Did you know Saab J35 Drakens could perform the "Cobra" maneuver?

The Sukhoi Su-27 became famous all around the world for doing an aerobatic maneuver, named after the Soviet test pilot Viktor Pugachev, who performed it publicly in 1989 at the Paris Le Bourget air show: the “Pugachev’s Cobra” (or simply “Cobra”).

In a Cobra, the plane suddenly raises the nose to the veritical position (or beyond) before dropping it back to the normal flight, maintaining more or less the same altitude through the entire maneuver.

Image credit: Wiki

The Cobra, that can be somehow useful during a dogfight to suddenly slow down the speed (more or less as Maverick does in Top Gun movie), is not only performed by the Su-27 and subsequent variants: even the Mig-29 and the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor are capable to perform such maneuver, with the latter highly facilitated by thrust vectoring engines.

Actually not only modern thrust vectoring or canard control surfaces give a plane the pitch control authority required to perform the Cobra. Indeed, quite surprisingly, even the Saab J35 Draken, a fighter plane manufactured in the ’50s (and retired from active service in 2005)  could be perform the Cobra as the following video (that has been around for a few years but was revived on FB lately) shows:

Most modern planes with thrust vectoring are capable to perform an even more effective and spectacular maneuver: the Kulbit.

About David Cenciotti 4470 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

1 Comment

  1. Actually. The russians learned the cobra by watching swedish fighters doing cobra manouvers over the baltic sea. Some of them tried to replicate it but that landed them in the water. It was not until several years later when they got a platform capable that they started showing it off.
    At ca 2.10-2.15 in the movie the Draken performs a cobra and a barrel roll in 1.5 seconds. It is completely unreal. Something modern fighters still cannot/have a hard time to match. Remember this is a fighter constructed in the 1950ies.

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