The Russian military’s state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E multi-role fighters aren’t just turning heads and dropping jaws over the wastelands of Syria anymore. During a flight demonstration ahead of Russia’s annual Moscow Air Show, one of the country’s finest fighter jets pulls off a series of amazing aerobatic maneuvers that might make even the most experienced throttle jockey's guts turn.
Kyle Mizokami at Popular Mechanics has a great breakdown of some of the death-defying aerial stunts on display in this ridiculous video, most of which come with particularly alarming Soviet-era titles like Pugachev's Cobra (the nose of the Su-35 is pointed straight up before returning to a level flight path, as seen at 1:56) or the Frolov Chakra (at 3:25, the Su-35 enters a controlled spin through an aggressively tight turn, appearing to simply float through the blue skies above the expo). For Mizokami, the best move comes at 5:25, when the pilot backflips the plane into a twisting, turning dive.
Um, what?GIF via Task & Purpose
How can this fighter seemingly violate the laws of aerodynamics so casually? Probably because it has a reputation for freakish maneuverability that makes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter look like an Albatros D-III. The Flanker derivative makes use of three-dimensional thrust vectoring that’s standard on most Sukhoi-produced aircraft (including Russia’s brand new Su-30SM1 fighter) using a quadruplex, digital fly-by-wire control system that allows pilots to pull off astounding feats with precision and poise.
Don’t shit in your little panties just yet. As Tyler Rogoway at the War Zone points out, the aggressive super-maneuverability on display is less important when it comes to actually evading enemy missiles. In the decades since the aerial chases of Top Gun, NATO aircraft have developed “high-off boresight (HOBS) short-range air-to-air missiles and a helmet mounted sight for cueing those missiles towards aerial targets far off the aircraft's centerline,” writes Rogoway, effectively negating the impact of aerial gymnastics.
With the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a gaggle of B-52 Stratofortress bombers flexing their muscles in the Middle East, lawmakers are mounting yet another effort to repeal the post-9/11 legislation that could be used as a potential legal justification for a military conflict with Iran.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday voted along party lines to add an amendment to the annual defense budget that would roll back the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that, passed just days after the September 11th attacks, provided a legislative blank check for the U.S. military to pursue terror groups around the world.
In what appear to be his first public remarks on U.S. national security since his resignation as Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis offered a word of caution to President Donald Trump amid escalating tensions with Iran on Tuesday.
"The United States should buy time to keep peace and stability and allow diplomats to work diplomacy on how to keep peace for one more hour, one more day, one more week, a month or a year," Mattis said during remarks in the United Arab Emirates.
"Iran's behavior must change," Mattis added, "[but] the military must work to buy time for diplomats to work their magic."
To many, he was the homegrown face of terrorist treachery who left a comfortable Marin County life to train for jihad with Osama bin Laden and fight for America's foes in Afghanistan. To others, he was a wayward teenage spiritual seeker swept up in the Global War on Terror.
This week, a generation after 9/11, the "American Taliban" will be a free man.