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Russian 5th-Gen fighter makes second flight news
16 February 2010

Moscow: Russia's prototype fifth-generation fighter, the Sukhoi bureau designed  T-50 PAK-FA, has made a second test flight in the Far East, a Russian defence ministry official has informed local media.

The Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA
The official said that the aircraft would undergo a number of test flights at its current location in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, before being transported to the Zhukovsky airbase near Moscow for final rounds of testing. The current prototype, known as the T-50 and designed by the Sukhoi bureau, was built at a plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

The fighter's first prototype made a 47-minute maiden flight in Russia's Far East on 29 January. A spokesperson for Sukhoi earlier said the prototype showed "superb performance" during its maiden flight. "It has met all our expectations during the maiden flight," said Olga Kayukova.

The defence ministry official was upbeat about the aircraft's capabilities, saying it had "a very bright future." He mentioned that Russian specialists had been carefully monitoring the US F-22 Raptor, an aircraft of the same class as the PAK-FA, and that the Russian fighter was shaping up as a good competitor.

The T-50 has already been hailed by Russian authorities as "a unique warplane" that combines the capabilities of an air superiority fighter and attack aircraft.

According to Sukhoi designers, the new fighter will feature advanced avionics, powerful vector thrust engines, high-precision weaponry and stealth technology.

"The use of composite materials and advanced technologies, improved aerodynamics, and reduced engine heat signature minimizes its radio-frequency, optical and infrared visibility. All these features significantly boost the combat effectiveness of the plane," Sukhoi has said in a statement.

The aircraft is also expected to have a high cost-performance ratio and could become a new key item in Russia's arms exports in the future.

Russia's Air Force chief has said the first batch of fifth-generation fighters would enter operational service in 2015.

The aircraft will be jointly developed with India's state-owned aerospace complex, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). While HAL will develop a two-seat variant of the fighter, in accordance with Indian Air Force requirements, Sukhoi will turn out a single-seat version for the Russian Air Force. The Indian version has been dubbed as the Fifth Generation fighter Aircraft (FGFA).

A detailed contract on joint development is expected to be formally signed in March in the course of a visit to Delhi by Russian premier Vladimir Putin. The contract will commit both the Russian UAC and India's HAL to building 250 fighters for their respective air forces.

HAL and UAC will be equal partners in the joint venture company, which will be modelled along the lines of the immensely successful BrahMos Aerospace JV.

HAL, according to reports, will get a 25 per cent share of design and development work in the FGFA programme, which will include critical software, including the mission computer, navigation systems, most of the cockpit displays, the counter measure dispensing (CMD) systems and modifying Sukhoi's single-seat prototype into a twin-seat fighter for the IAF.

Russian expertise in titanium structures will be complemented by India's experience in composites, which will be used extensively in building the fuselage. While the Russian Air Force will have 200 single-seat and 50 twin-seat PAK FAs, the Indian Air Force will get 200 twin-seat and 50 single-seat FGFAs.

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Russian 5th-Gen fighter makes second flight