What Happened to the Soviet Supersonic Jump Jets?

What Happened to the Soviet Supersonic Jump Jets?


When you think of vertical take of and landing
aircraft other than helicopters, probably the first ones that spring to mind is the
now-retired Harrier Jump jet and the much more recent Lockheed F-35B and this might
make you wonder why there haven’t been more of them around.
Well, what’s not very well known here in the west is that the Soviets also made VTOL aircraft,
they even made a supersonic version back in the 1980s, the only supersonic one in the
west is the current F-35B and that also has a surprising connection to that soviet jet,
so what happened the Soviet supersonic jump jets. This video is sponsored by Brilliant.org,
why not give the gift of learning this holiday season, see the end of this video for details.
Interest in VTOL aircraft that is Vertical Takeoff and Landing by all sides increased
after WW2. In the 1950s and particularly after the Korean war there was an attempt to reduce
the reliance on conventional long runways which were vulnerable to attack. Using Vertical
Takeoff and Landing would allow strike aircraft to use simple and quickly constructed launch
areas that could be much closer to the front line and be more difficult to find by the
enemy. If we ignore propeller based craft like helicopters
and things like the Convair XFY-1 and stick with jet power most of the early work was
done in the UK, US, France and Germany. In 1954 in the UK, the Rolls-Royce Thrust
Measuring Rig which was also known as the “Flying Bedstead” became the first untethered
jet-lift aircraft to fly anywhere in the world, the data gathered from this led to the development
of the RB108 engine which was specifically designed for vertical lift and five where
used in the Short SC-1, a research aircraft designed to test the transition from vertical
take-off to horizontal flight. In this, four engines provided the lift and swivelled fore
and aft whilst the fifth provided the forward thrust
In 1960 Alexander Yakovlev was at the Farnborough Airshow and saw the Short SC.1 in action and
on his return the USSR he decided to build his own test rig. A few years earlier in 1956
two professors, Matveev and Rafaelyants had built the “turbolet” a similar test rig
the Rolls Royce flying bedstead. Yakovlev enlisted their help and quickly obtained
funding to build a prototype, the YAK-V which would be similar to the Hawker P.1127 which
would later become the Hawker Harrier. But there was a problem in that the there
was no equivalent the to Hawker P.1127’s Rolls Royce Pegasus vectored thrust engine
in the Soviet Union and without funding from the government which was still dubious about
VTOL in general, they had to come up with a simpler solution.
This comprised of two engines mounted at the centre of gravity with a steerable nozzle
on each one that could rotate the thrust downwards. Compressed air from the engine compressors
would then be directed to the wingtips, the tail and a long protuberance on the nose to
provide stabilization when hovering. This new aircraft was called the YAK-36 and
after 6 years development in February 1966, aircraft no.38 performed a vertical take,
transition to high-speed flight and then a vertical landing.
Although the YAK-36 solved the basic problems of VTOL it was never intended to be an operational
aircraft but it did provide Yakovlev with the basis for the next model the YAK-36M which
would eventually be known as the YAK-38 and would be primarily used for the USSR’s first
aircraft carriers. Although this looked rather similar to the
British Hawker Harrier it operated in very a different way. In the Harrier, one engine
provided all the thrust for both vertical flight and horizontal flight via four rotating
nozzles in the fuselage and the main engine exhaust.
The Yak-36M took the ideas from the YAK-36 and changed from two main engines to one as
it would be overpowered with two and the range would be greatly reduced. Even though the
initial design was for a supersonic aircraft, because of the technical difficulties in achieving
this is was decided to limit it’s speed to Mach 0.95.
For the vertical lift, two smaller less powerful engines were placed vertically behind the
cockpit with a door covering them which opened when they were in operation.
One of the problems with having the three-engine design was that if any one engine failed during
the hover, the aircraft would immediately pitch up or down and give the pilot very little
time to react compared the Harrier, which if it lost its main engine, then all the thrust
would be lost at the same time and the aircraft would tend to fall flat giving the pilot more
time to eject. To protect the pilot an automatic ejection
