Russia's T-50 PAK FA Not Fifth-Generation Fighter Jet Yet

Prime Minister Putin praised Russia’s new fifth-generation fighter jet when he visited the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute in the Moscow region on June 17. However, Putin was hasty in his remarks. The T-50 fighter jet, which performed its 16th test flight for Putin, can not be referred to as the fifth-generation aircraft. Experts claim that the plane has to be reequipped to obtain the title.

For the time being, the PAK FA jet meets only a few requirements of the aircraft of this class, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper said.

According to experts’ estimates, if a plane does not correspond to two or three requirements on the list of technical qualities, it can not be considered as fifth-generation aircraft. That is why the USA’s F-35 and Russia’s MiG-35 are only budget replacements of the genuine F-22 and T-50 fifth-generation jets.

The plane, which was demonstrated to Putin in the town of Zhukovsky, corresponded to a part of technical requirements. It is a multi-role jet that can be used both for executing air defense tasks and for striking ground-based targets.

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The T-50 develops the ultrasonic speed in a regular operation mode. Fourth-generation jets had to use the afterburner for the purpose. The T-50 engine consists of the digital control system and the plasma ignition system. The engine and the advanced construction of glider give the jet extra high maneuvering abilities. Russian specialists are working on the next generation of engines that are said to improve the flight performance of the T-50.

The stealth technology, a mandatory requirement for a fifth-generation fighter jet, has not been fully developed for T-50. It is worthy of note that the T-50 is the stealthiest plane among all Russian warplanes. However, US specialists sacrificed additional maneuvering ability to make the F-22 stealthier. Experts say that Russian engineers will most likely choose the maneuvering capability between the two qualities.

The PAK FA carries state-of-the-art radar equipment with active phased antenna array. The Russian-made device allows to conduct all-sided and multi-channel target servicing, which is also one of the requirements for fifth-generation fighter jets.

The T-50 lacks the required electronic equipment. The plane of this class must carry state-of-the-art avionics: a circular data system, automated interference control and other systems. It was earlier reported that India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited would deal with development of the navigation system and the mission computer for the T-50.

Vladimir Putin said in Zhukovsky that the T-50 fifth-generation fighter jet would be 2.5 or even 3 times less expensive than its foreign analogues. The Russian jet will overcome the USA’s F-22 on its maneuvering ability, arms and range.

Russia has spent 30 billion rubles on the first stage of the development of the plane and will require additional 30 billion rubles for the second stage. The modernization of the engine and the arms of the jet will follow next.

PAK FA’s speed limit is 2600 km/h, the maximum non-afterburning speed – 2100 km/h. The practical range – 4300 km. For comparison, F-22 Raptor’s speed limit makes up 2410 km.h, the maximum non-afterburning speed – 1963 km/h, and the practical range – 3219 km.

Moskovsky Komsomolets

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov