Yakovlev Yak-28 (Brewer / Firebar) Twin-Seat Multirole Aircraft
The Yakovlev Yak-28 proved a useful multirole performer for the Soviet Union during the Cold War years, seeing service as a bomber, interceptor and specialist platform.
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Post-World War 2 swept-wing research - coupled with advanced in turbojet technology - allowed the Soviet Union to field many capable aircraft types during the Cold War decades. One, often overlooked, multi-role performer became the Yakovlev Yak-28 which began operational service as a high-speed, medium tactical bomber. The line eventually evolved to cover a wide variety of Soviet military aviation requirements including trainer, interceptor, fast reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare Aircraft (EWA) / Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) platforms. Due to the multiple guises presented, NATO provided three distinct codenames for each of the major variants - "Brewer" (A, B, and C marks for the tactical bomber forms), "Maestro" (for the two-seat trainer) and "Firebar" (interceptor form). The reconnaissance variants fell under the Brewer-D marker and EWA/ECM versions retained the original Brewer name as Brewer-E.
The Yakovlev concern began formal operations in 1934, just prior to World War 2, and produced several well-known military aircraft in its time including the wartime Yak-1, Yak-3, Yak-3 and Yak-9 piston-engined fighters. It also developed the Yak-38 "Forger" Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) fighter for the Soviet Navy.
First flight of a Yak-28 prototype - known under the model designation of "Yak-129") - occurred on Match 5th, 1958 and, upon passing the requisite trials, the aircraft was adopted into the inventory of the Soviet Air Force beginning in 1960. Eventual use spanned into general Soviet air defense branches and service in the post-Cold War/post-Soviet Empire service with a new emerging Russia, independent Ukraine and independent Turkmenistan. Production yielded 1,180 examples and initial delivered examples were the tactical bomber types, though in limited numbers and lacking any radar facilities.