The Soviet TFX project

Started by MAD, March 08, 2009, 05:06:19 AM

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In 1961 the primary Soviet state of the art strike capability was provided in the form of the Yakovlev Yak-28 'Brewer' and to a lesser extent the new tactic strike / ground attack Sukhoi Su-7 'Fitter'.
Although both designed to the Soviet proven World War Two winning doctrine of simplicity and ease of manufacturing in mass, the Yak-28 was deemed to lack range, speed, and all-weather precision strike capability that the new Western strike aircraft being developed promised.
The Su-7 'Fitter' was a true Frontal Aviation tactical strike / ground attack platform, designed for direct support of ground formations in contact with the enemy.
Although a very strong design which allowed it to survive the riggers of battle, the down fall of this pure tactical strike / ground attack platform was its inherited design fault of either carrying useful offensive payload over a very short distance or a limited offensive payload over a more useful distance – but it could not do both!
The Su-7's design simplicity also suffered from its inability to attack blindly or in all- weather, due to its lack of effective avionics (or the space to carry it!).
At the time Soviet intelligence had emphasized the threat and capabilities of the likes of the American Republic F-105 Thunderchief, North American A3J-1 (A-5A) Vigilante and the British Blackburn Buccaneer to the VVS - A threat which was taken seriously.
Out of both paranoia and prestige, the Soviets initiated a directive to its Aviation Design Bureaus for the study and design proposal for an advanced medium strike / interdiction, all-weather Strike aircraft.
With emphases of the requirement being for a low-altitude strike aircraft. A key feature was the ability to cruise at supersonic speeds at low altitude for extended periods of time in order to traverse enemy air defenses.
This was to be done in the quickest of time frame, and carried out as a complete integrated weapons systems, as was becoming so fashionable in the West.

In 1963 after a very quick evaluation process, the Sukhoi Bureau (Design Bureau OKB-794) for their efforts are rewarded a directive to develop its design further into a full-scale mock-up under the designation of S-6.
The S-6's wing layout was not to unlike that of the British TSR.2 arrangement, with its fixed turned-down wingtips being favored by the aeronautics Bureau
The system itself became known under a code name of 'Puma'
It was also both recognized and appreciated that with this new and promising strike aircraft, was also the need for advanced stand-off weapons systems to complement this capability and missions envisaged.

The Soviet Air Force (VVS) commission reviewed the S-6 mockup and the systems and avionics, but further work on the project was suspended in connection with a lack of noticeable progress in the development of the 'Puma's' aiming and navigation system (ANS).

With continued fielding of the likes of the Thunderchief, Vigalante and Buccaneer increasing in ever growing numbers and the intelligence coming to light about technological gap was exasperated even further with the open publicity by the Western media regarding the American TFX and British TSR.2 programs, which promised to be even more advanced and capable than the Republic F-105 and Blackburn Buccaneer strike aircraft.
The VVS put more weight behind the urgent need for an advanced strike aircraft to counter these ever growing threats.
In 1964 the work to produce an attack aircraft at the Sukhoi Design Bureau was continued under a new code name, T-58M, to stand for a version of the Su-15 plane (factory code T-58). At this time the VVS adjusted their performance requirements (PR) for the plane to position it now as a low-altitude attack aircraft with a shortened takeoff and landing run (STOL), a major requirement of the military being the ability to sustain a long supersonic flight at a low altitude to penetrate hostile airspace.
It was also decided at this stage increase the cross dimension of the 'Orion' sighting station antenna in the nose section of the fuselage, it was also decided to introduce a cockpit layout, with the crew seated side by side.
The powerplant consisted of two R-27F-300 type turbojet thrusters with afterburning developed by the Design Bureau of S.K. Tumansky, and four RD36-35 type lift booster engines by the Design Bureau of P.A. Kolesov for STOL performance.
With detailed design completed at the end of 1966. Two prototypes were built concurrently: one for flight testing and the other for structural testing. The first flying prototype, T6-1, was completed in May 1967. On 29th June, it was brought to the FRI airfield and the very next day saw the design bureau's chief test pilot V.S. Ilyushin perform the first airfield run.
But again world events and recent combat experience were to change things again with the 'Puma' project 
With information coming in from their embattled comrades in Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRVN), which was coragously facing the dougniting military might of the United States war machine; the Soviet high command's concerns had been confirmed. With their technical inspection of downed USAF Republic F-105 Thunderchiefs strike fighters by the GRU and avionics and aerodynamics specilists, it was confirmed that the American's avionics, navagational and weapons delivery systems were leaps and bounds ahead of the Soviet Unions. This was compounded even more by the the likes of the
F-105 design that both carried and utilized these systems as a complete weapons package.
This fear and argument of quality vs quantaty within the Soviet's military and design bureaus, had been going on for some years.
Added to this important and useful intelligence coup, the realities of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War could not be ignored, at such an important stage of the S-6's development.
The 1967 'Six Day War' had clearly emphasized the importance of deep penetration strike interdiction, with a useful offensive payload.
To this the Soviet aircraft supplied to the Arab nations had failed to achieve effectively.
This was made clear when the likes of Egypt and Syria complained about the likes of their Su-7 'Fitter's' lack of ability to range deep into Israel or their endurance to stay over the battlefield where they were needed most.
The nature of this type of attritional warfare also brought home the importance to the VVS in destroy rear echelon units before they could be brought to front line battle.
This in the VVS doctrine was deemed critical in any future NATO vs. Warsaw Pact conflict.
The 'Six Day War' also brought home to the Soviet's that its so-called allies would be choosier in its demand for more capable combat aircraft to achieve their goals.
Soviet intelligence also reported some of the Arab allies considering the purchase of more French and British aircraft if the Soviets were unwilling to supply them with the capability they both needed and demanded to defeat the Israelis
Between November 1967 and January 1968 testing of the STOL capability of the S-6 prototype aircraft, confirmed the data obtained earlier in the course of testing the T-58VD. The improved takeoff and landing characteristics (TOLC) in no way compensated for the aeroplanes shortened range. This was due to the impaired fuel performance as a result of the weight and space of the lift engines. The other drawbacks of "lifters" included:
- hazardous impact of the exhaust gases on the plane's structural members and landing
- the impossibility of suspending external stores and ordnance from the bottom of the fuselage.
- the aeroplanes pronounced overbalancing in the forward-aft axis upon their activation.

