In 1967 the USSR Ministry of Defense «bethought» about the Strategic aviation again. Push for this was the decision of USA to develop and construct the AMSA project (Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft) the future B-1B
On January 10, 1969, Minister of Aviation Industry of USSR signed contract about building and development of a double - mode (swept wing) bomber - missile carrier. Three Design Bureaus: A.N. Tupolev, V.M.Myasishev, and P.O. Sukhoi participated in the contract. According to the same contract, Bureaus should also develop the weaponry and aboard equipment. Contract for the development of radio-electronical complex was signed by Ministry of Radio-electronical Industry on Mai 25, 1969.
After governmental contest contract was officially published, the Sukhoi Design Bureau started the development of a brand new Strategic double-mode aircraft the T-4MS (S - strategic) based on the experiences gained from the T-4 «Sotka». It was planned to install the same powerplants, aboard systems and equipment, use already known materials, typical constructional - technological solutions, as well as proven technological processes. Industrial nickname was chosen to be «200» because of its take off weight close to 200 t.
During the period of development, engineers tried several aerodynamical variants of the fuselage. At first, it was planned to create an aircraft by completely redesigning the T-4M. This attempt failed because of dramatic change in dimensions and weight which could not ensure needed payload and strategic capabilities.
Engineers were forced to look for newer ways and technologies that could fully satisfy the following main demands: getting maximum volume of containers along with reaching minimal air resistance, capability of carrying needed number of missiles and bombs, reaching maximum hardness of the wing and fuselage in order to fly near ground at an extreme speed, possibility of installation newer more advanced powerplants if invented, perspective upgrades is sense of installing new technological achievements as time moves on, develop and include stealth technologies in the construction of the T-4MS.
Working on the final integral modifications of T-4M, engineers of the Sukhoi Design Bureau concluded that the variant that will most satisfy the above demands would be the «airplane - flying wing».
This variant (code name 2B) was created in August 1970 by L. I. Bondarenko, approved by the unit manager O. S. Samoilovich, main designer N. S. Chernyakov and general designer-constructor P. O. Sukhoi. First testing programs proved that this configuration will ensure great aerodynamical stability at supersonic as well as the speeds below supersonic.
Absolutely fantastic aerodynamical quality was reached 17,5 at Mach 0.8 and 7.3 at Mach 3.0. With this new integral modification the problem of wing deformation was also solved. Smaller area of the wing along with the hard carrying fuselage ensured the capability of flying at an extreme speeds near the ground. Rotation devices could change angle of the wing from 30 to 72 degrees.
The whole year 1971, was spent «perfecting» the T-4MS project in terms of increasing the aerodynamical quality by changing shape of the wing and fuselage; increasing cruise speed by using critical profiles; investigating changes of the vertical stabilizer and powerplant work by changing angle of the wing; looking for more optimal configurations of the wing to reach more stability and controllability; decreasing fuel consumption by changing location of the powerplants etc.
However, it was later discovered that the aircraft can't be properly centered and is 5% unstable. Main Designer N.S. Chernyakov decided to modify construction of the aircraft. That is when the configurations with longer frontal section were developed. One of those configurations (#8) had a funny «needle - like nose», but at the end exactly this configuration with longer nose was finally approved by designers. Works were finished by the end of 1971. Stealth technologies were also included in the construction of the aircraft. Machine was to be fitted with 4 NK-101 powerplants capable of producing 20 000kg of thrust each.
In the autumn 1972, the Ministry of Science and Ministry of Technology reviewed the projects for a double-mode assault aircraft. Project «160» based on Tu-144 by Tupolev OKB, T-4MS by Sukhoi OKB, and M-20 by Myashishev OKB. The «160» project was rejected due to significant differences between governmental requirements and its actual capabilities. General of the USSR Air Force mentioned the following about the «160» project, - «You are practically offering to us a passenger airplane».
It was also discovered that aerodynamical qualities of the project «160» were falsification and didn't satisfy governmental demands.
The T-4MS attracted the Air Force experts the most. This aircraft could hardly be stopped even with the most sophisticated systems of 1990s.
The M-20 project by Myashishev OKB, was very attractive as well but still denied because the newly formed Myashishev Design Bureau didn't have enough industrial and technological power and had a lack of engineers for meting governmental deadlines.
At the end, the T-4MS project was admitted to be the best choice for the USSR Air Force. But to build the T-4MS, Sukhoi OKB would have to use Kazan Aviation Plant (KAP). It was hardly acceptable because this could cancel the development of the T-10 (Su-27), modernization of Su-17M and T-6 (Su-24). The T-4MS could cancel all these programs and there was no way USSR could go for it.
After deeply reviewing all the projects chief commander of the USSR Air Force P. S. Kutakhov said: «You know, let's make our decision. Yes, the T-4MS project is the best, and I admit that, but the Sukhoi OKB is already involved in development of the Su-27 which very and very important to us. So let's give the glory of victory to OKB Sukhoi but transfer all the materials and information to the Tupolev OKB so that it could run all the works..»
Tupolev OKB rejected all the documentation about the T-4MS and continued its works on the brand new «aluminum» bomber with swept wing which later resulted in creation of the Tu-160 «Blackjack». With similar payload and range at the speeds below supersonic, the Tu-160 was 35% heavier than T-4MS and had 2-3 times smaller range at supersonic speeds.
Works on the T-4MS project was stopped but the ideas and technologies taken from this aircraft were productively used in the aircrafts like Su-27, Mig-29, Tu-160 and other airplanes of the 21 century.
|Function||strategic reconnaissance bomber|
|Years of development||1973-74||1976-77|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Length, m||41,2 (41,7)||41,2|
|Overall height, m||8||8|
|Wing Span, m||min (72о)||14,4||14,4|
|Wing Area (30о), m2||97,5||97,5|
|Max take-off weight, kg||170000||170000|
|Engines||4 Turbojet RD-36-41||4 Turbofan NK-101|
|Thrust, kgf (kN)||16000||20000|
|Flight data (project)|
|Range with normal warload, km||speed 900 km/h||11000||14000|
|speed 3000 km/h||7500||9000|
|Max speed, km/h (M=)||at altitude||3200||3200|
|at ground level||1100||1100|
|Practical ceiling, m||24000||24000|
|Take-off run, m||1350||1100|
|Landing run, m||950||950|
References and Credits: