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Russia announces test-flight of fifth generation fighter aircraft

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February 3, 2010

The Russian T-50 PAK-FA fighter jet prototype taking its maiden flight

The Russian T-50 PAK-FA fighter jet prototype taking its maiden flight

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Russia has reportedly successfully test-flown its first fifth generation fighter jet prototype. Formally known as the Prospective Aircraft Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK-FA), the craft made its 47 minute maiden voyage on 29th January. Manufactured by the Russian state owned Sukhoi Aircraft Corporation, the development of this tactical frontline stealth fighter jet is being seen as a significant milestone in the efforts of the country to modernize its post Soviet–era military technology.

Taking place at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur facility in Siberia, the demonstration of the Sukoi T-50 prototype was the first time since the break up of the Soviet Union that a fighter jet has been completely designed and built by Russian companies. While fourth–generation fighters typically feature multi–role capabilities, fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) incorporate stealth technology, supercruise, thrust–vectoring and integrated avionics.

As well as the stealth technology designed to eradicate a plane’s radar signature, the 5,500km-range T-50 PAK-FA features an advanced avionics suite, multi-spectral reconnaissance and surveillance systems and several automatic controls. The twin-engine unit is all weather capable, with the ability to take off on a strip around 400 meters in length as well as the capacity for sustained supersonic flight and repeated in-flight refueling. The new fighter jet is equipped with high-precision air-to-air, air-to-surface and air-to-ship missiles, with two 30mm canons enabling simultaneous attacks on air and ground targets.

India and Russia have agreed to co-develop the T-50 PAK-FA fighter and share the estimated US$8-10 billion development costs. Mikhail Pogosyan, Director of Sukhoi said of the project that he was “strongly convinced it would excel its Western rivals in cost-effectiveness and will not only allow strengthening of the defence power of the Russian and Indian air forces, but also gain a significant share of the world market".

The unveiling of the fifth generation fighter jet is being seen my many as a milestone for Russia in its bid to boost its ageing weaponry, with the country keen to demonstrate that they have the military technology available to rival that of the West. However some critics are stating the T-50 PAK-FA craft displayed is merely a “fourth generation jet fighter with fifth generation characteristics”.

Sukhoi has developed the aircraft to rival the American F-22 Raptor, currently the only other fifth generation jet fighter in operation in the world (another, the F-35 Lightning II is currently being developed primarily by the US and Britain). With units projected to cost upwards of US$140 million each to produce, Russia is hoping to begin serial production of the T-50 PAK-FA in 2015.

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9 Comments

Isn't it strange how Russian planes look like other countries planes, as in Concordski, and their Shuttle copy? This one looks like The F22.

It is amazing how in a world where everyone is struggling to survive, governments can waste vast amounts of money building incredibly expensive warplanes that are unlikely to see any combat action. I don't think the Taliban would be able to afford one of these planes, and come to think of it, they don't seem to need them anyway.

windykites1
5th February, 2010 @ 10:18 am PST

Thats not truth see the other planes, Also see new military airbus 400 which very resembles 20 years old Russian Antonov planes. The F-35 airlift system is copied off from MIG..

Facebook User
6th February, 2010 @ 03:55 pm PST

I'm not convinced this is a true 5th generation fighter, as opposed to a 4th generation fighter we are made to believe is 5th generation. Things like the it's true radar crossection are hard to tell from photos. Does this thing supercruise? Are those really thrust vectoring nozzles on the tail of this thing? Doesn't the engine layout look strikingly similar to an Su-27?

Dan Howell
7th February, 2010 @ 11:29 am PST

Yes, it has a stealthy design, sort of a mix between the F-22 and YF-23.

No, the engines are not the same as the Su-27, they are not even Saturn S117 used on the new Su-35BM but a newer version.

It IS a true 5th generation fighter, but probably not as stealthy as it's American counterpart as it was not designed to be, some design characteristics don't do well with stealthyness. And supercruise ain't extremely hard to make, British fighter from the 50s could do it, Swedish Gripens can too eventho they use one single engine.

Don't underestimate it, but saying it's a "raptor killer", as some put it, is wrong as well.

Hélio Rodrigues
7th February, 2010 @ 05:39 pm PST

@windykites1:

Heh, I was actually thinking the same thing. I was going to make a comment about Sukoi copying Lockheed designs (or stealing them). This looks very F-22 or F-35 to me, though admittedly I don't study these planes enough to really make any sort of real comparison. I'm used to Russian MIG designs.

Stradric
7th February, 2010 @ 06:05 pm PST

The PAK-FA only resembles the F-22 from above, from nearly any other angle it resembles either the YF-23, Su-27 or F/A-18E.

It's still extremely innovative though, moving LERXs, all-moving rudders, etc.

It'll be fairly competent, it will carry a payload larger than the F-22's & possibly be faster (blended fuselage).

Obviously it's main strength will be its numbers, with Russia and India purchasing 500 of them with possibly more to come, the PAK-FA will be able to take place in more battles, tipping tides and overwhelming enemy aircraft.

Joshua Smallwood
8th February, 2010 @ 02:49 am PST

Obviously it's main strength will be its numbers, with Russia and India purchasing 500 of them with possibly more to come, the PAK-FA will be able to take place in more battles, tipping tides and overwhelming enemy aircraft.

So with this new plane will India and Russia be looking to start a war to see how over whelming the plane can be?

Thomas Moriarty
19th March, 2010 @ 08:41 am PDT

Isn't this plane supposed to use the Plasma generator to create stealth? From what I understand if that concept works they could be producing stealth sircraft that are FAR cheaper than what the US is building. It looks like someone took a YF23,F22, and SU27 and squished them all together. It is very interesting how the horizontal stabilators blend into trailing edge of the main wings.

Jonathan Hatfield
19th March, 2010 @ 09:55 am PDT

5th Gen implies stealth. So no stealth = 4th gen. It will be interesting to see what the RCS is for this airframe and if they actually use the Plasma bubble concept or not.

What British fighter from the 50's could achieve Mach 1 without afterburner?

Jonathan Hatfield
19th March, 2010 @ 09:59 am PDT
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