Zhukovsky - a small town located 35 km southeast of Moscow - has been the center of Russian aviation throughout the last 50 years. The town is named for Nikolai Zhukovsky - the renowned scientist known as the father of Russian aviation. All of the key aviation research centers in Russia are located at Zhukovsky.
Zhukovsky has a large and unique airfield capable of testing every type of aircraft available in Russia. The airfield, also known as Ramenskoye, has three concrete runways, one of which is the longest in Europe. This particular runway is 120 meters wide, 5.4 km in length and has no weight limitations. It was on this runway that the carrier aircraft "Mriya" achieved a successful take-off and landing while "carrying" the Buran orbiter at a total weight of 600 metric tons. The airfield boasts an aerial flight test zone of 400 x 100 km.
The main industrial enterprises of the town are: the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, the Gromov Flight Research Institute, the Experimental Engineering Plant, the Scientific-research Institutes of Instrument Engineering and Aviation Equipment, as well as test sites of most prominent research-and-design bureaux. Besides, there are the Aviation college, Aviation and Physical-Technical institutes.The high intellectual potential of the town attracts attention of Russian and foreign investors.
The RAC "MiG" avails own advanced flight-experimental base which provides facilities for flight and design tests of up-to-date aircraft. The experimental facilities available on the territories of Mikhail Gromov Flight Research and Test Institute and Lukhovitsy Aircraft Production and Test Complex make possible to carry out full-scale flight certification tests of several flying vehicles at a time. During seasonal peaks of activities, the Flight Test Center can conduct every month hundreds of hours of flight tests and fully process the test results in real time. Nowadays, more than a dozen of jet aircraft undergo flight tests at these experimental bases.
The "MiG" test pilots school established under the directorship of "MiG" chief pilot Grigory Sedov in the 50-s and singled out as an independent trend in the field of flight research and test operations has a recognized image in Russia. The "MiG" test pilots have acquired high skill and practical experience for fulfilling the certification flight test programs of any flying vehicles - from civil aircraft to space reusable systems.
The Gromov Flight Research Institute (known by its Russian acronym "LII"), established in 1941, has made significant contributions to the improvement of combat aircraft performance as well as the development and testing of new and updated aircraft. Currently, LII is regarded as the premier test center for aviation engineering research in Russia.
The largest aviation events in Russia, International Aerospace Shows (MAKS), are held at the Gromov Flight Research Institute, the once-secret Zhukovsky Air Base. This is the world's largest flight research center. There is really no American equivalent to the FRI. It is as if Boeing, McDonnell Douglass, NASA, GE, Grumman and Cessna decided to concentrate their efforts in a single place. All flight research and test programs, all prototypes are tested at this amazing facility.
The Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI) is a major research and test complex involved in both basic and applied aerodynamic research. It is the world's largest aerospace center; it helped design and test every major Soviet fighter, airliner, and spacecraft. TsAGI has more than fifty aerodynamic test facilities, including a supersonic wind tunnel to test speeds up to Mach 1.7; a 24 meter subsonic wind tunnel; a 4,600 cubic meter thermal testing chamber that simultaneously checks temperature, pressure, and speed; and a 13.5 meter diameter, 30 meter long vacuum chamber for thermal strength testing.
The US intelligence community designated this facility as Ramenskoye, which is used in the intelligence designation of new aircraft such as "RAM-K", "RAM-J", etc. When the facility first opened the town of Ramenskoye was the nearest population center. A worker's construction camp, named Zhukovskiy, eventually grew into a larger town and became the nearest population center and official Russian name for the facility.
In 1971, the new Soviet supersonic bomber, designated the Backfire, was noted in aerial refueling from a tanker near the test center of Ramenskoye, just east of Moscow. The mission of the bomber, peripheral attack or intercontinental attack, became one of the most fiercely contested intelligence debates of the Cold War. The prototype Tu-160 BLACKJACK was observed by an American intelligence satellite at Ramenskoye on 25 November 1981.
In the mid-1980s, the latest prototypes of Soviet tactical aircraft were being tested at Ramenskoye Airfield. The Ram-K, a variable-geometry air superiority fighter believed to have been designed as the follow-on to the MiG-25, appeared to be a close approximation" of the Grumman F-14. In fact it was the fixed-wing aircraft deployed as the Su-27. The Ram-L, initially thought to be a Sukhoi analog to the McDonnell Douglas/Northrop F-18, eventually was deployed as the MiG-29. And the Ram-J or T-58 ground-attack aircraft, which resembled the Northrop A-9, was deployed as the Su-25 FROGFOOT.
This facility should not be confused with the Zhukovskiy Military Air Engineering Academy, which is located in Moscow on Leningrad Prospekt immediately across from Central Airfield. In addition to being an institution of higher learning, the Academy is also a scientific center for work in the areas of aviation technology, its technical exploitation, and combat utilization.
[Aviation Week - 14 Dec 81]