Russia's Sukhoi Su-37
July 13, 2008: A bold, new combat aircraft designed by the legendary Sukhoi Design Bureau and now undergoing tests in Russia has taken aim at America's next-generation fighter, the F-22. The Russian challenge comes in the form of the single-seat Sukhoi S-37, the world’s first combat aircraft to successfully exploit forward-swept wing (FSW) technology. First word of the S-37 leaked to the West in 1997, and took Western defense analysts by surprise. Now, after more than 120 test flights at the secret Zhukovsky Flight Test Center near Moscow, it is clear that there is nothing like this bird flying anywhere in the world today. Its creator, the Sukhoi group, is considered to be Russia's premier combat aircraft producer. Sukhoi currently produces a family of topnotch operational fighters and fighter-bombers all based on the very agile and powerful Su-27 air superiority fighter. These include such models as the Su-33 aircraft carrier-based air defense fighter and the thrust-vectoring Su-37, a fighter and ground-attack aircraft. The general director of the Sukhoi Design Bureau and the Sukhoi Aviation Military-Industrial Complex, Mikhail Pogosyan, is proud of his company’s success. But looking to the future, he sees the need to build a fifth-generation fighter and to find an eventual replacement for the Su-27. "The S-37 program [has] a critical importance for the development of our company," he tells POPULAR MECHANICS. Named Berkut, which translates to mean Golden Eagle or Royal Eagle, the S-37 bears an "S" rather than an "Su" designation because it is an experimental rather than production aircraft. Design of the aircraft, originally known as the S-32, began around 1983, and drew on many years of FSW research that had commenced in the former Soviet Union during the 1940s—initially using captured Nazi technology. The Russians were also well aware of the Grumman X-29 FSW research aircraft, as two of these single-seat, single-engine planes were being tested in America between 1984 and the early 1990s (see "The Outer Limits").