Russia's Sukhoi design bureau has announced that it is developing a new aerobatic aircraft. Designated Su-XX for the moment, it is expected to enter production at the end of 2003 and to be ready in time for the air sport Olympiad in 2005.

The new aerobat is being designed around the new Voronezh M9F engine. It will be broadly the same size as the current Su-31 but will incorporate "major aerodynamic changes". The airframe will make even more use of composites, which already account for 60% of the Su-31 airframe, and may feature a retractable undercarriage, a feature of the stillborn Su-31U. Although best known for its combat aircraft, Sukhoi has also built a formidable reputation for its lightweight aerobatic aircraft, which have dominated competitions since the first flight of the Su-26M in 1984. Designed to replace the Yak-50 series for use in training, the Su-26M combined light weight, powerful controls and impeccable handling with a powerful radial engine.

In 1991 Sukhoi flew a tandem two-seat trainer variant, the Su-29, and then introduced the Su-31, a new-generation single-seat Su-26 derivative, in 1992. This had a higher thrust-to-weight ratio and refined handling. Today's Su-31M is expected to dominate the second Worldwide Aerial Games in Spain on 23 June -1 July.

Source: Flight Daily News