What if yak-141 fleet instead?

helmutkohl

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What if the Soviet Union opted to go all in with the Yak-141?
assuming the following
  • Yak-141 timeline was at least 5 years earlier. First flight in early 80s instead of 1987. Mid 80s is perhaps likely when it would have entered production
  • Due to state of the domestic situation, the Soviets decided against the Kuznetsov class, and instead continue to use existing Kiev class and build more Gorshkovs instead (so no MiG-29Ks and Su-33. the 141s would be a straight up replacement of the forgers)
Had this happened, my questions are
  • would such a fleet that had more Kiev ships carrying Yak-141s be more useful for the Soviet Union (and later the Russia?) than had going for the Kuznetsov?
  • Had the Yak-141 made production, how would it be exported? Would India have bought it? (would be interesting to see it operate along side Sea Harrier on the Hermes)
  • would it affect the F-35?
  • how would it affect Yak as a bureau? for some time it seemed like they didn't have many successful designs for a decade or two
 

CV12Hornet

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would such a fleet that had more Kiev ships carrying Yak-141s be more useful for the Soviet Union (and later the Russia?) than had going for the Kuznetsov?
Probably not. The Su-33, for all its weight limitations, is a much more capable machine than the Yak-141, and Kuznetsov a vastly superior aviation vessel while not being all that much more expensive to acquire and operate than a Kiev.

Had the Yak-141 made production, how would it be exported? Would India have bought it? (would be interesting to see it operate along side Sea Harrier on the Hermes)
On the one hand, the Yak-141 is a vastly superior air defense platform than the Harrier. On the other hand, the Harrier is the better maritime strike aircraft with the Sea Eagle missile and that's been a consistent concern of the Indian Navy, arguably more so than air defense.

That said, with the Soviet carrier situation the Yak-141 is liable to be the only game in town unless the Indians are willing to wait and pay for Rafales - and if the Indians still acquire and upgrade Gorshkov then the Rafale just plain doesn't fit on the elevators.

I don't see anyone else going for the plane, though; Western navies have the Harrier and then F-35B, while China... well, frankly I have no idea what their path forward is now.

would it affect the F-35?
Arguably it already did, given persistent rumors Lockheed consulted Yakovlev regarding the lift fan arrangement.

how would it affect Yak as a bureau? for some time it seemed like they didn't have many successful designs for a decade or two
The collapse of the Soviet Union punched every single Soviet aviation company in the balls, and Yakovlev will still remain light on sales, particularly in comparison to Sukhoi, the healthiest of the post-Soviet aviation companies. They're getting punched in the balls and merged with everyone else as OTL.
 

F-2

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During the early days of the JAST effort, Lockheed (accompanied by US government officials from the JAST program office) visited the Yakovlev Design Bureau along with several other suppliers of aviation equipment (notably also the Zvezda K-36 ejection seat) to examine the Yakovlev technologies and designs.

Yakovlev was looking for money to keep its VTOL program alive, not having received any orders for a production version of the Yak-141. Lockheed provided a small amount of funding in return for obtaining performance data and limited design data on the Yak-141. US government personnel were allowed to examine the aircraft. However, the 3BSN design was already in place on the X-35 before these visits.

I have an open FOIA with AFMC on something else that is past due but when it’s resolved I’d like to try and get this info.

Heres a crazy long shot for you. Imagine if something prevents the JSF from happening and the BAE/McDonald Douglas harrier gets replaced by the Yak/Lockheed Yak-41?

Yak might have two important advantages over the Su-33. The R-77 missile and I think the radar was to have been the N010. Of course the Su-33 has much more growth potential. It seems though a Mig-29k 9.31 would be more capable with similar avionics.
 

Bounce

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would such a fleet that had more Kiev ships carrying Yak-141s be more useful for the Soviet Union (and later the Russia?) than had going for the Kuznetsov?
Probably not. The Su-33, for all its weight limitations, is a much more capable machine than the Yak-141, and Kuznetsov a vastly superior aviation vessel while not being all that much more expensive to acquire and operate than a Kiev.

Had the Yak-141 made production, how would it be exported? Would India have bought it? (would be interesting to see it operate along side Sea Harrier on the Hermes)
On the one hand, the Yak-141 is a vastly superior air defense platform than the Harrier. On the other hand, the Harrier is the better maritime strike aircraft with the Sea Eagle missile and that's been a consistent concern of the Indian Navy, arguably more so than air defense.

