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All photos: Noam Eshel, defense-Update
The Russian Su-35S, making its international debut here at the Paris Airshow, stole the show with breathtaking aerobatic performance that would compete with the best stunt pilots flying aerobatic planes.
The Russian fighter, equipped with 3D thrust vectored nozzles, and a new integrated flight and propulsion system showed here some maneuvers that no other fighter can dare do. The famous ‘Cobra’ dynamic deceleration is now enhanced with low-airspeed turn, and flat spins, inverted and upright, under full control.
Why the Su-35S need these maneuvers, that would bleed airspeed dramatically to make the aircraft a ‘sitting duck’ in air combat? According to Bill Sweetman, Editor of Aviation Week DTE, the use of unpredictable flight paths could challenge guidance algorithms of any missile guidance system, and rapid nose pointing can permit a short range missile launch with greater kill probability. On the other hand, supporters of 5th generation stealth fighters would argue that the close-in dogfight belong to the past, and in modern and future wars, air combat engagements will be won from standoff positions, using network-centric battle planning by stealth fighters that attack without being detected.
Another new sight here was the Yakovlev Yak-130 from Irkut, Russia. This advanced trainer was selected to become the future trainer of the Russian Air Force, initial deliveries have already been made by Irkut. Its remote cousin M346 fom Alenia will also become the trainer of choice for the Italian, Israeli and Singapore air forces.
Alenia also displayed here the MC-27J transport fitted as a flying gunship. The aircraft is equipped with a weapons kit integrated by ATK including multispectral sensor suite, synthetic aperture radar and moving ground target indicator (SAR/GMTI), palletized precision launched from he rear ramp and side-firing 40mm automatic cannon.
Flying low and slow, these gunships would require effective protection against heat seeking man-portable anti-aircraft air defense missiles (MANPADS), such systems were on display by Selex ES and Elbit Systems.
In the unmanned systems domain, the Paris Airshow 2013 provided an insight to a number of promising systems, many of them from Israel, and the USA. The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) recently ordered by France was displayed here. Among the Israeli drones on display were two of the proven Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drones, the IAI Heron I, in service with the air forces of France and Germany, and the Hermes 900 from Elbit Systems, which, since it debut in 2009 has been selected by five international customers.
Another drone unveiled here was the ThunderB from BlueBird Aero Systems, carrying the multi-sensor payload S-STAMP, on mission up to 24 hours in endurance.
Among the Counter Insurgency (COIN) aircraft designed for Irregular warfare, several companies displayed aircraft, Embraer showing he Brazilian A-29 Super Tucano, Hawker Beechcraft showing the AT-6, and Archangel displaying the Air Tractor loaded with different types of air/ground weapons.