January 14, 2010

Russian-Indian PAK-FA (T-50) First Test Flight - PR Success

The PAK-FA or T-50 is the talk of the aviation world due to its (allegedly) "first" test flight yesterday:

But Airpower Australia (APA) has been reporting on the PAK-FA and has had this artist's rendering since March 2009 due to APA's close Russian contacts:

See rendering in Russia's PAK-FA versus the F-22 and F-35 (APA NOTAM 30th March, 2009) which contains much comparative discussion
Reuters January 29, 2010 reports :

Click to blow-up greatly. From November 2009 issue of Russan-language Popular Mechanics.

New Russian stealth fighter makes first flight MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia test-flew a long-awaited new fighter aircraft on Friday (Jan 29, 2010), determined to challenge the United States for technical superiority in the skies and impress weapons buyers.

The "fifth-generation" stealth fighter -- Russia's first all-new warplane since the collapse of the Soviet Union plunged the defense industry into poverty and disarray -- flew for 47 minutes, planemaker Sukhoi said.

"It's a remarkable event," Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told his cabinet, but he suggested the plane still needed work. "There is very much to be done, in part as regards the engine," Putin said. "But the fact that the plane is already in the air is a big step forward."

...flight [was] at a Sukhoi factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in Russia's Far East.

"The plane performed very well. All our expectations for this first flight were met," Sukhoi spokeswoman Olga Kayukova said on Rossiya 24 television. "The premiere was a success."

Foreign journalists were not invited.

Fifth-generation aircraft are invisible to radar, have advanced flight and weapons control systems and can cruise at supersonic speeds [F-35 only subsonic cruise!]. The new plane is Moscow's answer to the U.S.-built F-22 Raptor stealth fighter -- the world's only fifth-generation fighter yet in service -- which first flew in 1997.

Putin said the plane would first be delivered to the Defense Ministry in 2013 and serial production would start in 2015. Analysts have said it would probably be five to seven years before Russia's military gets to fly the new fighter.

Successful development of the fighter, which Rossiya 24 said has been tentatively dubbed the T-50, is crucial to showing Russia can challenge U.S. technology.

The 1991 Soviet collapse ushered in a cash-strapped time of troubles for Russia's military. Its aircraft makers have been building warplanes based on updated Soviet-era designs.

...The Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified source as saying the new Russian plane had lowered and raised its landing gear twice during the flight and added that "the American F-35 fifth-generation jet couldn't do that (on its test flight)."

Lieutenant Colonel Marcel de Haas, Russian security researcher at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, was not convinced of the plane's bright future.

"My impression is that this new fighter plane is also more propaganda than a real expectancy," he told Reuters by e-mail.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told the cabinet more work had to be done on the engine and the armaments system. Neither he nor Putin went into details.

In a statement on the company website sukhoi.org, Sukhoi director Mikhail Pogosyan said the company planned to develop its fifth-generation fighter program further with India, its biggest client for existing planes.

...Besides India and China, existing clients for Russia's weapons include U.S. foes such as Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and their purchase of an advanced new fighter could cause concern in the United States and its allies.

The U.S. Congress has banned export sales of the F-22. Full Article."
Unless Russia has engaged in productive espionage to steal F-22 and F-35 secrets it may be a decade before a very expensive PAK-FA, T-50 is rolling off the production lines. The cost of production and purchase, deadline slippage and complexity of the F-22 were vastly greater than expected.
Is it simplistic to say that Russia is doing the designing while India is paying most of the development cost (like the Nerpa)?