system was fitted that would eject the pilot if it detected a sudden change in the aircraft’s
attitude but this also had a habit of accidentally triggering leading to the loss of the plane
when there wasn’t actually a problem. Test flights began in 1972 and by 1975 the
first one of three aircraft had been sent to the Kiev aircraft carrier and the other
two more to special flight units. During a ferry flight, the second aircraft crashed
on landing when one of the lift engines failed. In 1976 during the liftoff phase, another
Yak-36M accidentally ejected the pilot but continued to fly on automatic control in a
wide circle, half hovering and half flying for 18 minutes before it crashed into a farmyard.
When the aircraft was finally commissioned it was given the designation Yak-38. Over
200 were produced by the Soviet Union but one of the biggest differences between it
and the Harrier was the small payload, lack of radar and that is was also adversely affected
by high temperatures. During tests in 1976 in the Black Sea, it
was found that the hot weather reduced it efficiency so much that no weapons could be
carried even with very light fuel load. This greatly affected planes which were sent to
Afghanistan and effectively grounded them during the hot summer months. It also lacked
a high-performance radar which severely limited its usefulness as a fleet defence fighter.
But even before the YAK-38 the Soviet Navy had wanted a more capable VTOL aircraft and
again Yakovlev had seen it as an intermediate design to gain more experience and knowledge.
In 1975 the contract for a supersonic design with the radar, much greater weapons load
and manoeuvrability of the current front line fighters was given to Yakovlev. With is they
would achieve something the west had not done, a supersonic VTOL. There was a supersonic
version of the Harrier jump jet on the drawing board, the Hawker P.1154 but service in flighting,
government delays and political decisions within NATO meant it was cancelled in 1965
along with the TSR.2. During the late 1970s over 50 designs were
considered and Alexander Yakovlev assigned most of his OKB design team to the project.
One of the biggest challenges was how to make a vectored thrust engine that also had an
afterburner, this would be essential for supersonic performance.
Again a three-engine design was used similar to the YAK-38 and would be controlled with
an interlinked electronic control system that would handle startup, landing and hovering.
Because the main engine would only be used for part of the vertical thrust it could be
optimised for supercruise to use less fuel and increase its range.
The fuselage had a twin beam construction at the rear past the main engine nozzle, this
was to protect the complicated steerable nozzle and to pass cool air to the ends of the beams
where it could mask the hot exhaust gas and reduce the aircraft’s infrared signature.
Funding was obtained for four prototypes and in 1987 the first conventional flight was
performed and in 1990 the first vertical takeoff, transition to horizontal flight and vertical
landing. Shortly after in 1991 it set 12 world records
in the VTOL CTOL aircraft category. Because the designation of YAK-41 was classified,
a new one of YAK-141 was created for the use in the west.
However in September 1991 the now Russian Navy which was severely cash strapped after
the fall of the Soviet Union cancelled the YAK-41 project and retired the remaining YAK-38’s
in favour of conventional aircraft and this marked the end for VTOL aircraft in the Russian
services. Yakovlev had anticipated this and didn’t
make the tooling for production but instead looked for foreign partners for the continued
development of the project. This is where in 1992, Lockheed who were in
the process of designing the X-35, the prototype F-35, came to an agreement to buy three new
non-flyable YAK-141 prototypes for $400 Million, though the deal was not revealed by Lockheed
until 1994. Part of the design from the YAK’s can be
seen in the F-35B which uses a vectored main exhaust similar to the YAK-141 and a lifting
fan behind the cockpit with the opening door above it. However, in the F-35B its driven
by a single main engine like a Harrier via a drive shaft instead of the two vertical
lift engines of the YAK-141 and as such the F-35B could be said to be built on the advances
of both the Harrier and YAK aircraft whilst being brought into the 21st century with advanced
stealth, avionics and information gathering. Now just as the former adversaries and manufacturers
Yakovlev and Lockheed got together to share information, you can do a similar thing this
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100 Comments on "What Happened to the Soviet Supersonic Jump Jets?"