With this STOL data performance and penalties concerns, also came the intellegance that the first production F-111s were delivered to operational U.S. 'Tactical Fighter Wing'.
This same intellagence also indicated the USAF's keeness to deploy their most advanced strike aircraft into real combat in Vietnam.

The faults of the concept lift-jet arrangement to achieve STOL obviously overshadowing its advantages, it was deemed necessary to look for alternative solutions to improve TOLC.
Starting mid-1967, the Design Bureau began to look into the option of engineering the T-6 with variable sweep wings.
Although this new variable-geometry technology had been proven in the form of the Su-7IG (later Su-17) and the MiG-23-11 'Flogger' to give advantages in airfield performance, aerodynamics over different flight regions.
Variable-geometry was also deemed to have its disadvantage in terms of design complication, weight, maintenance insensitive, and restrictive in weapons carrying capability.
After what was stated by Western intelligence and sources as heated deliberation, which the VVS not be very happy, it had been decreed, that like the American TFX program, the 'Puma' program would be developed in two variants.
They would both have the same fuselage; the same avionics and the same Saturn/Lyulka AL-21F-3A turbojet engines.
The difference would be:
'Puma-A' would be a fixed-wing configuration strike / interdiction / reconnaissance /
                 electronic warfare model designed with simplicity and ease of operation and
                 maintenance in mind.
                 This would be the 'base model' which will initially be produced to give the
                 VVS a credible advanced low-altitude, all-weather strike / interdiction
                 capability, until the more advanced VG-wing model is ready for service.
                The Puma-A variant will also be put into service by Warsaw
                Pact allies as well as export.
'Puma-B' would be a more capable (and more costly) variable-geometry wing model
                designed with the aspects of fighting a more demanding Western European

It was also at this time that it was decided that the want for STOL could be forgone in favour of better range, weight saving and better offensive weapons capability.
The four RD36-35 type lift booster engines were deleted from the design.
The space saved being used for avionic and more fuel.

In 1969 the first fixed wing Su-24 (Puma-A) 'Fencer-A' entered service with Frontal Aviation Regiments, replacing the obsolete Yak-28 Brewer.
In 1971 the 'Fencer-A' began to enter service in the Polish, Czech and East German Air Forces, which over night strikes fear into NATO, and stimulates large portions of NATO country's defence towards the development and acquisition of expensive air defence systems, including fighters, at the cost of strike aircraft.
In 1972 the Soviets secretly supply this powerful strike platform to Egypt and Syria in the form thirty (T-6-1) Su-24 'Fencer-A's' each, which contribute greatly to the Arab offensive of 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
They surprised the Israeli's domination of aerial warfare, by carry out preemptive air strikes on Israeli Air Force airfields, destroying in the vicinity of fifty McDonnell Douglas A-4 and Mirage III's on the ground.
The initial air field strikes are both a military shock and a powerful blow to Israel's moral.
This complacency by Israel goes a long way to enforce its neglect of ground-based air defence, while over relying on its airborne fighter-interceptor assets.
But Syria and Egypt's initial success is short lived, when the Su-24 'Fencer-A's and the airbases they operate from become one of the highest priority targets of the Israeli Air Force and Army special forces counter strikes, with forty of the Su-24 'Fencer-A's are systematically hunted down and destroyed.
Syria's war loses are made good by the Soviet Union after the 1973 war.
Israel makes it very clear that these strike aircraft are earmarked, and tracked as targets priority number one!
Egypt's war loses are made good, but are a scene of political controversy, when with the collapse of Egyptian/Soviet relations, the Egyptian's gave their MiG-23MS 'Flogger's' and Su-24 'Fencer-A's' to the United States and the People's Republic of China in exchange for military hardware.
These Egyptian 'Fencer-A's' are said to have contributed to the development of the  PRC's JH-7A/FBC-1 Flying Leopard design
In 1973, with the service entry of the 'Puma-B' Su-24 'Fencer-B' variable-geometry wing variant, the Soviet's had an aircraft to equal the American F-111.
Both fixed-wing and variable-geometry wing variant of the 'Fencer' would be developed still further, and they will see much combat in Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, the Iran/Iraq War, the Libya used its 'Fencer-A's' to attack, the Egyptian base Marsa Matruh and other targets near the border in 1977. The Russian's would use their Su-24 swing-wing 'Fencer-C's' to attack Chechnya, Georgia and Osseatia

Many thanks and respect to John (Maverick) for his time and efforts in his support to this 'Alternative History' back-story in the form of his fantastic T-6-1 profiles!



And a few more supporting T-6-1 profiles from John (Maverick)

Thanks again Mav



Fulcrums Forever!!!
Master Assembler


Glad to be of help Robert.




Great stuff :thumbsup: A nice simple tweak to real history and some very attractive profiles, especially the Warsaw Pact schemes.


Not so sure I see the need to duplicate the production runs by having VG and non-VG variants. The Soviets wouldn't do that. I think they would have gone for VG anyway as part of the general fad in the 1970s but a fixed wing version might have been cheaper and easier to build. Easier to maintain too.

Excellent profiles with a some very good E Bloc ones.

Why a P ASCC codename and not the usual B?