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Does the MiG-21 use anti surge shutters at high speed? What is the adverse effect on the airflow at such high speeds (despite using a conical spike ahead) which warrants the use of antisurge shutters?

Look just ahead of the wing root, below the two red triangles. The anti surge shutter is covered with a red coloured blanking secured with a yellow cord.

  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify what you mean: Is that the bleed valve ahead of the canopy? Maybe a picture or sketch would help - it is not clear to me for what detail on the MiG-21 the term can be applied correctly. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2016 at 8:38
  • $\begingroup$ Peter Kampf, look just next to the ejection seat, below the two red triangles. The anti surge shutter is covered with a red coloured blanking secured with a yellow cord. $\endgroup$
    – Adder
    Jan 24, 2016 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ Mig 21 drawing should anybody find it useful. Part in question appears to be #45 labelled as a 'suction relief door'. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2016 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ You should provide the source of your image. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Mar 5, 2016 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


Normally, such shutters are close to the intake and covered by simple spring-operated doors which open when the pressure in the intake duct drops below ambient pressure at low speed.

AV-8B air intake

AV-8B air intake (picture source). The upper two doors are open while the lower three are closed.

The ideal area of a jet intake varies with flight speed. At low speed, it needs to be large so the amount of air swallowed by the engine can be supplied without too much resistance. At high speed, a big intake captures and compresses more air than the engine needs, which increases drag. Especially fighter jets need an intake which is optimized for high speed flight, and in consequence much of the engine power is needed to suck in enough air during the take-off run. Adding doors which are sucked open in that condition will add another pathway for air to reach the engine, which in turn will help to avoid a compressor surge and improves thrust at low speed.

I have no detail knowledge of the MiG-21 intake, but it appears to me that the anti-surge doors are only open at low speed and high engine RPM. At high speed, the pressure in the intake duct is a lot higher than the ambient pressure and the doors are firmly closed.


From:Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions

In order to operate at supersonic speeds, the engine inlet has a movable nose cone that extends as the aircraft speeds up. This keeps the shock wave in front of the inlet.

The engine of the MIG-21 is protected against compressor surges(a reversal of air pressures causes air to move in a wrong direction)by the anti-surge shutters that open to restore normal airflow in the engine. Exhaust is routed through a controllable nozzle that opens or closes to maximize engine thrust and smoothness.


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