Air-to-Air Fighter Combat Application of Pugachev’s Cobra Maneuver: Busting the Western Myth

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By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com

March 19, 2011

DefenseReview (DR) recently came across a DefenseTech article titled J-20 vs. F-35, One Analyst’s Perspective. The following paragraph caught our attention:

It’s kind of fun to watch the world fixate on this one item (#7). Then again, I still enjoy air shows, too. Pugachev’s Cobra maneuver, for example. Drives the crowd wild. Relevance to modern combat? Zero.

The writer’s opinion about Pugachev’s Cobra maneuver is the conventional one, but, according to one of Defense Review’s professional contacts, it’s inaccurate. The accompanying image (on right) is a graphical demonstration brief of how the Cobra maneuver can be used to shoot down the opposition in a dogfight (air-to-air combat). Click on it to enlarge it and view it properly. You’ll see it graphically demonstrates the following sequence:

1) Russian fighter pilot identifies target fighter aircraft location and speed. 2) Pilot gets a radar lock on target aircraft using the helmet sight cursor. 3) On flight/fire control command, pilot begins Cobra maneuver while IRS&T (Infrared Search & Track) continues to track the target aircraft. 4) Pilot launches air-to-air missile “over the shoulder”. The missile “knows” the expected target aircraft track. 5) The pilot pitches his fighter aircraft down and continues on mission while the missile intercepts the target fighter aicraft.

The graphical brief was sent to us in August 2007 by a highly-accomplished and well-respected aeronautics designer/engineer who’s worked on major U.S. fighter aircraft and air-to-air missile programs, and also happens to be a professional contact of ours. Our contact received it from a contact of his (a highly-credible source) at TsAGI (Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute), Russia. Our contact is also highly credible.

If we receive permission to divulge the identities of our contact and his Russian contact, we’ll updated this article, accordingly.

Organization Contact Info:

Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI)
1 Zhukovsky Street, TsAGI
Zhukovsky, Moscow Region, 140180,
Russian Federation
Intl. Business Phone: +7 (495) 556-41-01
Press Phone: +7 (495) 556-40-38
Fax 1: +7 (495) 777-63-32
Fax 2: +7 (495) 556-43-37
Intl. Business Email: [email protected]
Press Email: [email protected]

© Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without receiving permission and providing proper credit and appropriate links.

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Air-to-Air Fighter Combat Application of Pugachev’s Cobra Maneuver: Busting the Western Myth by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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