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1957 - Air Defense Heavy Interceptor

A requirement/ competition/ selection cycle was not the universal rule. Of the eleven aircraft types known to have been active in the APVO force in the early Cold War, only the MiG-9, MiG-15, and TU-128P seem to have been the product of a straight forward fly-off competition. In these cases, an engine allocation prejudiced two of the outcomes. The Tu-128's main competitor was Lavochkin La-250, although the timing of this competition is a bit obscure, with various requirements emerging at intervals over the period from 1955 to 1957. The 44-ton Tu-28 made its maiden flight in 1957, a year after the 30-ton Lavochkin La-250 Anaconda. Unlike the Tu-28, the La-250 did not feature an area-rule fuselage, and was abandoned in 1958 after a series of accidents.

To protect the world's largest state from the latest bombers of the probable enemy, interceptors of a completely new type were developed. Ground-based radar stations could detect and track the target at ranges up to several hundred kilometers. The range of anti-aircraft missiles was much smaller. This reduced the effectiveness of the complex. When using fighter-interceptors with missile armament of air-to-air class as a weapon of destruction, it was possible to destroy targets at a much greater distance from the protected objects.

The Soviet Union was initially able to provide a modern air defense only for core valuable areas. The PVO decided to cover the entire territory, but with a looser defense, and in 1955 established a requirement for a large area-defense interceptor, that would achieve it with a sparse network of airbases. The PVO requirement called for a supersonic aircraft with enormous fuel tanks for both a good patrol time and long range, a capable radar, and the most powerful air-to-air missiles possible.

As the air defense system was saturated with anti-aircraft missile systems, the leadership of the Soviet Union faced the task of combining them most effectively with fighter aircraft. Ground-based radar stations could detect and track the target at ranges up to several hundred kilometers. The range of anti-aircraft missiles was much smaller. This reduced the effectiveness of the complex. When using fighter-interceptors with missile armament of air-to-air class as a weapon of destruction, it was possible to destroy targets at a much greater distance from the protected objects.

For the military-political leadership of the USSR, the creation of a highly effective air defense system capable of shielding a gigantic country from any penetration by an "impenetrable umbrella" was one of the most important tasks throughout the post-war period. In the second half of the 1950s, potential adversaries of the Soviet Union were armed with aircraft and missile systems of a new generation capable of delivering nuclear strikes in virtually all important military and economic centers of the country and its allies in a short time.

In the fall of 1957, Khrushchev stated that “Mankind [is] at the threshold of a technological development when fighter and bomber planes [are] relegated to the museums and rockets, against which there is no defense, [take] their place.” That same year he said of manned bombers, “You might as well throw them into the fire.” Curtailment of bomber production left the aviation industry with surplus resources.

A competition for a mission seems to have taken place between missile and aircraft air defense weapons. The clearest statement of the conflict was that of Col. General Gastilovich writing in the first of the classified volumes of Military Thought: “. . . [F]ighter aviation within the system of anti-aircraft defense will become archaic in the near future. It is needed only until anti-aircraft missiles have achieved the necessary technical perfection.” [Gastilovich, A. I., “The Theory of Military Art Needs Review” Military Thought, Top Secret First Issue, 1960.] “As a matter of fact, the mother aircraft becomes the missile carrying aircraft and the commonly used term ‘bomber’ will obviously disappear with time from our military lexicon and be replaced with the term ‘missile-carrier.’” [Sinyakov, S. and Kozhernikov, M., “The Air Forces in the New Stage of Development of the New Soviet Armed Forces”. Military Thought, Top Secret Third Issue, 1960 (CSDB3/649, 109) p. 6.]

In 1957, the Air Defense Academy of the USSR formulated a technical assignment for a new interceptor armed with missiles with a very large range and high flight speed. At a distance of 1500 km from the base, the aircraft was to patrol for 3 hours. The air defense system was supposed to form a unit armed with such an interceptor, which would also include SAMs. The aircraft was intended, first of all, for the destruction of American B-52s at the lines located as far as possible from the industrial centers of the USSR. The interceptor with a long range of flight could close existing gaps in the air defense system, which were especially numerous in the northern regions of the USSR.

In 1957 the Air Force commander Marshal E. Ya. Savitsky came to OKB-156 to A.N. Tupolev and proposed to create an interceptor similar to the "98" aircraft, but equipped with air-to-air missiles and powerful on-board radio-technical means providing their use. In conversation with Savitsky, a number of questions were clarified, after which Tupolev instructed the head of the technical projects department, SM Yeager, to develop this idea in more detail. Therefore, even during the testing of the La-250, it drew attention to the potential possibility of using as a fighter-interceptor the Tupolev "98" front-line bomber.

In 1957, it became apparent that the round of new fighter designs included an area interceptor development effort also. As in the case of the YAK-25 it appears that a multiple application airframe was envisioned, a two-seat, extended-range interceptor or a reconnaissance aircraft. Tupolev’s OKB, normally associated with bombers, produced the TU-28P which employed the Lyulka engines.

In 1958 there was a decision of the USSR Council of Ministers on the creation of a new complex for intercepting B-52 strategic bombers on long-range lines. To accomplish this task, it was necessary to design a new carrier aircraft, a powerful airborne radar and an air-to-air missile weapon capable of destroying targets at a range of 20-40 km from the carrier.

The features of the interceptor of this class (dimensions and weight) significantly distinguished it from conventional fighters. It was not intended for air combat and had a single purpose - as an integral part of the complex to be a carrier and a missile control point. Therefore, the assignment for the design of the aircraft was given not to the fighter design bureau Mikoyan, Yakovlev and Sukhoi, but to OKB A.N. Tupolev, which had the most experience in creating heavy machines.

Meanwhile Yakovlev adapted the YAK-25 to improved Tumansky engines and provided a separate model, the YAK-27R (Mangrove), for the reconnaissance requirement. In 1958, the USSR adopted the Su-9-51 air interception system based on the Su-9 interceptor carrying four RS-2US guided missiles. The main shortcoming was a short range.

Fiddler entered service in 1962-63.




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