Langkawi, Malaysia: Flight tests of the fifth-generation Indo-Russian fighter will begin as early as 2009, while series production of the aircraft may start by 2015, according to Sukhoi design bureau officials. The next-generation multi role fighter is being developed from a Russian prototype developed by the Sukhoi design bureau, in conjunction with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, under an inter-governmental agreement signed in October.
"At present we are building prototypes of the fifth-generation fighter and will soon start preparation for flight-testing, which is planned for 2009," Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan announced at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) 2007 exhibition in Malaysia.
According to Pogosyan, mass production of the fighter could begin by 2015.
The new fighter aircraft is slated to feature high maneuverability and stealth for air superiority and precision attacks for the destruction of ground and sea targets. The aircraft are likely to be built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft-manufacturing plant in Russia''s Far East.
According to Pogosyan, the Indo-Russian project right now should be focused on three areas: coordination of technical specifications, application of advanced technologies, and preparation of a legal framework for future cooperation.
"We have conducted preliminary discussions on these issues and now we have to work out a detailed program for the implementation of the [fifth-generation fighter] project," the official said.
According to the Russian defence ministry the existing Indo-Russian military-technical cooperation programme, which lasts until 2010, lists up to 200 projects worth about $18 billion in all.
Indo-Russian ties, however, have come under increasing strain lately and it is a matter of conjecture how many of these projects will ultimately see the light of the day.