Sukhoi Pak-FA T50 (aka Russian Stealth Fighter) makes its first test flight

sukhoi-PAK-FA-Russian-Stealth-Fighter

The long awaited 5th generation Russian Stealth Fighter, classified as the Sukhoi Pak-FA T50, flew its first test flight on 29 January 2010. 

Piloted by Sergei Bogdan, a test pilot for Sukhoi, the T50 made a successful 47 minute testflight, taking off and landing from Sukhoi’s factory runway. On touching down, Bogdan told reporters that everything went well, and that he was impressed by the way the T50 handled:

“In the course of the flight we’ve conducted initial evaluation of the aircraft controllability, engine performance and primary systems operation, the aircraft had retracted and extracted the landing gear. The aircraft performed excellently at all flight-test points scheduled for today. It is easy and comfortable to pilot”

Here’s a video report of the test flight, courtesy of Russia Today:

The T50 is Russia’s first 5th generation plane, and is their answer to the US F22 and F35 fighters, and the long awaited European Joint Strike Fighter.  It has stealth capabilities, much improved on board electronics (which will take a lot of load off the pilot) and the ability to fly at supersonic speeds for the entire length of its flight, but opinion is divided as to it’s true quality. 

Obviously, Sukhoi and the Russian government are talking up it’s qualities, but others are less impressed.  Military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer (who, it should be noted, is usually critical of the Russian military and government) had this to say:

“It’s a humbug.  It’s just a prototype lacking new engines and a new radar. It takes new materials to build a fifth-generation fighter, and Russia lacks them.”

When you combine this with cautious statements from Prime Minister Putin, who called the test flight of the Pak-FA “a big step forward,” but tempered his praise by noting that “a lot remains to be done in terms of engines and armament”, it’s fair to observe that Russia’s plane may not be of quite the high quality of its US and European competitors.

Nonetheless, Russia has pumped almost $10 billion into research and development for their new stealth plane.  In order to recoup all that money, they won’t be able to just reserve it for the Russian military.  Yes, the Russian air force will order around 150-200, at a cost of around $100 million apiece, but the investment will be realised when Sukhoi makes them available on the international market.  India, who were partners in the development of the fighter are said to be going to buy around 200-250 and, if the Pak-FA is of good enough quality and at the right price point, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see global sales top a thousand pretty quickly.

(By the way – in a surprising move, there are rumours that the Pak-FA’s sold to India may actually be constructed in India, in order to keep costs down.  If this proves an profitable strategy, we may see the production of even more Russian military equipment outsourced to countries where labour is cheaper.)

For more information, check out our post on Sukhoi Pak-FA concept designs, and on Russia’s aircraft carrier expansion programme.

Comments

  1. Sublime Oblivion

    My impression quality-wise is that it is somewhere in between the Raptor and F-35, at least it will be once the engine issues are addressed in a few more years. It is well ahead of the Eurofighter, which is basically a glorified 4th generation fighter.

    PS. Rumors are the Americans are christening it the “Firefox”, lol.

  2. La Russophobe

    The raw idiocy of SUBLIME MORON is really amusing.

    The American plane is a fully functional, battle-tested fifth-generation fighter.

    The Russian plane is nothing but a pathetic wannabe, no different than Russia’s talk about sending a man to the moon. IT CAN’T FIGHT. It has ZERO present fifth-generation capabilities.

    It requires, in other words, INFINITE maintenance for each hour of flight. In a war between the two planes, guess which one wins.

    Meanwhile, SUBLIME MORON chooses to ignore the fact that over the course of the MANY YEARS it will take to make this plane fight, IF IT EVER CAN, the US will not be standing still. By that time, the US will be fighting a sixth-generation plane that will make Russia’s variant look like a tinker toy.

    And all the while, Russia’s population will continue to be deprived of the basic living conditions Americans take for granted as their government continues its insane, doomed, suicidal effort to wage a new cold war with the infinitely richer and more powerful USA.

    1. dennis

      that’s why your country is bankrupted, because of the Industrial Military Complex, your country will go down from within.

  3. Sublime Oblivion

    LR is an idiot as usual.

    From the people who actually know what they’re talking about (http://ausairpower.net/notices.html):

    02/02/2010 T-50 PAK-FA: APA has received a large number of email queries asking the question: “when will an analysis of the PAK-FA be published?” … consider reading the following 2009 NOTAMs: When America’s Stealth Monopoly Ends, What’s Next? and Air Combat: Russia’s PAK-FA versus the F-22 and F-35; and the 2009 Technical Report update covering the Tikhomirov NIIP PAK-FA AESA radar. All indications at this time are that the conclusions of the two 2009 NOTAMs will firmly hold, although PAK-FA is more capable in many respects than previously expected.

    See the Air Combat: Russia’s PAK-FA versus the F-22 and F-35 (http://ausairpower.net/APA-NOTAM-300309-1.html).

    The US will almost certainly never build a 6th generation fighter. The F-22 is expected to last through until around the middle of this century, and by that time we will be well into the era of scramjet drones.

  4. TRex

    Russia is a spent force on any level one could care to mention and despite the pipe dreams of certain Poindexter’s will likely remain so.

    Assuming this aircraft is the real deal everyone will be amazed if they build five of them.

  5. Harry Saggo

    well I read every comment in terms of 5th gen. T-50 but definitely I can say russian are supreme in cheaper technolonies (comparing US tech. ) which are more deadlier than US fighter planes. proved in joint exercise with INDIAN AIR FORCE. Dont know when americans will get feeeling of admiring or appreciating others. Technically as many experts said this T50 has every new technique for 5th gen n has comparatively many features of F22 n F35

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