Moscow has recently released information on its stealth fighter program known as the T-50 (Sukhoi produced). The article below recently appeared in Ria Novosti, Russia's official news outlet. It had been known for some time that aeronautical engineers in Russia were diligently working on an aircraft that would be able to counter the American built F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters. Russia is not new to stealth technology, as many today are prone to assume. In fact, stealth technology began in the Soviet Union. Although the Soviet Union was highly advanced in the field of military technology, the Soviet Politburo never took its fledgling stealth program past the research phase. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the victorious West, spearheaded by the United States, was able to pull well ahead of Russia. But, it's a whole new ball game now. The Vladimir Putin's era has seen the sudden resurgence of the Russian Federation. Freed from its Boris Yeltsin era's Western operatives and thieves and fueled by its limitless energy reserves, Moscow has been able to set its house in order and it has also somewhat managed to close the technology gap that currently exists between it and the West. Russia is on the verge today of producing its first operational stealth fighter, and given the close cooperation taking place between it and Beijing, China may not be too far behind.The Fifth-Generation Fighter
Russian designers are currently developing a fifth-generation fighter plane, also known as the Advanced Front-Line Aviation Complex (PAK FA) for Russia's Air Force. The new warplane is to replace fourth-generation fighters, namely, the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum. The program caught the public's eye after Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov recently said it must be expedited. The decision to develop the fifth-generation T-50 fighter was made in the early 2000s. The Sukhoi, Mikoyan-Gurevich and Yakovlev design bureaus, who primarily develop new fighters, offered their concepts. The Sukhoi Design Bureau was eventually awarded the program. Various maiden flight and delivery deadlines have been mentioned. The fighter is expected to make its appearance sometime between 2008 and 2010. In late 2008, Colonel General Alexandr Zelin, commander of the Air Force, said the warplane would perform its initial flight in August 2009. Last summer, the fighter's design was approved, and the prototype blueprints were delivered to the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Production Association (KNAAPO), where production will reportedly be sited. Currently, the company is building three experimental fighters for testing. These prototypes are due to last for five or six years. However, a production run will not be launched before 2015. Although T-50 specifications remain classified, fragmentary data on its engines imply that this heavy-duty fighter will have a take-off weight of more than 30 metric tons and will be close in dimension to the Su-27. The Tikhomirov Instrument Engineering Research Institute, which designed the Irbis radar system for the Su-35BM Flanker generation four-plus fighter, is now developing the T-50 warplane's radar. It appears that its radar and fire control system will be based on the Su-35BM system. Although nobody knows what the new fighter will look like, most analysts believe it will closely resemble the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor. However, this cannot be verified at this point. Under declassified request for proposal (RFP) provisions, the new highly maneuverable fighter will have a supersonic cruise speed, and its weapons will be stored inside the fuselage. Compared with fourth-generation planes, the T-50 will be much less visible in the radio and infrared bands. The Air Force will be enhanced by these fifth-generation fighters, their weapons and radio-electronic equipment, as well as by ground and airborne combat-support and combat-control systems. Although the various systems are being developed at different paces and to a varying degree of success, they are vitally important to the T-50 program's success. Without them, the fifth-generation fighter would remain an expensive toy and would fail to expand the combat potential of Air Force units.
Tests of Russia's New Fighter Must Start in 2009 - Deputy PM
The testing of Russia's fifth-generation fighter must begin in 2009 and the aircraft should be commissioned with the Russian Air Force in 2015, a deputy prime minister said on Wednesday. "I insist that the testing start as early as 2009, and the fifth-generation fighter must enter service with the Russian Air Force in 2015," Sergei Ivanov said at a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission. Earlier plans set 2010 for the first tests of the new fighter. Ivanov said Russia was "nearing the end of the development of the first prototype of the new fighter." Russia's advanced multirole fighter is being developed by Sukhoi, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), along with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under a preliminary intergovernmental agreement signed in October 2007. Russia and India will simultaneously develop two versions of the combat aircraft - a two-seat version to meet the requirements of India's air superiority doctrine, and a single-seat version for the Russian Air Force. Russia's Sukhoi aircraft maker earlier said it had started to construct a prototype of the fifth-generation fighter, which will feature high maneuverability and stealth to ensure air superiority and precision in destroying ground and sea targets. The Russian version will be built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft-manufacturing plant in Russia's Far East. Ivanov said on Wednesday that the aircraft manufacturing industry should review and adjust some testing programs and methods due to advanced nature of the new aircraft.
