The Sukhoi Su-93 - named «истребитель народный» [istrebitel' narodnyy], or 'People's Fighter' - is a Soviet-designed and produced aircraft in use primarily by the VVS, the Soviet Air Forces. As its pseudo-official nickname was intended to imply, the Su-93 was designed to be a cost-effective, versatile 'mass production' combat aircraft to take advantage of the USSR's massive advantage in raw industrial output. It is not, however, 'cheap' - but rather incorporates modern sixth- and seventh-generation fighter features onto an essentially fifth-generation airframe. It is the Soviet Union's most versatile platform - a departure from their general trend to field a wide array of specialized jets for various missions - and is generally regarded as the direct competitor to NATO's superior (but more expensive and more difficult to fly) Lockheed F-11 Black Widow II.
DesignEditThe basic fuselage / frame of the Su-93, as mentioned, is essentially 5th generation. As such, the Su-93 relies primarily on its shape, rather than - as on truly modern aircraft - various pieces of internal equipment and on the materials of its external 'skin', to reduce its sensor signature. However, like 5th gen. aircraft, it incorporates a number of advanced stealth materials as a further masking measure. These, however, are of a sort normally found on 6th or 7th generation fighters. In its overall shape / silhouette, the Su-93 resembles an enlarged Dassault Rafale (the primary French fighter of the early 21st Century), albiet with more of the fluid / blurred lines and the broad fuselage characteristic of Soviet aircraft. As it is a stealthed aircraft, many of its edges, planes and surfaces are more like those of the fifth generation F-22 Raptor. Also unlike the Rafale, all variants of the Su-93 are two-seaters - in a similar way to the MiG-85. Unlike the latter aircraft, however, - which is considerably more expensive - it cannot be flown with full capabilities by a single pilot, as the onboard computer systems do not have sufficient capacity to take on the additional responsibilities. The Su-93 uses the conventional form of the 'Cranked Arrow' Delta Wing, like the pair of Saab Draken fighters in the picture to the right [3rd down]. Also like the Rafale, it is a twin-engine aircraft with no horizontal stabilizers, but incorporates two smaller vertical stabilizers (fins) rather than a single large one as on the Rafale or the Drakens pictured - rather more akin to the F-22 above. The Su-93, like most delta-wing fighters, has forward all-moving canards (small horizontal stabilizers near the cockpit) - see the canards of the Rafale - which are somewhat upturned, to take over many of the roles of its missing horizontal stabilizers. This feature, in combination with its leading edge extensions and the lifting body principles incorporated into the design of its fuselage, much improves its handling characteristics at subsonic and supersonic velocities - albiet, at the cost of a slight degredation in stealth capabilities.
The gun armament of an Su-93 is a pair of recoil-buffered GshK-37-3 gas-operated, triple-barrel, Gatling-style 37mm rotary cannons. This reflects the modern Soviet trend of designing larger aircraft with a two - rather than one - gun armament. Western sources estimate the Su-93 to carry ~250 rounds of ammunition for each of the weapons, although this may be higher. It is worth noting, however, that 37mm is an unusually large calibre for an aircraft cannon, even taking modern recoil-reduction technology into account - most other USSR fighters use 23- or 30mm guns, while 25mm is generally the NATO standard. This design choice indicates two things: the 'omnirole' nature of the aircraft (it is an all-purpose fighter, and thus is theoretically capable of low-speed strafing maneuvers) as well as the Soviet acknowledgement of its general inferiority compared to its Western competitors. In other words, the powerful gun armament would allow the Su-93 to knock out a more maneuverable NATO F-11 (or equivalent) fighter with only a very brief window of opportunity. It is also a reflection of the fact that the Su-93 is, in its air-to-air role, primarily intended for defensive-oriented operations (protecting Soviet airspace and maintaining air superiority) - the heavy cannons would allow it to effectively engage large aircraft, á la the German bomber destroyers of World War II.
The Su-93's can store its primary armament - its ordnance - on a mixture of internal and external hardpoints. Like most Soviet aircraft, its internal bays use sliding, rather than hinged, doors that retract rearwards into the fuselage to reduce the impact of opening them on its stealth profile. It has internal provisions for 6-12 missiles, depending on the size and type, and 13 external hardpoints for various combinations of fuel tanks and ordnance. Depending on how these exterior mountings are loaded, they can interfere with the internal storage system, blocking it - and are generally not used when stealth is a priority.
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