Cobra can be done by MiG-29 and Su-27

Although there are fighter jets such as the Saab Draken who could also do Cobras, the maneuvre can only be fully flown by MiG-29 and Su-29 variants. The Cobra Manouvre, also known as Pugachev’s Cobra or Pugachev Cobra is a very spectacular, dramatic and demanding aerobatics maneuver in which an aircraft flown at a moderate speed suddenly raises its nose to the vertical position – and beyond – before dropping the nose back to horizontal flight. The aircraft reaches 90–120° angle of attack during the Cobra.

Pugachev Cobra

Pugachev Cobra

The Cobra manoeuvre is named after the Soviet test pilot Viktor Pugachyov, who first performed the Cobra maneuver publicly in 1989 at the Paris Le Bourget air show, and shocked the Western spectators who couldn’t believe it. The Soviet Untion still existed at this time. However, the Cobra was first executed by Sukhoi test-pilot Igor Volk in a test flight. The classic Cobra was done using only standard aerodynamic controls. Today it is easier to be done with Vector Thrust.

Pugachev’s Cobra at Dogfight and Airshow

The Cobra requires very potent engines to maintain approximately a constant altitude throughout the Cobra. It has some use in close range aerial combat or dogfight – so the hunted can become a hunter by getting behind the enemy aircraft. The Cobra can be useful when a fighter jet is being pursued closely by an opponent figher jet. By executing the Cobra maneuvre, a pursued fighter jet may suddenly slow down to the point where the enemy aircraft may overshoot it. The aircraft being now behind and pursuing and can theoretically fire its weapons. The disadvantage is that the aircraft doing the Cobra loses a lot of speed, which makes it vulnerable.

And it is a very impressive single demonstration flight aerobatics maneuvre to show pilot’s skills and the aircraft maneuvrability at airshows. If you have ever seen it for example at MAKS airshow in Zhukovsky near Moscow – and the reaction of the spectators – you know how popular it is. It is the perfect maneuvre to show the pilot’s skills and demonstrate an aircraft’s high angle of attack (AOA) stability, the pitch control authority as well as engine-versus-inlet compatibility.

MiG-29 Cobra maneuvre

MiG-29 Cobra maneuvre

Nowadays the Cobra can be achieved more easily with the so called „supermaneuverability“ thanks to thrust vectoring in 4.5 and 5th-generation fighter jets.