Russia, China to Strengthen Ties in Military Aircraft Production
Russia and China are set to boost cooperation in the sphere of combat aircraft production, the director general of Russia's Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer said on Wednesday. "China is one of the main customers for our [Russian] aircraft and today the Chinese Air Force has in service over 200 of our Su-27 Flanker and Su-30 Flanker-C jet fighters," Mikhail Pogosyan said. Pogosyan is on a visit to China with Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and is attending the 13th session of the Russian-Chinese mixed commission on military and technical cooperation. Pogosyan said that the commission is set to discuss the further development of cooperation in the sphere of aircraft production and particularly the licensed production of Su-27 and Su-30 planes in China. China has acquired 76 Su-27SK fighters from Russia since 1992, and bought a license for production of another 200 planes in 1995, in a deal worth $2.5 billion. However, the 1995 agreement did not include the transfer of avionics and AL-31F turbofan engine technology, and the Chinese manufacturers had to rely on the Russian supply of these systems. Pogosyan also told Chinese journalists that Russia would soon sign a contract with India to jointly develop and produce a fifth-generation jet fighter. "We plan to begin flight tests [of the fighter] as early as in 2009," he said. The Russian-Indian advanced multirole fighter is being developed by Sukhoi, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), along with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under a preliminary intergovernmental agreement signed in October 2007. Russia and India will simultaneously develop two versions of the combat aircraft - a two-seat version to meet the requirements of India's air superiority policy, and a single-seat version for the Russian Air Force.
Russian Army to Improve Combat Effectiveness With Spy Drones
Russia's Armed Forces will receive three new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the next 3 years to boost the reconnaissance and precision-strike capabilities of ground units, an industry official said on Tuesday. The new-generation Tipchak mobile aerial system has been designed for reconnaissance and target designation purposes on the battlefield in any weather conditions. The first Tipchak system was put in service at the end of 2008. "We will deliver one Tipchak UAV system to the Defense Ministry every year until 2011," said Arkady Syroyezhko, director of UAV development programs at the Vega Radio Engineering Corp. Tipchak operates up to six UAVs launched from a pneumatic catapult. Each UAV has a range of 40 kilometers (25 miles) and can provide targeting for artillery and theater-based ballistic missiles at distances up to 350 km (about 220 miles). The drone is fitted with infrared and video sensors and has a real-time digital data link for communication with artillery units for laser-guided targeting. The Russian Air Force has launched a number of UAV development programs for various purposes. Air Force Commander, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said last year that Russia would deploy advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with a flight range of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) and flight duration of up to 12 hours by 2011. The UAVs of both fixed- and rotary-wing types will perform a variety of tasks, including reconnaissance, attack, retransmission of radio signals and target designation, the general said. A source in the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said on Tuesday that the Defense Ministry was also considering buying UAVs abroad, but the decision has been delayed by lobbyists from the Russian defense industry. "The purchase of several UAV's from Israel worth $100 million is still being discussed," the source said.
