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22nd of August 1972

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

The Sukhoi T-4, a high-speed reconnaissance strategic bomber, made its first flight on this day in aviation history. The program was also known as the "Su-100" or "Project 100". The pilot was Vladimir Ilyushin (son of the aircraft designer Sergei Ilyushin) and

Nikolai Alfyorov was the navigator.

In 1963 Soviet government put out a request for a proposal to the Soviet aircraft designers for a Soviet version of the North American XB-70 Valkyrie.

Three design bureaus submitted their proposals, Yakolev, Tupolev and Sukhoi. The design proposal by Sukhoi was chosen and in June 1964 the order was given to build prototypes. Close to 600 patents and/or inventions are linked to this project.

XB-70 T-4 size comparison

Late in 1971, the first prototype, with the designation "101" was completed, with work continuing on the other prototypes. Design specifications stated that the aircraft would be capable of speeds up to Mach 3.0, carrying 9 tons of weapons. The T-4 was constructed of titanium and stainless steel, it featured a fly-by-wire system that had 4 independent channels, backed up by a mechanical system. The aircraft had a droop nose that provides the crew with forward visibility during take-off and landing. In-flight with the nose raised a periscope was deployed to provide forward vision. This periscope could only be used at speeds below ~325 knots (600 kph / 370 mph). It was powered by four Kolesov RD36-41 engines with afterburners, Good for 35.000 lbf of thrust each. Like many military aircraft, it was fitted with drogue parachutes to assist in slowing the aircraft down after landing.

T-4 "101" on display at the Central Air Force Museum in Monino near Moscow, Russia

The first flight was one of only ten flights made with the 1st prototype. Total flight time accumulated during these flights was 10 hours and 20 minutes. Although no definitive proof is available it is believed the maximum speed reached during the program was Mach 1.3 at an altitude of 39.000 ft (12.000 meters).

6 prototypes were planned, of which one only flew;

  • 101 - Only flying prototype. now on display in a museum in Moscow, Russia.

  • 102 - Built, never flew

  • 103 - construction started, not completed due to program cancellation

  • 104 - construction started, not completed due to program cancellation

  • 105 - not built

  • 106 - not built

on the 22nd of January 1974, the government ordered that the Sukhoi T-4 program was suspended. On the 19th of December 1975, the program was cancelled officially with all prototypes, except aircraft 101, being scrapped. Specifications for the Sukhoi T-4 General characteristics

  • Crew: 2

  • Length: 44 m (144 ft 4 in)

  • Wingspan: 22 m (72 ft 2 in)

  • Height: 11.2 m (36 ft 9 in)

  • Wing area: 295.7 m2 (3,183 sq ft)

  • Empty weight: 55,600 kg (122,577 lb)

  • Gross weight: 114,000 kg (251,327 lb)

  • Max takeoff weight: 135,000 kg (297,624 lb)

  • Powerplant: 4 × Kolesov RD-36-41 afterburning turbojet engines, 157 kN (35,000 lbf) with afterburner


  • Maximum speed: 3,200 km/h (2,000 mph, 1,700 kn)

  • Maximum speed: Mach 3

  • Cruise speed: 3,000 km/h (1,900 mph, 1,600 kn) / M2.8

  • Ferry range: 7,000 km (4,300 mi, 3,800 nmi)

  • Service ceiling: 20,000–24,000 m (66,000–79,000 ft)

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