Moscow: Russia's new, fifth generation fighter jet, to be jointly developed with India will make its maiden flight no later than in 2012, according to the deputy commander of the Russian Air Force. In India the new aircraft is referred to as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).
Russia and India agreed to cooperate in the development and production of the advanced multi-purpose fighter aircraft early on in the month, on October 18.
"The deadlines have been set – it must take to the skies in 2012 and enter service with the Air Force in 2015," RIA-Novosti quoted Lt Gen Igor Sadofyev, deputy commander of the Russian Air Force as saying.
The general said Indo-Russian cooperation on the project would significantly boost its development. "International cooperation and joint development efforts will certainly expedite the process," Sadofyev said. "It's a path the whole world is taking nowadays, and we are no exception."
Meanwhile, he also mentioned that the Russian Air Force was planning to procure at least six to eight Su-34 strike aircraft (Nato codename: Fullback) every year, starting from 2008. "Russia's Air Force desperately needs the Su-34s," the general said.
"I would prefer to re-equip at least two air regiments every year - that is, 48 aircraft," Sadofyev said. "Unfortunately, this is financially impossible at present, but it is perhaps we will get six to eight planes annually".
The $36 million Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft equipped with twin AL-31MF afterburning turbojet engines, and is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night. It fields weaponry that includes a 30mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs.
The Su-34s will eventually replace the Su-24 (Nato codename: Fencer) frontline bombers. According to aviation experts, the new bomber has the potential to be regarded as the top plane in its class for years to come.