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Sukhoi Su-37 Terminator – The Forgotten Fly By Wire Fighter Jet

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    Sukhoi Su-37 Terminator
    Sukhoi Su-37 Terminator

    The name "Terminator" apparently is not only pinned on armored fighting vehicles (BMPT Terminator), in Russia, the name Terminator also complements the presence of the 'forgotten' fighter jet, namely the Sukhoi Su-37 Terminator. 

    Compared to the Su-27/Su-30 series variants, the name Su-37 Terminator is clearly rarely mentioned, however, the fact is that the Su-37 Terminator had its first flight on April 2, 1997 and was officially introduced on October 25, 1997.

    In the Sukhoi family, the Su-37 is nicknamed NATO as the Flanker-F. The Su-37 Terminator was designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau as a technology demonstrator. One of its roles was to improve pilot control of the Su-27M (later renamed the Su-35). 

    The Su-37 was built from the base of the eleventh Su-27M (T10M-11) by the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association before installing thrust-vectoring nozzles.

    Apart from the addition of a thrust-vectoring nozzle, the Su-37 is not much different by design from the canard-equipped Su-27M. Instead, the engineers focused on the aircraft's avionics. Unlike the previous Su-27M, the Su-37 has a digital fly-by-wire flight control system that is directly linked to the thrust-vectoring control system.

    The weapons control system on the Su-37 Terminator has also been improved, as it includes the pulse-Doppler phased-array N011M Bars radar which provides simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground target detection capabilities. The radar is capable of tracking 20 air targets and directing missiles at eight of them simultaneously. In comparison, the baseline Su-27M N011 can only track 15 air targets and engage six of them simultaneously.

    Throughout the flight test program, the Su-37 demonstrated its super maneuverability in the air, such as performing maneuvers such as a 360-degree somersault. Unfortunately, an Su-37 crashed in December 2002 due to a structural failure.

    Compared to the Su-27 generation, the Su-37 Terminator underwent major modifications to the cockpit layout. In addition to the heads-up display, the Su-37 has four Sextant Avionique multi-function color liquid crystal displays arranged in a “T” configuration. This system has better backlight protection than the Su-27M monochrome cathode ray tube display.

    With thrust-vectoring, the Su-37 Terminator is capable of displaying supermaneuverability, which allows pilots to develop new combat maneuvers and tactics, increasing its effectiveness in aerial combat. Among the new maneuvers is the Super Cobra, which is a variation of Pugachev's Cobra and demonstrated during the Farnborough Airshow in September 1996.

    The Super Cobra evolved into a culbit (a somersault), where the Su-37 performs a 360-degree turn with a very tight turning radius. According to test pilot Anatoly Kvochur, the thrust vector would give the aircraft a considerable advantage in close air combat. Nonetheless, critics question the practical merits of such a maneuver.

    The Su-37 Terminator was demonstrated at the 1997 Paris Air Show. Although it was only able to appear on the final day of the show, organizers recognized the Su-37 as the standout aircraft at the event. The aircraft then participated in the MAKS air show in Moscow, the International Defense Exhibition in Dubai, and the FIDAE air show in Santiago, Chile.

    With the end of the life of the engine, the aircraft then replaced the AL-37FU with a standard production AL-31F engine which had no moving nozzles.

    Sukhoi Su-37 Terminator – The Forgotten Fly By Wire Fighter Jet, Dimmed Before Production
    Sukhoi Su-37 Terminator

    The flight test program ended on December 19, 2002, when the horizontal tail section of the aircraft broke off during a high-g maneuver, causing an accident at Shatura, near Moscow. Structural failure caused by overloading during six years of testing. The pilot Yuri Vashuk was ejected safely in the incident.

    The Su-37 Terminator had entered into tenders for the procurement of fighter aircraft in Brazil and South Korea, but failed to get foreign customers. Officially, the Su-37 never entered production, despite reports in 1998 claiming that Sukhoi had built a second Su-37 using the twelfth Su-27M airframe, and the T10M-11 remains the only prototype to be built. made for the Su-37 Terminator..

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