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Russia tries something different – an ‘electric’ Su-57 fighter jet

MOSCOW, (BM) – Russian aerospace forces can get an “electric plane.” On a fifth-generation fighter, hydraulic systems will be replaced by electric engines, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Izvestia. This will reduce the radar visibility of the machine, increase its maneuverability and simplify maintenance.

Read more: Russian Su-57 fighter jet is a failure because of bad decisions, US claims

It is planned that the “electric” Su-57 will be able to fly in 2022. According to experts, the modernization will also make the fighter more tenacious when hit by missiles and shells.

Hydraulic Failure

The first flight of the prototype of the modernized Su-57 should take place in mid-2022, sources in the military-industrial complex told Izvestia, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

Currently, engineers are working on the transition to a fully electromechanical drive of all control surfaces on a fifth-generation Russian fighter. This will increase the already good maneuverability of the aircraft and will give a number of advantages during its maintenance.

In accordance with the test plan will take at least two years. It is necessary to check the flight characteristics of the machine, as well as the electromagnetic compatibility of the new equipment. The system must be reliably protected from internal and external interference and lightning discharges.

Switching to fully electric drives is technically challenging. But if successful, the result will be amazing, experts say. Refusal from hydraulic lines and mechanisms facilitates the aircraft, simplifies and cheapens its repair: parts, in case of malfunction, are easier to replace. It will no longer be necessary to deal with hydraulic fluid leaks and use toxic oil. Electric motors are lighter and more accurate, as well as smaller in size.

Read more: The Su-57 fighter jet is not even ready to fly, Russian specialists say

According to the test pilot of the Hero of Russia Oleg Mutovin, electromechanical drives will seriously increase the survivability of military vehicles.

“In flight, the aircraft maneuvers by moving the so-called control surfaces: ailerons, stabilizers, rudders, etc.,” he explained to Izvestia and continued – “Before the era of jet aviation, pilots could control the aircraft without the help of amplifiers. But when the machines became reactive, their combat load increased and speed increased, the pilots’ strength was already lacking. Therefore, aircraft manufacturers began to actively introduce hydraulic amplifiers – boosters. Without them, piloting a modern combat aircraft is physically difficult, if at all possible”.

According to Oleg Mutovin, modern combat vehicles are equipped with complex and powerful high-pressure hydraulic systems. For their work in the wings and fuselage of the aircraft have to lay pipes for hydraulic fluid. They take up quite a lot of space and are very vulnerable during aerial combat or shelling.

Read more: Russian Su-57 vs U.S. F-35 – the F-35 is likely to destroy Su-57, China said

“On some modern aircraft, the pressure exceeds 300 atmospheres. Therefore, damage to the tube causes all fluid to fly out in seconds, and the booster will stop functioning. Unfortunately, I myself have been in this situation,” said the test pilot. – “When using high-speed electric drives, wires are connected to them instead of high-pressure lines. They can be duplicated many times and spread out over the area. So damage will not completely disable the drive. In addition, he does not require fluid, which is often flammable and toxic. In the future, you can save on the weight of hydraulic pumps and highways.”

“More electric”

The military and civil aviation of the United States and Europe are now actively working on the creation of the so-called “More Electric Aircraft”. They try to replace traditional mechanical and hydraulic systems with electric drives. This approach is considered advanced.

The farthest American foreign fighter traveled along this path was the American F-35. Among its key advantages, the manufacturer considers a mixed electro-hydraulic system. American designers refused to combine the hydraulic system for the control surfaces of the aircraft. Now each element of the plumage, whether it is rudders or flaps, has its own independent hydraulic circuit, which is controlled by an electric drive.

But a complete departure from hydraulics is even more promising. The development of electromechanical drives is considered for their projects in the Swedish company SAAB, which produces fighter Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

Read more: Russian Su-57 will not be able to shoot down F-22 or F-35 from a long distance

Increasingly, this approach is used in advanced civilian liners. One of the innovations of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was its all-electric chassis brakes, which replaced a complex hydraulic system. They are not only easier, but also allow more accurate control in real time of all operating parameters, including wear pads.

Promising modernization

First flying into the air at the beginning of 2010, the Su-57 is in the final stages of testing. The fifth-generation Russian aircraft has not yet been adopted, but several modernization programs are already being prepared for it. In particular, the fighter platform will become the basis of domestic combat aviation in the coming decades. Therefore, the machine still has many transformations.

The most famous of the ongoing work concerns equipping the Su-57 with a second stage engine. Now the prototype and first production samples of the Su-57 “basic look” get turbojet AL-41F1, also known as “product 117”. They belong to the modernized fourth generation. Flight tests of the latest fifth-generation propulsion system, Product 30, are already underway.

According to Deputy Minister of Defense Alexei Krivoruchko, new engines will be more economical in fuel consumption and with a lower life cycle cost. It is also known that with them the fighter will be able to continue flying at supersonic speeds without the use of afterburner. A powerful power plant will be able to provide all the needs of a “more electric” aircraft.

Read more: Dogfight! Russia’s Su-35 and Su-57 vs. F-35 Stealth Fighter Jet

After completion of the tests and the start of serial production of new engines, they will also be installed on fighters already manufactured. Together with the electrical control system, they must fully reveal the capabilities of the aircraft.

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