Moscow: Russia's fifth generation fighter will likely take to the skies by the end of 2008, Russia's first deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, said Tuesday at a session of the government's military commission.
"We are nearing the end of research and development work, and Mikhail [Pogosyan, the head of Sukhoi] confirmed that the first plane will make its maiden flight in late 2008," Ivanov said.
Ivanov, who oversees industrial development in his new responsibility as first deputy prime minister, said the new fighter would become the mainstay of Russian frontline defence aviation in the 21st century. Ivanov was handling responsibilities as Russia's defence minister till recently, before being promoted as first deputy prime minister.
According to Ivanov, the new Sukhoi design bureau developed multirole fighter, will feature high maneuverability and stealth to ensure air superiority and precision in destroying ground and sea targets.
"The development of a new generation aircraft will certainly boost the authority and competitiveness of the Russian defense industry on global markets," Ivanov said.
Earlier in the year, India and Russia appeared to have arrived at an agreement to co-develop, and eventually produce, a Sukhoi-design bureau fifth generation fighter platform. The two sides were understood to have finalised technical and financial committees to decide on the features, funding and management of the project. Reports suggested that only a few outstanding issues remained to be ironed out. The Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd was also designated as the Indian agency that would be involved with the project.
Subsequently, speculation was afoot that India may have opted out of the Sukhoi-led programme and gone in for a MiG-bureau designed platform instead.