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Sukhoi T4

Sukhoi T4

Sukhoi T4
Sukhoi T4

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.

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Westland Pterodactyl
Scaled Composites Proteus
Boeing X-48B

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