The Yakovlev jump jets point to the difficulties inherent to operating VTOL combat jets. Despite their flexible deployment capabilities, they are intrinsically more complicated to build, maintain and fly, and are consequently more accident-prone. Airframes built to accommodate VTOL capabilities are not a match for conventional fighters in terms of speed, range and weapons load. After investing for two decades in four aircraft carriers and more than two hundred VTOL aircraft, the Russian Navy decided those compromises simply weren’t worth it.
Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.
Image: Yakovlev Yak-38 Forger. Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons/Aldo Bidini