Su-47 ‘Berkut’ didn’t fly, but became an experimental demonstrator

WASHINGTON — There are technologies in the world that claim to change the sphere in which they exist. There are so many unknown projects born on the drawing board that never got the chance to come to fruition. Some overcame the “curse of paper” and got a chance to redeem themselves in at least one prototype. And that’s it.

Su-47 'Berkut' didn't fly, but became an experimental demonstrator
Photo credit: Pinterest

Both the US and Russia and anyone with even a small arms industry has halted projects that we will never know about. But the Su-47 exists, at least in one unit – a prototype. The Su-47 sees no future development, at least not as a primary combat aircraft.

The Sukhoi Su-47 is also known as the S-3, as well as the S-37, as well as its name is Firkin, or the Russian Berkut, meaning golden eagle. Many names for just one prototype. But the Su-47 was not developed as an aircraft for serial production, but as a future experimental demonstrator of Russia’s combat aircraft after it. And so it happens that to this day, the technologies, practices, mistakes, and obstacles overcome in the Su-47 prototype are used to improve the capabilities of Russian aviation. The Su-47 is no accident, especially considering that the technological advances made in its construction helped the Russians make the Su-35 Flanker and the Su-57 Felon.

There’s something you’ll always know about this model. Even if you don’t know every single name of the Russian fighters when you see the wings of the Su-47 it is immediately clear to you that it is completely different from the others in the world. Its wings are forward-swept wings, which reportedly provided the plane with excellent agility and maneuverability. Apart from the inverted canard delta wings, the Su-47 has no horizontal stabilizer. On the other hand, there are dual vertical stabilizers.

It is difficult to say what the advantage of such a design is. Opinions differ. Some claim that this wing design provides a very high angle of attack with unprecedented levels of stability and control. I.e. the aircraft is highly maneuverable and efficient when flying low over the surface, be it land or water. But, according to other experts, the speed of the plane suffers from this. I.e. it is slow and to gain altitude at low speed it must have an afterburner.

Su-47 'Berkut' didn't fly, but became an experimental demonstrator
Photo credit: Pinterest

The life of the project is very small. Su-47 was born at the end of the cold war and the fall of the iron curtain and “died” with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which should not surprise us at all. Many projects during this time also find their end and never see the “present world”. Some say it could have been an amazing plane, but we’ll never know.

In 2002, however, the Su-47 was assigned an unusual role – a test bench for composite materials, as well as wire controls. However, we must note one fact: the plane had serious weaponry. It had 14 hard points, meaning it was capable of carrying four air-to-air missiles and seven air-to-surface missiles.

Today, the Su-47 is an experimental demonstrator. The last time the public was able to catch a glimpse of it was nearly three years ago in Moscow during an international air show.


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