Although International Aerospace Exhibition MAKS traditionally taking part during August, 13th MAKS was organized in period from 18 to 23 July 2017.
The main reason for this change is another big military exhibition Army 2017 which took part between 22 and 27 August this year in Patriot Expo Center in Kubinka. First Army exhibition was organized in 2015 and up today has a very ambitious future plans to become a biggest military exhibition in Russian Federation. The same means also possible cancellation of MAKS tradition on Flight Research Institute named after Mihail M. Gromov in Zhukovsky. In Russian public there are rumors that lobbyists from MoD (which are organizer of the Army exhibition) are much more political powerful of those one from Ministry of Industry and Trade under which MAKS exhibition is organized all this years. The same was a reason that people who are dealing with aviation collect a thousands of signatures of petition that MAKS stays in Zhukovsky in the future, which were officially handed over to the President Putin during MAKS 2017 opening ceremony. Although no doubt that Army exhibition may represent an excellent global enclosed military exhibition in Russian Federation, let’s hope that MAKS will stay in Zhukovsky. It is hard to expect so many aircraft presence with rich flying program and focused only aviation-related exhibition like MAKS in Zhukovsky, on some other place with a part of a general military exhibition.
During MAKS 2017 opening ceremony, significant statement about current facts of Russian aviation came from deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Oleg Bocharov. He said the current year would become a landmark for Russia’s aircraft construction. “We demonstrate our achievements pointedly, clearly, and unequivocally at the event. Flight tests of passenger liner MS-21, multipurpose helicopter Ka-62 and fighter MiG-35 had already been started. Factory test of Il-112V light military transport aircraft was scheduled for the end of the year”. On the show agenda of the airshow, Mr. Bocharov said that the helicopter Ka-62, undergoing intensive flight test in Arsenyev (Primorsk Territory), would not be exhibited at Zhukovsky. However, live broadcast of the flights that would allow to introduce the all-new product in a well-deserved manner had been planned. Moreover, Mr. Bocharov announced a series of newly-designed products in the area of agricultural aviation, general purpose aviation, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
MAKS 2017 logged more than 770 participants, among them approximately 140 participants represent other countries, 30 in total. More than 116 aircraft on the ground and 84 aircraft in the air were showed on MAKS 2017.
Among the aircraft performing at the show was the wide-body Airbus A350-900 which is conducting demonstration flights. The liner has a unique livery, symbolizing the widespread use of composite materials in its design and is equipped with a passenger cabin. The A350-900 represents a new generation of wide-body aircraft, which began commercial operation in January 2015. Now, 12 airlines have the A350-900 in their flying stock. The first company to order the A350-900 was Aeroflot - Russian Airlines. The total number of firm orders for aircraft of A350 family is 851.
While a few Russian carriers signed order agreements involving the Irkut MS-21 jetliner at Moscow’s MAKS 2017, first operable prototype did not make an appearance. The manufacturer said the new narrow-body had performed nine flights before the show opening, and that it would not ferry it to Ramenskoye airport in Zhukovsky near Moscow for the next phase of testing until it completes another 30 flights from the site of the manufacturing plant in Irkutsk. MS-21 is powered by the Russian-designed and made Aviadvigatel PD-14 turbofans. United Engine Company exhibited an experimental example of that engine at MAKS 2017, hanging it on one of the four engine pylons attached to an Il-76LL testbed.
New aircraft on MAKS 2017
On the static display of MAKS 2017 some of the aircraft appeared for the first time. Between rotorcraft, Russia’s proud Mi-8 based transport helicopters in last decade became a really very desirable solution for the both civil and military various applications. One of the lasts variants showed on MAKS 2017 is for sure military variant for the Arctic environment use Mi-8AMTSh-VA “Terminator”. Manufacturer of the type proudly announced that this variant has no counterpart in the world. “Terminator” successfully can stay parked outside on low temperature ice and snow conditions as well as ignite its engines in conditions of the air temperature of -60°C, without any problems with flow of fuel and oil. Helicopter is equipped with heat isolation and powerful heating device which also encloses heating of the food and water. Arctic conditions are very adverse where electromagnetic waves has lower energy and its transmission is very limited. So, radio-communication is very unstable and in combination with polar night and practically non-oriented field, arctic conditions is something what is no desirable for the aircraft and pilots. Mi-8AMTSh-VA successful cope with all this thanks to its new flight navigation equipment as well as radio-communication systems. “Terminator” may be equipped with armament for its successful combat roles.
