There is no shortage of uncertainty about the future of Russia’s Sukhoi Perspektivniy Aviatsonnoi Kompleks-Frontovoi Aviatsii (PAK-FA)/T-50 fifth-generation fighter project. These doubts are driven by problems with major subsystems, delays with the aircraft’s introduction into service, and plans to defray some of the R&D cost by making India a developmental partner on the aircraft.
Sukhoi PAK FA
“Imported avionics” are being installed into Russian air force aircraft in increasing quantities, “to ensure that our airframers satisfy our demanding requirements for their new and upgraded products,” said Russian air force commander Lt. Gen. Victor Bondarev at last week’s Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2013).
Three of the four Sukhoi T-50 prototypes now flying came together in formation over the Moscow Air Show at Zhukovsky this week. According to the organizers of MAKS 2013, one-third of the more than 1,000 exhibiting companies were from abroad.
The air force commanders of both Russia and India have this month discussed the progress and future schedule of the fifth-generation Sukhoi fighter project. They are keen to have their own pilots evaluate the design so that they can take a decision on further funding for the project.
An Indian negotiating team is heading for Russia to finalize details of the country’s participation in development of the Sukhoi T-50, also known by the Russian acronym PAK FA and by India as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). India is providing half of the expected $11 billion cost to develop the aircraft, and earlier signed a preliminary design contract worth $295 million.
The third prototype of Russia’s new T-50 stealth fighter now has an AESA radar. Sukhoi reported this month that the program has logged more than 120 test flights, which suggests that only some 20 flights have been made in the past nine months. However, Russian air force commander Gen.
The joint Indo-Russian project to produce a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) for the Indian Air Force is facing a two-year delay. It will now take nine years instead of the stipulated seven to develop. The Indian Air Force attributes the delay to Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), which has a workshare of 25 percent in the program.
Russian Air Force commander Gen. Alexander Zelin has elaborated further about aircraft acquisition plans under the country’s Weapons Program 2011-2020. His comments addressed the Sukhoi series of combat aircraft, as well as airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, airlifters and the Yak-130 jet trainer. Zelin said that the air force will acquire about 60 Sukhoi PAKFA (T-50) fifth-generation fighters by 2020.
Russia’s first stealth fighter, the Sukhoi T-50, made its public debut last week at the Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2011), where Russian air force commander General Alexander Zelin gave an update on this and other re-equipment programs. The two T-50 prototypes flew in formation, before one gave a restrained solo display.
Sukhoi’s T-50 fifth-generation fighter program has made significant strides since the first aircraft (T-50-1) flew at the Knaapo factory’s airfield back in January 2010. The most important recent milestone is the first flight of the second aircraft (T-50-2), which is now scheduled to join T-50-1 in flight trials.
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