Thrust vectoring technology, is close to becoming a deployable reality. Russia's Sukhoi design bureau is working on a pre-production model of its Su-35 derivative of the Su-27 Flanker, equipped with two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles, while in the USA several programmes are under way.

Exactly how capable the Su-35 thrust-vectoring system is remains to be seen, as does the extent to which it is fully integrated with the aircraft's flight control system.

In Europe, the four Eurofighter nations are also looking at the possibility of introducing thrust vectoring as part of a mid-life update for the Eurofighter EF2000. Germany had initially considered pushing for thrust vectoring, but the technology was not considered mature enough.

Following the successful Rockwell/ Daimler Benz Aerospace X-31 programme, the latter company is looking to draw upon this work for inclusion on the EF2000.

Pratt & Whitney's pitch/yaw balanced beam nozzle (PYBBN) will be flown fitted to a McDonnell Douglas F-15 in May as part of the advanced control technology for integrated vehicles (ACTIVE) programme.

While the Lockheed F-22 will be the first US Air Force combat aircraft to be deployed, with thrust vectoring, retrofitting some of the USAF's current inventory also remains a possibility.

Lockheed and General Electric, partners in the multi-axis thrust vectoring (MATV) project, see the potential for retrofitting. Their argument is that thrust vectoring will provide the aircraft with: "A lot more bang for the buck."

Source: Flight International