New sub-variant of the Mi-171Sh utility helicopter reconfigured for special operations and designated Mi-171Sh-VN was unveiled on MAKS 2017 static display. This machine features combat effectiveness and survivability enhanced over the basic model. "The helicopter`s concept has been developed considering the combat experience including the one got in Syria," the CEO of Russian Helicopters Andrey Boginsky said. According to the official specifications, the Mi-171Sh-VN has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 13500 kg, a maximum payload of 4000 kg, a ferry range of 1065 km, a service ceiling of 6000 m, a maximum speed of 280 km/h and a cruise speed of 260 km/h. It has also received composite main rotor blades and an X-type tail rotor, which was recognized on the variant Mi-171A2. The last is the latest derivative of the long running Mi-8/17/171 (Mi-17) family that boasts a plethora of improvements for better operating efficiency and reliability as well as for enhanced performance. Mi-171A2 facelift is representative of the third generation of the Mi-17 family, incorporating more than 80 different design improvements while it is set to retain most if not all of the long-standing competitive advantages for which the family is known worldwide. The aircraft exhibited at MAKS 2017 is armed with eight Ataka guided missiles, two UPK-23-250 gun pods with GSh-23 twin-barrel automatic cannons, two S-8 rocket launchers, two OFAB-250 aerial bombs and two upper wing-fixed 12.7 mm Kord heavy machineguns. The helicopter can be also fitted with two more Kords in door mounts. A pinpoint mount for a 7.62 mm PKM medium machinegun is installed in the rear part. The helicopter’s protection has been reinforced with applique spall liner made of kevlar fabric and anti-blast seats for dismounts. Furthermore, helicopter has received two chin-mounted gyro-stabilized platforms for optoelectronic systems. The helicopter is equipped with a FLIR system, an infrared searchlight and a glass cockpit suitable for night vision googles. The Mi-171Sh-VN features pixel (digital) camouflage painting scheme that drastically reduces its visual signature.
Russian Air and Space Forces showed on static display Czech made multipurpose turboprop aircraft L-410 Turbolet. During Soviet Union period this aircraft became very popular on domestic airline routes with distance from 300 to 500 km, but also as a military utility aircraft. Today is most interesting fact that this aircraft is now producing in Russia in Ural Civil Aviation Plant. Originally manufactured in Czech company Let Kunovice which collapsed and saved by Ural’s mining and metallurgical company which several years ago became owner of the 49% part of the company. Under the Russian investor, Turbolet has a bright future because there are a huge needs for this class aircraft. Some newer sub-variants are actual and are produced in Ekaterinburg where Russians proudly telling - “Elka” is now our product.
Between the hangars, on the huge multimedia platform, newest representative of the 4++ generation fighter aircraft MiG-35 was exposed to the visitors. Aircraft was equipped with air-to-air armament dummies and electro-optical pod system. The newest of the Fulcrum family has a lot of both technical and tactical benefits in comparison with older MiG-29 variants. Better technical reliability of the systems, mainly its smokeless engines RD-33MK, as well as increased Time between Overhaul for the all aircraft in general and introduction of the Condition Based Maintenance, ensures significantly lower costs of maintenance. Sensor fusion level enclosed around Zhuk-AE AESA radar and passive OLS-35 system (on the presentation in Luhovicy, on static MiG-35 bort 702), together with capability of variety of both eastern and western modern weapons delivery capabilities, significant tactical capabilities are at least the same like on its western rivals. On MAKS 2017 MiG-35 flew only first day, but without of schedule of the flying program, 4th day of the airshow, on sunset Egyptian style painted MiG-35 (811) took-off probably for demonstration flight for the back-seat guest.
