Yak-43 was a project of a fighter capable of short takeoff and landing. This air unit was developed at the Yakovlev Design Bureau and is a land version of the VTOL Yak-141. Design began in 1980, but due to lack of funding in the 1990s, the project was frozen.
At the height of the development of the deck vertical Yak-41 in 1980, work began on the Yak-43. It was planned for use on land airfields. According to the plan, its run should not be more than 120 meters, and takeoff and landing should be shortened. This aircraft was quite different from the deck based version. The basis of the power plant was to be one NK-32 engine with a swivel nozzle and a maximum thrust of 25 000 kgf. Exactly the same is used on the Tu-160 strategic bomber.
According to the assignment, they planned to increase the range and radius of the aircraft application, which in turn would lead to an increase in the wing area and the amount of fuel. The design of the fuselage is absolutely new, it is represented by one whole with a wing. Since the aircraft should be used at long ranges, it was additionally planned to install elements of technologies to reduce the visibility of the device.
Compared to the Yak-141, the Yak-43 had a much larger capacity internal tanks and, therefore, an increased range of action. For most of the tasks, the armament should be placed in internal compartments with the possibility of external suspension on pylons in the case of heavier configurations. The machine should be very maneuverable (the wing is larger).
Yak-43 would be a multipurpose fighter with a vertical / shortened take-off of the second generation and an heir Yak-141. Diagrams show an aircraft similar in plan to the Lockheed Martin F-22 and in the profile on the Yak-141. The main engine would be a modification of NK-321 with a thrust of 24,980 kgf with Tu-160. A part of the air drawn from the compressor must be supplied to the auxiliary combustion chamber in the nose, which must create vertical thrust during low-speed flight when the lifting motors are switched on.
Although the project was very promising, but in connection with the collapse of the USSR and the difficult economic situation, the development of the Yak-43 was stopped in the early 1990s.
According to some sources, Yakovlev OKB continued to work on the Yak-43 and its development. Lockheed Martin was convinced of the possibilities of the Yakovlev Design Bureau in the field, because in June 1995, both firms signed a contract for the variant X-35.
Following the announcement by the CIS on September 1991 that it could no longer fund development of the Yak-41M, Yakovlev entered into discussions with several foreign partners who could help fund the program. Lockheed Corporation, which was in the process of developing the X-35 for the US Joint Strike Fighter program, stepped forward, and with their assistance 48-2 was displayed at the Farnborough Airshow in September 1992. Yakovlev announced that they had reached an agreement with Lockheed for funds of $385 to $400 million for three new prototypes and an additional static test aircraft to test improvements in design and avionics. The partnership began in late 1991, though it was not publicly revealed by Yakovlev until 6 September 1992, and was not revealed by Lockheed until June 1994.
Alexey Leonkov, military expert of the magazine "Arsenal of the Fatherland", claimed that at some point, the creativity of the American designers of Lockheed turned into a banal plagiarism. The source of the design of the airframe, skeleton and engine design for the F-35 was the working documentation of the Russian aircraft Yak-141 and its land version Yak-43. The engine is clear - it was officially made for Americans by Russian designers from the Yakovleva Design Bureau. Working drawings were made for all requirements. The layout drawings clearly showed the place of the engine in the structure of the airframe of the aircraft and determined its relationship with the hydraulic control system and the fuel system of the aircraft. The functional of the rotary nozzle was linked with the flight control system of the aircraft. The auxiliary lifting motor was located in the design of the airframe. Thus, Leonkov claimed the Americans received not only an engine, but also a design sample of the airframe and skeleton of the aircraft.
But the Pratt & Whitney 3BSD [three-bearing swivel duct nozzle] 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. The Yak-141 also used two RKBM RD-41 lift engines – an almost identical arrangement to the Convair Model 200 design. In a attempt to save time and money, Lockheed used the Yak as sort of a test-bed for development of several technical solutions. It seemed quicker and cheaper to do it on a “Yak” instead to wait for the first finished X-35 airframe.
The Yak-Lockmart partnership seemed to disappear into oblivion after an exciting and well publicized start. Many Russiasn believe the victorious X-35 design was due to Yakovlev OKB’s hard work almost as much as it was Lockheed Martin’s. But the F-35B isn’t even a remote copy of the Yak-43.
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