Future Stealth Bomber

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Russian Stealth Bomber
Design Work Underway

by Craig Covault And David A. Fulghum

Aviation Week & Space Technology
Russia is pursuing the design and possible development of a medium stealth bomber aircraft that would be larger than the USAF F-117 stealth fighter, but smaller than the USAF B-2 strategic bomber. The work is underway at Sukhoi.

The future of the Russian stealth bomber program will be a significant indicator of the course that new Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to follow on Russian air force modernization and issues about the country's ability to wage modern warfare beyond its borders. The program is significant because it indicates Russia is pursuing not only the new SS-27 Topol ballistic missile, but also at least design and possibly prototype work on a stealth bomber, to give Russia more parity with the U.S. in both nuclear and tactical manned strike aircraft capability. The aircraft, designated the T-60S (sometimes called the S-60), most likely uses a variable geometry wing but with substantial stealth design characteristics embodied in the overall aircraft's shape.

The Russians also have examined flying-wing stealth bomber concepts for an aircraft that would be smaller than the B-2.

Sukhoi's work on the S-37 forward swept wing fighter research aircraft, which since late 1997 has made about 100 flights, is giving the company major new experience in the development of computer system and fly-by-wire software necessary to control inherently unstable stealth-type aircraft designs.

Sukhoi's new general director, Mikhail A. Pogosyan, told Aviation Week & Space Technology in Moscow recently that for many years he headedthe S-37 development team. He declined to comment on any work underway on T-60S-type aircraft, however. As recently as a month ago, a senior Russian air force general made statements that a new bomber is "a high priority and that research is underway." This follows statements in 1995 by the then-commander of the Russian air force, Col. Gen. Peter S. Deinekin, that all versions of the aged Tupolev Tu-22 Blinder bomber and the Sukhoi Su-24 Fencerwould be replaced with a new "multi-role strategic bomber."

Copyright April 10, 2000 The McGraw-Hill Companies

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