New basic trainer for Russian Air and Space Forces Jak-152 was exposed on the static display. This aircraft made its maiden flight on 29 September 2016 and will have a role of selective and basic flying skills learning and training. Jak-152 is a first step towards LIFT-category Jak-130. The last is very good positioned on the international markets due to its amazing cost-efficiency ratio. Low-mounted wings and low-pressure tires ensures to aircraft very short take-off/landing spot. Tandem-cockpit arrangement with trainee on the first seat, is equipped with Zvezda SKS-94M ejection seats.
Although was not exposed on the MAKS 2017, on previous MAKSes Ka-62 was presented as a promising and truly international success with Russian lead. The flying prototype lifted off from the airfield of Arsenyev-based Progress Company, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters holding, on May 25, more than a year after the first hovering test. According to Russian Helicopters, during the 15- minute flight the aircraft circled the airfield once, accelerating to 110 km/h. The prototype was being tested for handling and stability, commented Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky. The Ka-62’sflight test program was launched on April 28, 2016, when the helicopter made its first take-off. Before proceeding to horizontal flights, it performed multiple engine run-ups and hovering tests. The company is assembling two more flying prototypes, which will enter certification trials shortly. Ka-62 medium twin is the first Kamov’s non-coaxial rotor aircraft. It features a standard rotary-wing configuration with a single five-bladed main rotor and a shrouded tail rotor. The airframe incorporates a considerable share of composite materials for lower structural weight. The helicopter is powered by a pair of Safran Ardiden 3G turboshafts with 1776 HPs at takeoff. Another foreign component is the aircraft’s transmission developed by Austrian specialist Zoerkler.
Historic aircraft on the static display
Charity club Avia Legends was exposed together with Tu-144 supersonic passenger aircraft, which one example this club is targeting to make restoration and expose as a monument together with memorial center-museum in the science city of Zhukovsky. The same club is helping to maintain military fighter and training aircraft which were exposed on AMKS 2017: MiG 1.44, MiG-AT, MiG-21UM, MiG-27, Su-15, Su-22UM and Su-27SKM. “Our latest project ubder the coordination of Avia Legends is placing a monuments of the most significant aircraft designers from the Soviet Union/Russian Federation era”, says Mihail Agafonov, deputy of the chairman of the foundation board. The same event is on 22 September 2017 and monuments are going to be fixed placed in the center of Zhukovsky.
Flying display on every MAKS is a special parts of exhibition. This year T-50 became with new official name Su-57 and presented two-ship formation excellence of group flight as well as combat (dogfight) capabilities. According to the visitor of MAKS 2017, the best flying display was those of a pair of Su-30SMs which displayed a really dogfight as well as air to ground attack maneuvers that the same aircraft using in tactics in Syria. New small fast jet for the sports and military potential purposes CR-10 performs its first flight on MAKS ever. Its forward swept wings are not seen on Zhukovsky’s Flight Research Institute runway since Su-47 Berkut technology demonstrator aircraft. Russian Helicopters holding represents with the all current active civil and military helicopters in the air. Anyway, the best helicopter display belongs to the pair of Mi-171A2 and Mi-38. Very special event “Speed Festival” took place on both publica days on MAKS 2017. The same means race between light sport and MiG-29UB aircraft and sport fast cars. There was a formula with highest speed gradient that in the first part beat MiG-29UB, but supersonic fighter was a winner on the last part of the runway, just before a take-off rolling. There are seven aerobatic teams on MAKS 2017 that demonstrated capabilities of the both pilots and its aircraft: Russian Knights (for the first time flying on Su-30SM on MAKS), Strizhi, First Flight, Baltic Bees, Rus, Chelavia Team and Al Fursan. The last is from UAE and has a debut on MAKS 2017. “It is a great honor for us to perform at MAKS-2017 together with the Swifts and the Russian Knights, legendary Russian aerobatic teams”, said Colonel Nasser Al Obaidli. Al Fursan (The Knights) is the aerobatics demonstration team of the United Arab Emirates Air Force. The team, formed in 2010, flies seven Aermacchi MB-339 jet aircraft.
Text: Danijel Vuković
Photos: Danijel Vuković