Yakolev Yak-28 / Yak-129
A light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft (NATO code name ‘Brewer’), and all weather fighter (NATO code name ‘Firebar’) and trainer (NATO code name ‘Maestro’). The Yakolev Yak-28P Firebar was a two-seater transonic all-weather twin-jet interceptor with a maximum speed of Mach 1.1 at 35,000 feet and a service ceiling of 55,000 feet.
Possessing no more than a configurational similarity to preceding twin-engined Yakolev combat aircraft, the Yak-129 multi-role aircraft was first flown on 5 March 1958 in tactical attack bomber form. Powered by two Tumansky R-11AF-300 turbojets each rated at 5750kg with afterburning and 3880kg maximum military power, the Yak-129 had a shoulder-mounted wing swept back 63 degrees inboard of the engine nacelles and 44 degrees outboard. Although of zero-track arrangement as on the Yak-25 and -27, the undercarriage of the Yak-129 consisted of long-base twin-wheel units sharing aircraft weight almost equally.
Assigned the service designation Yak-28 and first shown publicly during the 1961 Aviation Day Display in Moscow, the first series version of the aircraft was the Yak-28B with an RBR-3 radar bombing system. This was followed by the Yak-28I and -28L tactical attack aircraft, differing in avionic equipment, which were joined under test during 1960 by the Yak-28P dedicated all-weather interceptor fighter. This featured tandem cockpits for the two crew members and was intended for low- and medium-altitude operation with an Orel-D radar and one beam-riding and one radar-homing R-30 (K-8M) AAM. The Yak-28P entered IA-PVO service during the winter of 1961-62.
The Yak-28 series, comprising the Brewer bomber in addition to the Firebar intercepter, was substantially larger and more powerful than its pre-decessor. Area ruling was adopted for the fuselage and the wing, of increased area, carried 50 degrees of sweepback on the inboard leading edge. Firebar is powered by a pair of Tumansky R-11 turbojets, the power of which has progressively been uprated since the aircraft entered service. Late production versions are powered by variants rated at an estimated 4600 kg (10140 lb) of dry thrust each, or 6200 kg (13670 lb) with afterburning.
The major differences from the Brewer, which was developed in parallel, lay in the forward fuselage. A radome replaced Brewer's glazed nose, and the windscreen of the two-crew cockpit was, along with the forward undercarriage leg, mounted some 76.2 cm (2.5 ft) further forward in the intercepter version. The internal weapons bay fitted to Brewer was deleted from the intercepter, and Firebar's lengthened fuselage was later also adopted for the strike variant. A longer and more pointed radome was fitted to later production Firebars.
Firebar is fitted with an X-band Skip Spin search and fire-control radar operated by the rear crew member.
Standard armament comprises four AA-3 Anab air-to-air missiles, two of which use infrared guidance while the other pair employ semi-active radar homing. A Yak-28P has been displayed with one Anab and one AA-2 Atoll under each wing, but this is thought to have been only an experimental installation. Firebar had by 1978 been mainly replaced by the Flagon-E variant of the Sukhoi Su-15.
Progressive upgrading resulted in R-11AF-2-300 engines uprated to 3950kg and 6120kg with afterburning, and enclosed by forward-lengthened nacelles, a longer, sharply-pointed radome housing an upgraded radar and affording lower supersonic drag and reduced erosion, and an additional stores station beneath each wing permitting two short-range dogfight IR missiles to be carried. With all these changes incorporated the designation was changed to Yak-28PM. With further upgrading, the fighter was evaluated as the Yak-28PD, but this suffered high-speed aileron reversal during trials, and by the time that this problem had been overcome production of the Yak-28P was phasing out, terminating in 1967 with limited production of the Yak-28PP electronic warfare version. Production of the fighter totalled 437 aircraft.
Span: 12.5 m (41 ft)
Length: 22 m (72 ft 2.25 in)
Gross weight: 18500 kg (40785 lb)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.15
(all figures estimated)
Max take-off weight: 15700 kg / 34613 lb
Wingspan: 11.64 m / 38 ft 2 in
Length: 20.65 m / 68 ft 9 in
Max. speed: 1890 km/h / 1174 mph
Ceiling: 16000 m / 52500 ft
Range: 2630 km / 1634 miles