In related news:
Russian Destroyer Leaves Baltic Base on Urgent Mission
Russian missile destroyer Admiral Chabanenko left a naval shipyard in the country's Kaliningrad exclave on an urgent mission after having hurried repair work carried out, a shipyard spokesman said on Wednesday. "Admiral Chabanenko urgently left the Baltiisk naval base on January 20 after receiving orders for a mission of state importance," Sergei Mikhailov said. Following the statement, a Russian military-diplomatic source told RIA Novosti that the destroyer was heading to the Mediterranean for combat training. "The Admiral Chabanenko destroyer has received orders from Navy Headquarters to head for the Mediterranean to accomplish a number of combat training tasks," the source said, adding that it may continue to the Gulf of Aden. A Russian Navy source said earlier that the warship would join the Admiral Vinogradov missile destroyer from Russia's Pacific Fleet, which is currently on an anti-piracy mission in the waters off the Horn of Africa. Chabanenko docked for repairs at the Yantar shipyard on January 15 after its recent Latin American tour-of-duty. The original repair schedule, including the overhaul of the propulsion system, envisioned the work being finished by the end of February. The Northern Fleet destroyer accompanied the Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruiser on a tour of the Atlantic and the Caribbean, participating in joint naval exercises with the Venezuelan navy, passing through the Panama Canal, and visiting a number of Latin American countries, including Cuba. The Admiral Chabanenko, an Udaloy II class missile destroyer, entered service with the Russian Navy in January 1999. It is Russia's only multipurpose destroyer and is intended to be the counterpart to U.S. Arleigh Burke class ships. Designed primarily as an anti-submarine warfare platform, with a long cruising range and underway replenishment capabilities, Udaloy class ships provide support to surface task forces. The Udaloy II is modified by the replacement of the SS-N-14 Silex anti-submarine missiles by the SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles, reflecting a change in emphasis from anti-submarine warfare to surface combat.
Ukraine Says Black Sea Fleet Rearming Unacceptable
Russia has no right to make a unilateral decision on rearming its Black Sea Fleet, based in Ukraine, a senior Ukrainian diplomat said on Tuesday. Some media sources earlier cited an anonymous Russian Navy official as saying that Russia is planning to redeploy a submarine from the Northern Fleet to the Sevastopol base in Ukraine's Crimea. "Russia has no right to replace or add a new vessel to the naval contingent deployed on the Ukrainian territory without prior consent of the Ukrainian government," said Leonid Osavolyuk, director of the first territorial department at Ukraine's Foreign Ministry. He added that Ukraine was willing to discuss possible rearming of the Russian Black Sea Fleet on two conditions: the signing of a special agreement on specific types of weaponry and a bilateral agreement on Black Sea Fleet operations in times of a crisis. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine heightened after several Black Sea Fleet warships dropped anchor off the Georgian coast during and after last August's armed conflict with Tbilisi over breakaway South Ossetia. Ukraine, which sided with Georgia during the conflict, repeatedly said that Russian combat ships frequently transport undeclared cargo and refuse to submit customs declarations while crossing Ukrainian territorial waters Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine's Crimea, including the main base in Sevastopol, as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017. Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko announced in the summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the Sevastopol base beyond 2017, and urged the Russian fleet to start preparations for a withdrawal. Although the agreement for Russia's use of the base includes a possible extension of the lease, with Moscow repeatedly saying it wants to negotiate on the issue, Ukraine reiterated in October that it would not permit an extension of Russia's naval presence in the country after 2017.
Abkhazia Says Georgian Threat Boosts Talks on Russian Naval Base
The possibility of Georgian sabotage in Abkhazia makes the breakaway republic push forward talks with Russia on hosting a base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Abkhazian president said on Monday. "The threat of clandestine Georgian actions prompts both Russia and Abkhazia to speed up talks on the issue," Sergei Bagapsh said in a statement. The Abkhazian president also said his country was ready to "formalize cooperation with the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet." Russia and Abkhazia have agreed to establish a Russian Black Sea Fleet base at Ochamchira, a seaside town in the separatist Georgian republic recognized by Russia as independent. No official documents have been signed, however. Russia's Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine's Crimea as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko announced last summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol beyond 2017, and urged the Russia to start preparations for a withdrawal. Russian media previously reported that Russia was also looking at possible naval facilities in Yemen, Syria and Libya, among other countries. Russian military officials are also on record as saying Moscow could build up its presence in the Mediterranean to make up for the loss of Sevastopol.