That said, with the Soviet carrier situation the Yak-141 is liable to be the only game in town unless the Indians are willing to wait and pay for Rafales - and if the Indians still acquire and upgrade Gorshkov then the Rafale just plain doesn't fit on the elevators.

I don't see anyone else going for the plane, though; Western navies have the Harrier and then F-35B, while China... well, frankly I have no idea what their path forward is now.

would it affect the F-35?
Arguably it already did, given persistent rumors Lockheed consulted Yakovlev regarding the lift fan arrangement.

how would it affect Yak as a bureau? for some time it seemed like they didn't have many successful designs for a decade or two
The collapse of the Soviet Union punched every single Soviet aviation company in the balls, and Yakovlev will still remain light on sales, particularly in comparison to Sukhoi, the healthiest of the post-Soviet aviation companies. They're getting punched in the balls and merged with everyone else as OTL.

It would have had ZERO affect on the F-35, personal pet peeve of mine every time people bring up the F-35 and the Yak.

Fortunately someone more eloquent than me has written some good info.

 

tomo pauk

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Had this happened, my questions are
  • would such a fleet that had more Kiev ships carrying Yak-141s be more useful for the Soviet Union (and later the Russia?) than had going for the Kuznetsov?
  • Had the Yak-141 made production, how would it be exported? Would India have bought it? (would be interesting to see it operate along side Sea Harrier on the Hermes)
As it was, it took a long time for Kuznetsov to became an useful ship, the Soviet Union/Russia relying on the Yak-38s to provide some ariborne strike capability and a very basic air defense. An earlier working and available Yak-141 fits there very nice, especially if the Navy sweeps away the AShMs and whatnot from the ships so these carriers became true carriers.
India would've certainly bought it, since the Yak-141 provides BVR capability as-is, AShM capability, attack/bombing capability and probably guided-missile capability for air-to-ground work.

would it affect the F-35?

It would've give more credibility to the VTOL F-35 version.

how would it affect Yak as a bureau? for some time it seemed like they didn't have many successful designs for a decade or two

Who knows. The 1990s were tough for Russian aero companies.
Me, I'd try to make a CTOL lightweight & short Yak-141 by late 1980s, so Yak can have a commercially-viable product when 1900s came around. Not everyone wants to pay for a 3-engined fighter.
 

tomo pauk

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About the 'straingt-through' Kievs (ie. the flying deck is now between the prow and stern) - the Yak-141 now has a much better runway to do the short take-off, meaning the better payload and/or range.
 
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Hood

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It's hard to imagine a slightly earlier Yak-141 making much more of an impact.
It would certainly have replaced the Yak-38 on the four Kievs but the larger Riga/Ulyanovsk classes had long been planned since the 1970s. As it was there was already a choice between the Su-33 and MiG-29K and the Soviets pointedly chose the Su-33 for its superior air defence capability while the multi-role MiG-29K ended up in Indian service.
So that gives the Indians a MiG-29K/Yak-141 decision when they purchase Baku. Much would depend on cost and reliability I guess as well as capability and here the MiG-29K would probably still offer the better capability.

I thought Lockheed's interest was in the Yak-143 - which seems to be a very elusive project?
 

zen

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Going 'all in' on the Yak-141 is logically to roll it out as a Mig21 successor.
 

riggerrob

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What if an American domestic crisis (e.g. pandemic or stock market crash) sucks funding away from the F-35 program for an extended period? This delay allows the Yak 141 5o get ahead and if it enters serious production just before the Berlin Wall falls, then the Yak factory will be desperate to sell to any tin-pot dictator who can come up with the money .. less expensive than F-35. A basic Yak 141 would be less expensive than the avionics-laden F-35.
 
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Dilandu

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Yak-141 timeline was at least 5 years earlier. First flight in early 80s instead of 1987. Mid 80s is perhaps likely when it would have entered production
I doubt that it would be possible. Yak-141 project was initiated even before Yak-38 made its first flight. The only possibility it could be launched earlier is to start it parallel to Yak-38; which means, that it would be completely different machine, build without prior experience. And as practice demonstrated, attempts to create supersonic VTOL from scratch were basically doomed to fail.
 
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