Eager to boost foreign aircraft sales, Russian companies have a strong presence at the current Paris air show. But the plane that was to have taken center stage in the Russian exhibit did not make it to Paris — evidently due to bureaucratic bungling in Moscow. The Sukhoi design bureau was to have exhibited its new multi-role, "super-agile" Su-37 fighter, but the show started on June 14 without it. Developed from the Su-27, the Su-37 has what are called thrust vector control engines that give it the capability to outmaneuver most other fighters and to perform acrobatic maneuvers at very slow speeds. The prototype first flew more than a year ago and last November was demonstrated at an air show in England. The Russians have called it the "fighter of the next century" and have predicted it could stay in service until 2020.
Sukhoi officials put part of the blame for the jet’s absence on the recent disestablishment of the Ministry of Defense Industry and the absorption of its functions by the Economics Ministry. In the ensuing turmoil, the new officials in charge of military aircraft construction failed to take care of all the formalities necessary to get the plane to Paris. Representatives of Sukhoi indicated that permission for the Su-37 to participate in the air show would need to come from President Boris Yeltsin himself, and even were he to agree, it would take at least two weeks to complete all the necessary paper work.
Even without the Su-37, there are plenty of Russian aircraft for prospective foreign buyers to examine. Six Russian companies have more than 20 military and civilian planes on display at what is recognized to be the most prestigious international aerospace show in the world. (Itar-Tass, June 14)
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