  1. The Apollo program from the NAZI…
    The F22 and F35 from the Russians…
    The Spirit bomber from the NAZI…
    Is there anything of importance done by Americans with no assistance from abroad?

    Reply

  2. Usually when this topic comes up an army of spineless dipshits log onto YouTube and argue that the Yak and F35 have nothing to do with each other

    Reply

  3. The military industrial complex is for profit and not for a certain nations gain, so why and when will they wake up to this fact.

    It's just all too convenient,

    Reply

  4. The F-35B lift fan helped solve another problem – VTOL designs with forward lift jets sometimes experienced thrust collapse on the ground and takeoff when hot air from the forward jets got into the main intake.

    Reply

  5. 10:12 Fun fact. British F-35 crews have affectionately named the lift fan door as "the toilet seat". No joke. It makes me proud to be a Brit 😀

    Reply

  6. Well, the soviets realized these planes are crap for everyday use. Meanwhile the US dumps billions into them.

    Reply

  7. That bit with the Rolls Royce Liftfan test looked familiar and might be from the Indianapolis facility, just a few miles from my house

    Reply

  8. Very good quality video. High resolution and soft non-iritating music. Well done vertical flight jet history.

    Reply

  9. I thought the thumbnail was a clickbaity fictional plane that looked like an f-35 knock-off.

    Turns out it isn't clickbait and the reason why it looked like an F-35 knock-off was because Lockheed based it off the Yak in the first place.

    I only knew that the Harrier contributed towards the F-35 but I was totally out of the blue about the other half so this was really cool.

    Reply

  10. FYI, Lockheed owns Convair Model 200 designs by purchasing General Dynamics’ tactical military aircraft division and has purchased Yak 41M’s flight data.

    Yak 141 vs F-35B according to Lockheed

    http://www.codeonemagazine.com/article.html?item_id=137

    A great deal of misinformation has appeared on the Internet regarding the relationship of the Soviet Yak-41 (later Yak-141), NATO reporting name Freestyle, to the X-35 and the rest of the JSF program. The Pratt & Whitney 3BSD nozzle design predates the Russian work. In fact the 3BSD was tested with a real engine almost twenty years before the first flight of the Yak.

    Yakovlev was looking for money to keep its VTOL program alive, not having received any orders for a production version of the Yak-141. Lockheed provided a small amount of funding in return for obtaining performance data and limited design data on the Yak-141. US government personnel were allowed to examine the aircraft. However, the 3BSN design was already in place on the X-35 before these visits .

    ——-

    Reply

  11. What happened to Russia's jump jet? Well…due to camera zoom improved so much that there's no way to hide the crane and it's wires anymore.

    Reply

  12. Watch Russia cobble together some Yak-141's using ducktape and spare parts for the SU-57 before selling them to Turkey (since they obviously won't but purchasing F-35B's any time soon).

    Reply

  13. A country that is 1/8 of the World and has 11 time zones, didn't need a jump jet! They made few and years latter sold the design of Yak41 to Lockheed Martin that made F35!

    Reply

  14. That's misinformation. I worked in defense, and Lockheed had already developed the swivel-nozzle prior to Yak. Lock-Mart purchased them because it allowed them a very affordable way to get significant amount of data points from a similar design on how the swivel affected the airframe and flight characteristics during various modes of flight. That's it. They wanted to make their own design a lot more reliable by purchasing essentially more data points. For 400 million, that was a bargain. The Yak design in no way, inspired the design of the Pratt-Whitney's swivel engine. The ILFPS was designed actually by Pratt-Whitney (starting in the 60's in fact 10 years prior to Yak), in conjunction with BAE, Northrop, LockMart, and Rolls-Royce; completely separately from Yak's design.

    Also, the top door wasn't implemented until much further along the development of the F-35, and has nothing to do with the door covers that protected the forward engines in the Yak.

    Reply

  15. Trust me, the Harrier, whether you're talking about the version the Brits flew or that which the USMC struggled with – it was a flying coffin. Just ask the pilots unfortunate enough to drive them.

    Reply

  16. Engineered obsolescence…They spend billions on the next increment of technology, just to capitalize on that increment, before its superseded by the next increment … Sorry to HAVE to say this but, I HAVE seen way better technology than what is present in the current stream of technology… FULL BLOWN, OPERATIONAL, HIGH TECH, that was functional more than 25yrs ago. SUPPRESSED TECHNOLOGY that could fly circles around the crap in this video… We the people are being milked… The successes and failures are all a sham. We are being projected a image for our amusement on every front. Because the sham is not limited to this or that particular thing, its across the board.

