully capable fighter is possible. Pogosyan was Chief Designer of the aircraft prior to his appointment as General Director. As an example of his own design expertise, the S-37 is, therefore, one in which he has a particular vested interest. The volume of sales of Sukhoi fighters to India and China may also make the full-scale development of the S-37 project financially viable.
Sources at Sukhoi add that Mikhail Simonov, still General Designer at Sukhoi, has taken a back seat in the last six months, leaving all the major decisions to the ambitious Pogosyan. This follows rumors of his possible move to a possible upgrade start up early in December.
A not entirely unexpected competition for the fifth generation fighter appears to be opening up between the MiG 1.42, due to fly in the spring and the S-37, suggesting that the Russian defense establishment is yet to resolve some of its traditional design bureau disputes.
This is despite the planned merger of the two fighter entities, although of late, this has been somewhat sidelined by the reorganization of MAPO into RSK MiG. Whether Russia can afford such a competition is another matter and it seems curious when Sukhoi has reportedly put the S-80 multipurpose aircraft on ice due to lack of funds, that scarce funds will be devoted to this project. Sukhoi would probably argue however, that it cannot keep its fighter business competitive without continuing fifth generation developments.
From ConCISe Aerospace
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