Why do the engines noise from the Russian and Soviet jet create a squealing sound which is very distinct which most of the western jets don't have? Which part of the engine creates the noise, and why is it so distinct to Russian engines? Also it appears to be dominant in low rpm or at idle throttle setting.

You can hear this in the video MiG-29 start-up to shut down (4 min mark) .


1 Answer 1


I am by no means an aficionado of Russian fighter aircraft, but I suspect the sound you speak of is caused by intake airflow.

Since Soviet times, their aircraft have ascribed to a design doctrine of being able to fly from damaged or sub-standard airfield surfaces, and incorporate undercarriage & engine intake designs that assume constant presence of engine-killing FOD. They have either a meshed grating, or even an impervious retractable door flap that completely covers the intakes, while having additional doors open on top of the engine intake area to compensate, for ground operations.

At the 3.10 mark in the video, you hear what is probably the No1 engine spooling up, at about 3.35 you hear the No2 (closest to camera) starting to spool up - within a few seconds you will see a series of small doors above the red number "70" open. This is where the engines are drawing their intake air, away from ingestion of gravel, discarded hardware, small animals & the closely-milling, unconcerned ground crew.

I suspect that the restriction/turbulence caused by this slightly torturous air path is causing that high-pitched sound. It could also possibly be compressor bleed air being dumped as a normal part of low engine revs/idling.

At the 9.00 point in the video, you can see the flight intakes completely shut, with the ground intakes open, as it taxies in. Eventually, you even see a ground crewman appear to actually stand in front of the flight intakes while at least one engine is still running.

There is some discussion & a photo on this page

Would it be viable to install a screen in front of jet intakes to prevent them from sucking in birds?

This aspect of airframe design is a common subject of comparisons between US & Soviet/Russian design doctrine.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Whoa, that's some rugged design philosophy used by the russians. Thanks ! $\endgroup$ May 10, 2019 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ The main reason is because the air bases themselves were poorly maintained by western military standards and FOD was a fact of life. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    May 10, 2019 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ It's difficult to pave runways in remote places in Siberia due to logistic problems and because tarmac won't last long in the harsh weather and the ground is too soft for concrete. Since defence of the Russian far East required airbases in such places, being able to operate from unpaved (gravel) strips was a design requirement for most Soviet military aircraft. (Canada has such places too, but it can be more easily defended from more accessible places). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    May 11, 2019 at 20:54

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