First, of all... Thanks for the overwhelming response to the first installment of "Fighter Jet Fight Club"! I set out to inspire some discussion, and I'm pretty happy with the result. Lots of intelligent, well argued debates. I may have not been able to answer all of you, but I do read all the comments.
One comment (it was actually responding to the post on the NFPS report) in particular got me thinking...
Commenter "Paul" stated:
"The F-18 is the only western fighter that can do the cobra".This caught me by surprise, as I was unaware that the F-18 could perform the vaunted maneuver of dubious tactical benefit. There is this video of a Super Hornet coming very close at the 0:50 and 2:25 mark...
Even if you consider those as Pugachev's Cobra (the Super Hornet doesn't quite go past a 90 degree angle), the Super Hornet is far from the only western fighter.
The F-22 makes it look easy, in fact:
Even Maverick could do it in his F-14:
This F-16 can do it... With a little help from thrust vectoring:
Then again, nobody does it like the Russians, here's the Flanker:
The PAK FA gets in on the action as well:
Of course, as impressive as the Pugachev's Cobra is at air shows, its value in actual combat seems dubious at best. While it may seem useful to flip the aircraft up to get a shot at a pursuer, this seems unnecessary when helmet mounted cueing and and high-off-boresight missiles are available. The Cobra also completely robs the aircraft of forward momentum, bringing it to a near standstill. In fighter combat; speed is life. Performing the Cobra would leave the aircraft a sitting duck.
At best, Pugachev's Cobra is a entertaining display of an aircraft's thrust-to-weight and high angle-of-attack performance. It is also not as new as you would think. Those Swedish hipsters were doing a the Cobra before it was cool.