    Reply

  17. USMC still uses Harriers. And the joke about Marine Harrier drivers is… you can say any sh*t about them you want, because they can't hear you. 😂

    Reply

  18. Lockheed Martin saved a bundle on that deal. That was around the time Russian communism ran out of money. Now they call it Socialism, it works great untill they run out of other people's money. Look at California…………

    Reply

  19. It's probably just me ….but I think the F-35B looks like a dogs dinner of a design
    The Harrier is somehow 'right' – it's a shame the plug was pulled on the supersonic version.

    Reply

  20. Makes me wonder If the F35 has more than super cruise… does it have an after burner despite being able to super cruise without it?

    Reply

  21. Although not a jet, the V-22 Osprey, at first not wanted by the military, but kept alive by Congress, has found a home as a high speed medical evac transport. It's ability to land vertically to retrieve wounded and it's relatively fast horizontal flight has saved many wounded soldiers because it can get them to aid stations within the critical time to treat traumatic injuries.

    Reply

  22. I think the aircraft at the 1:12 mark isn't a VTOL aircraft, but one of the American supersonic prop driven aircraft of the 1950s.

    Reply

  23. If people set aside their ideology and share their experiences and information… together their can change the world and advanced their technology further….

    Reply

  24. There is no connection between the F35B and any Soviet aircraft other than a cursory similarity. I was involved in the very beginning of the design and development of what is now the F35B. I layed out the first lift fan drawing and designed the concept clutch. No Soviets were involved. This is nothing but arm-chair know-nothings spreading nonsense on the internet. For the record, Allison, where I worked, designed, built, and tested a vertical lift engine in the late 60s called the XJ-99 long before the Soviets.

    Reply

  25. "There is nothing new under the sun…" F-35 = 1 Russian side project + 1 British perfected jet + current tech.

    Reply

  26. What truly mystifys menis that Lockheed assisted the Soviets with their project? Given the cold war was still in full swing, how could this collaboration have existed?

    Reply

  27. What happened to soviet jump jets ? Maybe it's the good ole', too many hands in the till so the project runs out of money. It's amazing how $100 only buys $80 worth of materials. Then when it gets delivered only $50 worth arrives. Then while in storage, the next time it's inventoried only $30 worth is counted. By the time the parts get on the plane only $10 remains.

    Reply

  28. Factual error: during March 04, 1976 autoejection incedent with colonel Homyakov the bloody thing did not crash! It landed unscathed in the field when got tired of flying.
    P.S. They say the pilot was very cross.

    Reply

  29. now retired Harrier? No.. the AV-8B Harrier II is still in use Droid, and will be at least until 2025.. the UK may have retired it's harriers but the USMC hasn't.

    Reply

  30. Vectoring nozzle patent application was already filed by Boeing back in 1963.
    It did not originate from the Yak-141.
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US3260049
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US4679732
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US7770379

    Reply

  31. Even the swedish Gripen had an accident a few years ago, where the ejection seat worked accidentally, during a sharp turn onto a firing range. However, on the youtube, you can find two footages, where a Yak-38 demonstraded the auto-ejection system in live. One is during the airshow from 1992 and one is about a carrier operation and underwater(!) condition, after a takeoff failure. Both of them are very dramatic.

    Reply

  32. I often wondered where Lockheed got the idea for their vertical-lift system. Your informative video provided the answer. Thanks.

    Reply

  33. One more instance where Russian assets helped in the development of American aircraft. The other being the (unwitting) sale of Russian titanium for the construction of the SR-71.

    Reply

  34. In many things, The Chinese copy the Americans, In aircraft the Americans copied the Russians, The Russians originally invented the idea. In rocket science, The American copied the Germans

    Reply

  35. I'm surprised no one is mentioning the USN 50s concept aircraft. It worked very similar to the present F-35B, and the Yak-141. I dont remember exactly, but I think it was a Curtis design. Contrary to popular belief the idea that propeles the 35B, and 141 is a fairly old idea, not a very recent one.

    Correction: The aircraft I am thinking of is the Convair Model 200.

    Reply

  36. Oh, sweet solace! In the United States, we are suffering such discord and strife over a manifestly stupid man. The ambient music coupled with your informative, articulate narration is most appreciated. Who isn't fascinated by VTOL aircraft?

