Pioneer of Supersonic VTOL Aircrafts: Yakolev 141 Freestyle

4 June 2020, 09:58

Year 1987. During the Cold War, USSR brought a brilliant aircraft never seen before to aviation industry that capability of making vertical takeoff and landing.

In 1976, Yakolev started a project demand of a navy plane for USSR’s Kiev class light carriers. The aim was, building fighters were capable of flying at Mach 1. Before the project, Britain had their own VTOL aircraft named Harrier and SSCB also made YAK-38 which is exactly looking like Harriers. But these aircrafts were not capable of breaking the sound barrier.

The Yak 141, also known as the Yak 41 was quite faster than its elder brother. Unlike the Yak 38, the Freestyle was significantly manueverable. In addition it had long range capacity and high altitude performance. Despite of the first plane had been produced in 1976, the Yak 141 made its first vertical landing to a carrier in september 1991 just months before the Soviet disintegration.

The Yak 141 had 3 turbojet engines. 2 RD-41 lift engine placed rear of the cockpit for vertical takeoff and landing and 1 Tumansky R-79 main engine for cruise flight beside helps VTOL charasteristic with its 95 degree moveable form. The Freestyle could reach Mach 1.4 (1800 km/h) with its exquisite Tumansky R-79 engine.

Yakolev ended the project in 1992 due to lack of funding. At that year U.S. defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin cooperated with Yakolev to gain Yak 141’s critical technologies for its X-35 VTOL project which would come to be the F-35 in 2006.

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