Cobra maneuvers

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The cobra maneuver is a flight maneuver in which the aircraft is straightened up and braked sharply before it tips back into its normal flight position and accelerates. If the pitch angle exceeds 90 °, one speaks of a cobra maneuver , because the aircraft straightens up like a warning cobra .

The maneuver can only be flown by a few military jet aircraft.

This maneuver was demonstrated for the first time in public at the French air show in Le Bourget with a Sukhoi Su-27 in 1989 by Viktor Pugachev ( Soviet Union ). According to other sources, this is said to have been carried out for the first time in 1987 by the Soviet test pilot Igor Wolk .

The Pugachev Cobra

By straightening up, the aircraft presents its largest area in the direction of flight, which greatly increases air resistance and brakes the aircraft almost completely. The maneuver is divided into four phases:

  1. The aircraft comes to a stop at a pitch angle of 110 °;
  2. it sags vertically over the stern ;
  3. it tilts its nose back in the direction of flight;
  4. it again accelerates in level flight.

Flying the maneuver requires not only a high level of flying skills but also sophisticated aerodynamics of the aircraft in order to avoid uncontrollable flight conditions. In addition, powerful engines are required that can carry the aircraft while standing and withstand the sudden stall of the fresh air flow without a flame stall.

In order to carry out such an extreme flight position with stall , the automatic angle of attack limiter must be deactivated - if available.

The cobra maneuver can be flown with all Sukhoi fighter aircraft from the Su-27 and all MiGs from the MiG-29 and derivatives . Western aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon , Dassault Rafale , Lockheed Martin F-22 , Saab 35 Draken , Rockwell-MBB X-31 , General Dynamics F-16 MATV or the McDonnell Douglas F / A-18 can only perform limited maneuvers fly after. To do this, the software of western aircraft must be modified and the automatic angle of attack limiter deactivated, for example.

The Lithuanian aerobatic pilot Jurgis Kairys is currently the only one to show this maneuver on air shows on propeller aircraft.


The following aircraft are able to carry out the cobra maneuver at least to a limited extent:

Individual evidence

  1. Saab J35 Draken trainers doing the Swedish Cobra Maneuver. YouTube, August 26, 2007, accessed March 2, 2012 .
  2. F-16 MATV axisymmetric vectoring in the early 1990's. YouTube, March 5, 2007, accessed July 14, 2008 .
  3. ^ Farnborough Airshow 2004 Part 5 of 5. YouTube, April 8, 2008, accessed July 14, 2008 .
  4. Cobra flown by Jurgis Kairys on a Sukhoi-26