Russia to test another Sukhoi T-50 fifth-generation fighter

Russia's Sukhoi design bureau will start testing another T-50 PAK FA fifth generation fighter jet until the end of the year. Mikhail Pogosyan, the head of the bureau, told reporters on November 22 that the first plane, which is currently being tested, had performed 40 flights. The official described the tests of the new plane as successful and fast.

The maiden flight of Russia's new fighter jet, produced with the use of stealth technology, took place on January 29 in Russia's Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The serial production of the fifth-generation fighter is expected to be launched in 2015. The PAK FA jet is said to replace MiG-29 and Su-27 in Russia's Air Force. The training of crews for T-50 is to begin in 2013. T-50 is expected to overcome Western analogues in terms of the price-efficiency correlation and raise significant interest on the international market. For the time, it is only the United States that has fifth-generation fighter jets.

According to Mikhail Pogosyan, Sukhoi currently has over 100 orders for the plane from Russia's defense ministry. More orders are to be signed next year, the official said. The total number of orders for PAK FA planes may reach 150, RIA Novosti reports.

Three years ago, the Russian Federation put forward a suggestion to India to participate in the creation of PAK FA. The two sides will spend approximately 8-10 billion dollars on the project. Two versions of the new plane are to be designed - with one and two seats.

Russia is expected to finish the talks regarding India's participation in the project until the end of the current year. The fifth-generation fighter jet is to be put into service in Russia and India in 2020.

In the future, the two countries intend to sell T-50 planes to other countries. Russia and India are working on an export modification of the plane. The export version of the plane is called FGFA - Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft. Sukhoi plans to produce 100 fifth-generation aircraft a year.

A fifth generation jet fighter, it is designed to directly compete with Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. The PAK-FA SH121 radar complex includes three X-Band AESA radars located on the front and sides of the aircraft. These will be accompanied by L-Band radars on the wing leading edges. L-Band radars are proven to have increased effectiveness against VLO targets which are optimized only against X-Band frequencies, but their longer wavelengths reduce their resolution.

The PAK-FA will feature an IRST optical/IR search and tracking system. Sukhoi recently demonstrated cockpit mock-ups, which may relate to both Su-35 or PAK-FA, suggest two very large MFDs and a very wide HUD.

As for its drawbacks, experts point out the improper use of the stealth technology in the production of PAK FA. Choosing between maneuverability and stealth, Sukhoi chose the first quality.

Experts also say that the electronic equipment of the T-50 does not meet the requirements of a fifth-generation jet.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin observed the flight of the T-50 fighter in June of this year in the Moscow region. It was a 16th test flight of the aircraft. Putin stated after the test that the new Russian fighter will be twice as cheap as its Western analogues, whereas its performance will exceed that of its prime competitor, the F-22 of the USA.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov