History Of Russia's Yakovlev Yak-141, Advanced Technology Used by US F-35 Fighter

History Of Russia's Yakovlev Yak-141, Advanced Technology Used by US F-35 Fighter
History Of Russia's Yakovlev Yak-141, Advanced Technology Used by US F-35 Fighter

International Military - Yakovlev Yak-141 is a supersonic fighter jet that has vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities. The fighter aircraft designed by the Yakolev company in the Soviet Union era were usually called the Yak-41, but by NATO it was given the name Freestyle.

Yakovlev offered the Yak-141 design to the Soviet military in 1975 to answer the Soviet Navy's need for a fighter aircraft. At that time the Soviet Union did not have large aircraft carriers, so it decided to build fighters that could take off from narrow platforms such as the Project 1123 class cruisers Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev.

The Yak-141 aircraft design is able to outperform its predecessors, the Yak-36 and Yak-38, as well as similar foreign-made aircraft, such as the Harrier and Dassault Mirrage IIIV, to become the best VTOL aircraft. The first prototype of the Yak-141 was completed in 1987 and a total of 4 prototype aircraft were built, two for static tests and two for flight tests.

Quoted from Military Today, a successful flight test was carried out in 1990, when the aircraft made went through a full test program. These include vertical take-off and landing, short take-offs, flying at supersonic speed then decelerating, hovering and landing. In 1991 two prototype aircraft made the first vertical landing on the light carrier Kiev class in Baku.

In 1991 during one flight, the new aircraft set 12 world records in its class. One of his records is achieving a vertical takeoff of 12 km. After this flight, the new aircraft was named Yak-141. However, this program was terminated in 1991 after a carrier landing accident. After the Soviet Union collapsed, military funds were very limited.

In 1992 the Yak-141 program was finally scrapped. Moreover, in 1995 Russia decommissioned all the Kiev-class aircraft carriers, for the Yak-141 aircraft landing platforms. However, it was unique when at the Farnborough International Air Show in 1992 and the Le Bourget International Air Show in 1993, the appearance of the Yak-141 received the highest attention and value for its unique technology.

Designers from the Yakovlev bureau created a layout with one engine, which rotates 95 degrees downwards, known as a rotating nozzle. Plus two additional vertical thrust engines, in the center of the fuselage, just behind the center of gravity. This engine will only start during vertical takeoff, vertical landing, and hovering.

Several countries showed interest, but no orders were placed. Quoted from the Bulgarian Military page, on the NASA website, there is a document from 1993, where it is written that the United States (US) plans to study all the developments of the Yak-141 and Yak-38 aircraft.

It is known that in the early 1990s Lockheed Martin entered into a partnership with Yakovlev for the further development of the Yak-141 aircraft. It is possible that Lockheed Martin's funding for the construction of additional Yak-141 prototypes, was a cover for the purchase of technical data for the Yak-141 project.

Yakovlev and Lockheed Martin collaborated from 1991 to 1997, and soon after, US VTOL fighter development began to move forward. The first X-35A prototype was launched in 2000 and made its maiden the same year.

In 2015, the F-35 aircraft introduced a short takeoff and vertical landing (VTOL) version, namely the F-35B, which the US Marine Corps operates. The focus on the three-section rotary nozzle technology on the F-35 is very similar to that on the Yak-141. AS radically changed the Pratt & Whitney 3BSD rotary nozzle design. The locations of the lifting fan compartments and the tail boom of the fuselage are mounted relative to the lifters at the same angle as on the Yak-141. In the middle of the fuselage, the F-35B uses a scheme that tends to be simple and effective, using a "cold" lift fan. The transmission is driven from a piston engine with rotating nozzles.

The difference is that on the Yak-141 aircraft, the rotating nozzle has a multi-layered structure, with each layer being made of a special type of alloy. Vanadium-titanium and vanadium-chromium form its basis. Meanwhile, the rotating nozzle of the F-35 uses heat-resistant ceramic, the same as the Space Shuttle. As of December 2022, more than 875 F-35 aircraft have been produced by the US.

There are three modifications, the first basic version is called the F-35A and is considered the simplest. There is a short takeoff version of the F-35C VTOL built from which the F-35B is the most technically advanced in the F-35 range. The development program cost USD 55.1 billion.

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