MOSCOW: Aircraft designer Mikhail Simonov, whose supremely maneuverable, heavily armed and far-flying Sukhoi fighter jet became an icon of the Soviet defense industry and a cash cow for post-communist Russia, died in Moscow on Friday after a long illness.
He was 81, the Sukhoi company said. Developed to counter the US F-15 fighter, Simonov's sleek twin-engined , twin-finned Su-27 joined the Soviet air force in the early 1980s and won respect in the West for its range of over 3,500km, its impressive agility and its ability to fly at 2.35 times the speed of sound.
It was a star of international air shows, performing aerobatics that few other fighter planes could accomplish , and is matched only by the MiG jet and Kalashnikov assault rifle as a symbol of Russia's considerable prowess in weapons-making .
The Su-27 's excellent thrust-to-weight ratio and sophisticated control system allowed it to perform exceptional maneuvers at very low speeds. When state defense orders ground to a near halt after the 1991 Soviet collapse, Simonov played a key role in winning lucrative export deals. The cash-strapped government sold hundreds of fighters to China, India and other foreign customers under contracts worth billions of dollars.
Man who made Sukhoi the star of Soviet defence dies - The Times of India
R.I.P Mr. Simonov