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Yakovlev Yak-44

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The profile of the Yakovlev Yak-44 AWACS aircraft used in the Russian and Indian navies.

The Yakovlev Yak-44 is a twin turboprop Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, resembling the United States Navy's E-2 Hawkeye, and intended for use with the Soviet Navy's Ulyanovsk-class supercarriers. Along with the aircraft carrier it would have flown from, the Yak-44 was cancelled after the demise of the Soviet Union. A full-scale mock-up with foldable wings was built. In the 2010s, Russia and India restarted development of the Yak-44 for their respective carrier air wings.

Early Development and Demise[edit]

the late 1970s, the Soviet Navy started adopted a plan to build large aircraft carriers capable of operating conventional aircraft rather than the VSTOL Yakovlev Yak-38s operated by the existing Kiev-class aircraft carriers. These new carriers would require a shipborne airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft to be effective, and the Yakovlev design bureau was instructed to develop such an aircraft in 1979. While the AEW would be the primary role for the aircraft, it was also planned to develop versions to serve in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and carrier on-board delivery (COD) roles.

The basic layout and size of the final Yak-44E design was similar to that of the Grumman E-2C which operated in the same role from American aircraft carriers, being a twin-engined high-winged monoplane with a rotodome above the aircraft's fuselage. The Yak-44 was designed to carry much more fuel, and was therefore far heavier. The engines were to be two Zaporozhye D-227 propfans rated at 14,000 ehp (10,290 kW), each driving contra-rotating propellers. The crew of five were to be accommodated in a pressurized fuselage, while the aircraft's rotodome, carrying a NPO Vega pulse-doppler radar could be retracted to reduce the aircraft's height when stowed below decks in the carrier's hangar. The aircraft's wings also folded upwards, while a twin tail was fitted.

The aircraft was stressed to allow catapult launching and arrested landings, but was also capable of operating from the ski-jump ramps of the Project 1143.5 carriers (later to become known as the Admiral Kuznetsov-class).

A detailed full-size mock-up was completed in 1991, and approved with minor changes by the Soviet Naval Aviation (A-VMF). The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in the program being delayed, with the catapult equipped Ulyanovsk being cancelled and scrapped, the second Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier, the Varyag was left incomplete with the Yak-44 program being abandoned by the Russian Navy in 1993.

Program Restart[edit]

to be continued at a later date...

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