    Reply

  37. Do you know why the Soviets started putting those short solid fences between the forecastle and flight deck on the old Kiev class carriers in the early 1980's? I'll give you a hint it had to do with the old YAK-38 VTOL Forgers trying to perform rolling takeoffs. The 1st pilots that attempted the rolling take off got a bigger surprise than an auto-ejection!!!

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  38. I didn't know about Yak selling away its tech to Lockheed, I wonder what the Russian government did when they learnt it? I assume Yakovlev would go to a Siberian camp, that's treason after all.

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  39. When it came to military technology, the Soviets were so far ahead of the West in many areas. Even now, after suffering through the Yeltsin years, Russia continues to maintain that lead, despite spending a fraction of what the US does!

    Reply

  40. Very informative until the end when Holiday was replaced for Christmas. It’s starting to annoy me that anything associated with Christianity is being removed due to causing offence to someone.

    Reply

  41. Ah the "Jump Jet"… can anyone speak of the Harrier without using that phrase FCS? It is like Mars, the Red Planet…
    Hope the JSF does not borrow this lazy hack journo terminology.

    Reply

  42. The "FORGER" makes sense when one thinks it was only designed to attack the "Over The Horizon" mid-course adjusting aircraft for USN missiles & such like e.g. ASW choppers – after all, in the mid-70'd the AVMF + Red Banner Fleet Air Arm was SAM protected and/or not a true blue-water Navy (for surface operations anyway).
    Mind you, it was still pretty rubbish.

    Reply

  43. Did not expect the F35B to be partially built using soviet technology. The thought of that must make Putin's eye twitch :))

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  44. A couple extra points that have been brought up in the comments are the YAK-41/F-35B connection and that the harrier has nothing to do with the F-35B design. The first one is that Lockheed bought the tech from YAK. Well, the rotating nozzle (three-bearing swivel duct or 3BSD) was designed in the US in the 1960s by Pratt & Whitney for the Convair Model 200 but the project was not continued. The Soviet version appears to be a very similar setup and they were the first to fly this type of rotating nozzle but Lockhead had resurrected the 1960 US design for the F-35B before the YAK intervention. Lockheed wanted the flight information so see how they worked in an operational aircraft and Yakovlev needed the cash in the newly market driven Russia after the Russian Navy cancelled the contract.
    As for the Harrier, this is my take on it in that the Harrier proved you could run the whole VTOL setup with a single-engine were as all the other setups had used multiple engines which tended to burn up the runways and landing areas with the hot exhaust. The F-35B uses an engine-driven cold air fan for half of the lift which greatly reduces this effect thought it can still burn the runway at the other end of the plane if it hovers low down for too long.

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  45. The P1154 cancellation led directly to the development of the Harrier as a lot of the research and equipment intended for the 54 was used in the Kestrel/Harrier program.

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  46. What happened?
    The project was silently "taken over" by Lockheed Martin in the 90's and was offered as the F-35 B some 15 years later.
    Now it is one of the main arguments for sanctions if some countries develop deeper relations with the original developer, Russia!
    … cough, Turkey, cough …

    Reply

  47. There's a reason the Harrier has been in service so long: it works!

    The lift-fan idea used by the F-35B is a good trade-off between complexity and efficiency: you aren't carrying around "dead" vertical lift engines in level-flight (like the Yaks), just the fan & gearbox.

    IIRC the Pegasus needed water injection to cool it during the hover, so VTOL endurance was limited, but it's a really clever piece of engineering that's proven itself over a long career.

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  48. Couple of points –

    The Harrier is still in service. It's the Brits who retired theirs on cost grounds.

    A Harrier accidentally ejected its pilot too – on a test flight out of Boscombe Down in the 1980s. Sadly, the pilot died.

    Reply

  49. Curious Droid All of the aircraft mentioned here are V/STOL (vertical/short takeoff & landing) not VTOL (vertical takeoff & landing.) Non of the aircraft mentioned can take off vertically fully armed & fuelled, although they can take off (& land) over a shorter distance than conventional fixed wing aircraft. All though all can land vertically with a light fuel/munitions load if the option to land conventionally is available it is considered the safer option.

    Reply

  50. Always hurts to see perfectly fine Planes getting scrapped.
    The YAK141 was such a beautiful Plane, i hope they spared some for Museums.

    Reply

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