The Sukhoi T-4 was a soviet copycat aircraft which was
inspired by the American XB-70. The T-4 first flew on
22nd August, 1972 - 8 years after the XB-70 had taken
to the skies, proving that the technology theft had definitely
gone west to east.
Unfortunately for the Soviet Union, the Sukhoi T-4 was
nowhere near as fast as they'd originally hoped. The ambition,
and immensely expensive, program was designed to provide
and aircraft capable of achieving Mach 3 - nearly 2,000
mph. However in reality the Sukhoi T-4 - after just 10
flights - only managed a top speed of Mach 1.28.
The Sukhoi T-4 had an extremely aerodynamic shape and
highly swept wings. The nose of the aircraft could be
lowered at low speed to allow the pilot to see out the
front. When the nose was raised for normal flight, neither
the pilot or navigator had any forward vision - all they
had were small windows built into the roof mounted access
doors. Because of this, the pilot had to fly the aircraft
by relying solely on the instruments.
The Sukhoi T-4 featured extensive use of titanium to help
the aircraft cope with the high stresses and temperatures
it would endure. Additionally the T-4 used an advanced
(for the time) fly-by-wire system to control the aircraft.
There was a mechanical backup, but this was only used
once to test it. It worked.
The ultimate goal of the Sukhoi T-4 program had been to
assist in the development of a high-speed, long range
bomber aircraft. However the cost and initial disappointment
with the aircraft's performance meant that the program
was shelved, and the money was reallocated to the development
of more mainstream aircraft.
Similar and related vehicles:
Scaled Composites Proteus