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The Sukhoi Su-37 is a single-seat, all-weather, fighter and ground attack prototype aircraft, derived from the Su-27 'Flanker'. The Su-27 is a Russian fourth generation jet aircraft that has been exported to over 20 nations. The Su-37 test aircraft made its maiden flight in April 1996 from the Zhukovsky flight testing center near Moscow. The Su-37 is referred to as the Terminator.
The Su-37 includes several updates over the Su-27, including all-weather multi-mode passive electronically scanned array radar with synthetic aperture, terrain avoidance, terrain mapping and a rear facing radar. The airframe includes a percentage of parts made from composites, unlike the all-metal Su-27. Additionally, the Su-37 incorporates the AL-37FU engines equipped with thrust vectoring. The Su-37’s nozzles are variable in pitch only and travel plus or minus 15 degrees, but they can be operated differentially to provide a rolling moment.
In the cockpit the aircraft is the first Russian fighter aircraft with the Hands On Throttle and Stick, or HOTAS, system. The weapon system shares much with the Su-30"MK", but it lacks the large display in the back cockpit that is utilized by the weapons system officer. The cockpit features four multi-function cockpit displays instead of dial type analogue instruments and has an inclined (30 degree) pilot ejection seat. The two-grip flying control configuration was designed to prevent the pilot from flailing around when doing the manoeuvers associated with the vectored-thrust engines. Both the fixed throttle and the side-stick controller provide secure points for the pilot to brace his hands.
The Su-37 also stores a radar in the tailcone of the plane that allows it to fire missiles behind the plane.
The engine not only incorporates 2D TVC but also is tough and resistant to engine surge even during classic, inverted and flat spins, giving better reliability and maneuverability, such as when the AOA is as high as 180 degrees.
The Su-37 appeared at the 1996 Farnborough air show piloted by Sukhoi test pilot Eugeny Frolov. During the performance, the Su-37 was flipped on its back while flying at 350 km/h (217 mph) so that it faced the opposite direction, inverted and almost stationary. After pausing for two seconds the thrust vectoring was used to complete a 360 degree rotation and the aircraft moved off in its original direction of flight at only 60 km/h (37 mph).
The Su-37 can carry air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons on 12 stations. The number of missiles and bombs carried can be increased to 14 with the use of multi-payload racks.
Russia has not ordered Su-37s, but it might find customers abroad, a market that now constitutes a sizable share of Sukhoi’s income. Several prototypes have been built, but the aircraft is not in production.