What is the 'Cobra maneuver' that some fighters carry out and has never been carried out in combat due to its danger?

The Cobra maneuver It won't sound too familiar to those who aren't involved in the world of fighter jets or aerobatics, but many will have seen it on the movie screen without knowing what its name is. For example in Top Gun: Maverick the character played by Tom Cruise He carries it out in 3 moments of the film, a much more favorable environment than that of a real combat to dedicate himself to a movement as spectacular as it is dangerous for the pilot and the fighter who perform it.

It is also known as Pugachev cobrain reference to the Soviet pilot Viktor Pugachev who was the first to carry it out publicly at the 1989 Paris Air Show with a Sukhoi Su-27and with the more technical name of dynamic deceleration because of the way the plane loses speed during maneuver.

This aspect is what calls into question its effectiveness in a real combat environment, given that speed reduction increases the vulnerability of the pilot and the aircraft. It could have an application as an evasive maneuver in certain situations, causing the enemy fighter to overtake the one performing the Cobra maneuver, but this is left in a situation where he probably does not have enough power to carry out an effective counterattack. In any case, there is no evidence of its use in combat, but Yes, it has been carried out numerous times in air combat exhibitions and drills.

The maneuver consists of Raise the nose of the aircraft until it forms an angle of between 90 and 120°drastically reducing the speed in a few seconds, but without losing height or starting an ascentfollowed by a pitch forward back to the flight level from which you depart. If performed correctly, the airplane maintains an almost straight flight throughout the maneuver, without hardly changing the altitude. The plane does not turn or yaw in any direction. This greatly reduces the speed of the aircraft because the non-aerodynamic underside of the aircraft works against the airflow. The maneuver puts great stress on both the pilot and the fuselage..

The movement made by the fighter, raising the nose and showing the lower part of the fuselage, in a similar way to what a cobra does in an attack attitudeis what has determined its name.

The maneuver must start from fairly high subsonic speeds. The correct entry speed is necessary because, if done too slowly, the airplane may not complete the entry or return to level flight with sufficient speed, while entering at too high a speed would create negative G-forces so high that the pilot would lose consciousness or the fuselage would be damaged. A lot of thrust is also needed throughout the maneuver to avoid stalling.

Not all fighters can perform this type of maneuver, which also requires a highly skilled pilot. A fighter with a high thrust control abilityto maintain altitude and control the aircraft while moving, high aerodynamic controlwith extremely effective ailerons, rudders and elevators to allow quick and precise changes, and vector thrustthe ability to change the thrust direction of the engine, although this last aspect is not applicable in all cases.

Swedish Saab 35 Draken.Air Force Museum / Lars Ekelund.Wikipedia.

Some fighters capable of performing the Cobra maneuver are the Sukhoi Su-27 and variants like Su-30, Su-35 and Su-37, the Mikoyan MiG-29, F-22 Raptor and Eurofighter Typhoon, among others. He too Saab 35 Draken Swedish, which was the first plane with which it was carried out. The technique, then known as “kort parad” (short stop), was developed by pilots Bengt Olow and Ceylon Utterborn in the early 60s.