International Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS)
The International Aviation and Space Salon known as MAKS is a biennial event held every odd year since 1993 at the Zhukovsky International Airport (UUBW), 40 km southeast of Moscow, Russia. The week long trade show, similar to the events held at Farnborough or Le Bourget, provides Russian aerospace companies like Sukhoi, Mikoyan and JSC Rostvertol an opportunity to showcase their newest military and civilian products to an international audience.
Zhukovsky is a very interesting place to hold an aviation event, especially for an aviation enthusiast from the West. While technically an international airport, it is not very busy with passenger operations and instead most of the flying is accomplished by the Gromov Flight Research Institute for the government. Looking at satellite images using a program like Google Maps offers views of the north area of the base, where dozens and maybe hundreds of Sukhois, MiGs, Tupolevs, Ilyushins and Antonovs are in various conditions of development or decay. Incredible projects like the Tu-144, MiG 1.44, Su-47 and even the unfinished Buran 2.01 spacecraft can be seen through trees or between buildings and are periodically displayed during the MAKS show.
Prior to this event, I had very limited exposure to Russian military aviation. Highlights included a Ukrainian Tupolev Tu-22M3 at the Royal International Air Tattoo in 2000, a Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback at Farnborough a week later and a variety of MiG-29s through the years. I had always wanted to see Flankers, high-speed MiG interceptors and a Bear, although any of Russia's Long-Range bombers would suffice. A week spent at MAKS, both on and off-base, provided some incredible opportunities to see almost everything in the Russian Air Force inventory, the only absence being an Su-24 Fencer. As great as the demonstration teams, the helicopters and the new fifth-generation Su-57 Felons were, the ultimate display of the week was the performance by a pair of Su-30SM Flanker-H's as they threw their aircraft around the sky in a perfect combination of power and maneuverability.
For a more detailed review of this event please enjoy this wonderful article by Robert Kysela, founder & managing editor of Checksix - the military aviation online magazine.