PAK-FA_T-50Перспективный Авиационный Комплекс Фронтовой Авиации, Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsy, literally “Future Front-line Aircraft System”

As more video and still footage becomes available, some thoughts are emerging. First observation is that clearly this is just a flying prototype that focuses on the airframe and not much else for a 5th gen fighter:

Alexander Golts, an independent military analyst, said the T-50 is running on old engines, and the only major technological breakthrough was designing the airframe making the jet more difficult for radars to spot, in keeping with its U.S. counterpart.

Still, the basic airframe will define certain things that carry over to the production bird. More observations, video and imagery over at the homepage

Posted by SteelJaw in Aviation
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  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf

    Concur focus is on the airframe. This fits a pattern of Russian military aircraft development. For many years when Russia sells modern military aircraft to China, the Chinese replace the Russian avionics, sensors and weapon systems, usually with French or Israeli systems.

    Interesting to note the Russian industrial infrastructure and required investment to make a 5th generation fighter apparently still exists while the Russian military shipbuilding equivalents as evidenced by the reported Russian procurement of French Mistral class amphibious assault ship do not.

  • Derrick

    Would Russia’s geography make it difficult to maintain a blue water navy? I thought most of Russia’s coastline would be too close to the Arctic to be useful.

    Obviously it’s the job of the US military to have the best military systems in the world, but what is the probability of an US military jet forced to engage this new Russian aircraft within the next 10 years?

  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf

    Russia had a very good blue water Navy in the Cold War.

    I was US Defense Attache in Moscow 2003-2005 and have a lot of Cold War experience with Russian military. My personal subjective view is the Russian military degraded greatly after collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russians saw the end of the Warsaw Pact alliance, but they did not foresee the collapse of the USSR.

    I estimate Russian Air Force declined the most, the Russian Army the least (due to extended ground operations in and around Chechnya), but all Russian miltary forces declined in ability to project military power from their Cold War peak by about an order of magnitude. The Russian military has improved somewhat since hitting a nadir in about 2004, but is still far from Cold War potential, except in the area of Information Operations where they are even better than the Cold War, or at least more willing to exercise their IO capabilities.

    I was a nuclear submarine officer, but am quite certain that this Russian fifth generation aircraft, regardless of the nationality of the pilot, would not be an engagement problem for the F/A-22 or JSF even if the Russian aircraft significantly outnumbered the US opponent. The probability of that engagement occurring in the next ten years is better answered by politicians, but I don’t stay awake at night worrying about the military outcome. That being said, if the US does not reverse its declining performance in education of our young citizens, there could be many reasons for concern beyond ten years.

  • Chuck Hill

    Derrick Says:”Obviously it’s the job of the US military to have the best military systems in the world, but what is the probability of an US military jet forced to engage this new Russian aircraft within the next 10 years?”

    Don’t think this particular aircraft will be engaged by the US in the next 10 years because development cycles are so long now, but even if we never fight the Russians directly, we are very likely to fight products of their aviation industry, just as we did in Korea, Viet Nam, and the Gulf Wars.

  • Derrick:

    Have seen elsewhere that the designer (Sukhoi) is estimating another 5-7 years for the engines to reach a stage that they could be used in the prototype, so I’d say probably looking at an IOC of between 2017-2020.
    w/r, SJS

  • Byron

    Looks like a Raptor-ski in plan view…Of course, after the Mig-25 and Su-27, not to mention the exact copy of the B-29 at the end of WW2, this does not suprise me.

  • Wharf Rat

    After the years it took to get the F-22 going, is it not surprising their is a look-a-like here. And is it plausible that this aircraft was based on stolen intelligence?

    I’ve heard a few times that DC has more spies since the cold war than during it. Who sold out our country?

    It is not plausible that this aircraft exists simply because the Rooskie’s took a picture.

    And I’m guessing our intelligence likely knew about this a/c long before it flew (I hope they did).