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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S.-Russian Teams Vie for Fighter Project

LONDON -- Russian and American aerospace companies have teamed up to design a multipurpose fighter for the 21st century, Jane's Defense Weekly reported.


The Moscow-based Yakovlev Design Bureau has joined the Lockheed Martin Co. of Bethesda, Maryland, in the project to build an advanced attack aircraft for the U.S. military, although the Russian government still needs to approve the transfer of technology, the magazine said Wednesday.


The Lockheed-Yakovlev team will compete against McDonnell Douglas Corp., which has joined forces with British Aerospace plc and other companies to design the fighter.


The goal is a multipurpose fighter suitable for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy and possibly Britain's Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, said Mark Daly, news editor of Jane's Defense Weekly.


"It would be a truly versatile airplane which could be flown from land bases and aircraft carriers, and it could hit targets on land and sea and intercept enemy fighter aircraft," he said.


"It's one of the most ambitious fighter programs of all time," Daly said. The Pentagon wants a prototype to fly by 2000 and the fighter to go into service between 2008 and 2010.


It would replace a host of U.S. Navy and Air Force planes including the F-14 Tomcat, AV-8 Harrier, F-117 Stealth fighter-bomber and the F-111, F-15E and F-16 attack aircraft.


Yakovlev will be offering Lockheed its expertise in building vertical- and short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, Jane's said.


Lockheed Martin's X-32 model for the competition, which was unveiled last month, proposes a similar propulsion system to Yakovlev's Yak-141 supersonic, radar-equipped fighter, it said.


Two prototype Yak-141s were built for the Russian government, but the program was canceled four years ago and the fighter failed to attract export customers, Jane's said.


"Half of the world's experience is with Yakovlev, and the Yak-141 is the only aircraft in the same class'' as the proposed new fighter, Micky Blackwell, president of Lockheed's aeronautical unit, was quoted as saying.


Jane's said McDonnell Douglas has comparable technology through its involvement with British Aerospace, which manufactures vertical- and short-takeoff Harrier jets.