Last week, Russia’s answer to USA’s F-22 Raptor, the PAK FA T-50, performed its first-ever test flight. The maiden flight marked the new era in the aviation industry of Russia – the era of the 5th generation fighter jet.
The jet has been awaited since 2002. The project generated a great deal of gossip and myths. Many lost faith in Russia’s ability to create such technological and promising machine. Forty-seven minutes of the T-50 flight set everything in its place. This jet is not only a reality, but a serious pretense for the world leadership in military aviation.
“This is a huge success of the Russian science and designer’s thought”, said Mikhail Pogosyan, Director General of Suhkoi aircraft holding after the test flight. “Over a hundred of sub-contracting enterprises, our strategic partners, made this happen. The PAK FA (Russian abbreviation for "Future Front line Aircraft System") advances Russian aeronautics, together with allied industries, to an entirely new technological level.”
As suggested before, Т-50 resembles the American F-22 in appearance - aerodynamics is a stubborn thing. There are no miracles, and optimal shapes of promising machines always resemble each other – same nose dome, same tail unit. Under the fuselage you can clearly see missile-bay doors. The biggest difference between the American Raptor and T-50 is a more flattened shape of the latter.
“PAK FA goes far beyond just the new looks,” told Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Public Council of the Ministry of Defense to Izvestia. “It was designed with a number of innovative solutions related to new concealment technologies, new construction materials, artificial intelligence and element base.”
The All-Russian Research Institute for Aircraft Materials reported that T-50 is the first jet built with polymer carbon fiber reinforced plastic. This material is twice as light as aluminum and four to five times lighter than steel. New materials account for 70 percent of the jet’s surface. It is four times lighter than jets assembled with regular materials.
A new phased-array radar facility was created for this jet. Experts with Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design stated that the new radar represents over a thousand of miniature transmittance modules combined in a single field. The radar “sees” everything that is going on both in the air and on the ground at a distance of several hundred kilometers. It can track multiple targets aiming the jet’s weapons at all them simultaneously. The developers say it can shoot at all targets at the same time, releasing missiles in a fan-like fashion.
Additionally, the new jet’s onboard equipment allows for real-time data exchange both with ground control systems and other pilots in a flight group. This 5th generation jet is equipped with principally new complex of avionics integrating the electronic pilot function. This means that the jet analyzes the situation and suggests a range of actions for the pilot to choose from. It will significantly decrease the pilot’s workload allowing more attention to be paid to tactical missions.
Test-pilot, Sergey Bogdan, said: “The aircraft performed excellently at all flight-test points scheduled for today. It is easy and comfortable to pilot.”
“Sukhoi” representatives said that after the test flight, Т-50 will be disassembled and transported to Zhukovsky in the Moscow region to complete testing. The first production samples of the 5th generation jet are expected in 2015. The beginning of the testing shows that “Sukhoi” enterprise have once again met all its obligations. For now Russian military aviation will use the most advanced modification of the legendary Su-27, fighter jet Su-35. The jet’s structure and onboard equipment include some of the elements created for T-50.
The Army is to Receive T-50 by 2015
Vladimir Putin praised those who were involved in the design and testing of the 5th generation jet.
“The flight is a big step forward,” he said. “A lot remains to be done in terms of engines and armament."
According to Vice Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov, there is a lot more to be done with respect to the jet. This includes the engine, weapon system, and preparation of the testing grounds.