MAKS 2011 with strong ear protections !
I flew once more from Paris to the Eastern part of Europe, to attend the 10th Anniversary International Air & Space Salon MAKS 2011 airshow in Moscow Zhukovskii airfield, from August 16th to 21st August . Putting so many teams flying twin engine jets on show, this world class event has always remained top of the list of the “ must see “ events to me. As a result, having already been witnessing a few MAKS shows now, I could observe how strong Russia is coming back to the world scene, not only as a superpower selling gas and rebuilding its infrastructures, but as an aviation and military industry getting stronger with growth at exportation as well. Also for a number of reasons that follows in that report, aviation fans who feel bored by the air display scene in their own country, should consider the next MAKS shows as serious tasks to go so as to fill their cameras with enough of these heavy jet fighters photographs. Where else do you see a complete team flying four Su-30s, another one performing aerobatics with six (still no less…) Su-27s, and another one flying six MiG-29s, all in the same day, all in all with a MiG-35, Su- 35, a T-50 new stealth fighter…, a Rafale, a Strike Eagle, just to name a few…, in the display line up.
Though the Swifts were a bit dull to me, compared to their fellow Russian Knights, four Russian Falcons Su-30s from Lipetsk Air Base flew gently a tight formation with so much precision there was nearly no slight move between planes even in turns and rolls. They just stick to each other… Their spectacular and noisy display also contained a tight dogfight routine. Noisy as the Russian Falcons, were solo displays from latest of the art Sukhoi and MiG combat aircraft. Interestingly the MiG-29 OVT remains on display though it is not anymore on the airshow circuit elsewhere. The MiG-35 was flying as well though it has been rejected by India as a contender to the MMRCA contest. Surprisingly it has been reported by serious sources in Russia , that the Russian Air Force is to buy a batch of these MiG-35s soon. In 2009, the Russian Forces have ordered 48 Su-25S (Su-35 BM) to be delivered from 2012 to 2015. And a second batch of 48 of these is to be ordered soon according to Novosti. Wacuk and S. Bogdan displayed the Su-35S at its core, showing the engine vectored by thrust on three axis and powered with two AL-41F1 engines giving 16% more thrust than the Su-27’s AL- 31F . Very useful are ear protections to a photographer such as me who shoots such a (real) jet fighter right from under its tail : it looked just like hell. Latest T-50, 5th Generation Sukhoi Stealth Combat prototype was on a 2 minutes display, performing one huge roll, and landing. The airplane is filly under development, and two prototypes are flying. First T-50 protos have performed more than 100 test flights. Two more prototypes are to join the test programme. It would be nice that russian authorities give a name to that stealthy jet ; will it be the Su-40 ? Along with the Su-35S, this jet fighter will surely form the frontline of the Russian Air Defence for the next two decades.
A Su-34 light bomber from Lipetsk was displayed with huge power and agility by General Karchevskii, showing the strategic element of that rebuilt Russian Air Force. Su-34s are under production to replace a part of the huge strategic bomber fleet. Interestingly the Su-34 counterpart in the USAF was on show : the F-15 E Strike Eagle Solo Display Team provided one of the best jet solo display in the show. For once the USAF has decided to display the Strike Eagle as a very agile Fighter Bomber, and they should be congratulated as it may pay much for potential customers in South Asia, but also for Russian people at MAKS who were very excited with that display quite blessed with very much noise and power and also huge vortices in rolls. French Air Force was sent to MAKS with its Solo Team, flying a shorter display that they did at MAKS 2009. This was a good idea when one knows how many Indian officials and other potential customers from Asia and the Middle East do visit MAKS every year. I would bet there will be a Rafale at future MAKS. Would you ? More will be reported on Russia on the website. Come back regularly.