Russia's Stealth Fighter: The Sukhoi PAK FA (T-50)
Not to be outdone by America, President Putin proudly showed of the new Sukhoi FA stealth fighter recently. This is the 5th generation aircraft for Sukhoi, and at a glance, their is a resemblance to the US F-22 Raptor, except it is larger. One notable difference is that the F-22 only has a radar in its nose, the Sukhoi, has X and L radars on its wings, nose and rear. Clearly, this aircraft will have 360 degree tracking. As far as specifications, the aircraft are similar in speed. This is intended to succeed the MiG-29 and Su-27 in the Russian inventory and as the basis of the Sukhoi / HAL FGFA be developed with India to serve. India will eventually received a different version of this aircraft. Each aircraft costs between $47-57 million and Russia hopes to produce about 1000 of them. Yet, already there are delays to problems. Originally, the aircraft was to ready for production by 2013, this date has been pushed back to 2019. Russia will have limited numbers before then. The aircraft debuted to the world and public in August 2011.
The materials used and design makes it a stealth aircraft, the question is, how stealthy? It is bigger and has two engines. Some pilots have expressed that it may not be as invisible to radar as the F-22 is. Also, many of computer systems may need to rely on American computer chips. Designed to compete against the F-22 in traditional Beyond Visual Range and Within Visual Range air combat, the PAK-FA shares all of the key fifth generation attributes until now unique to the F-22 - stealth, supersonic cruise, thrust vectoring, highly integrated avionics and a powerful suite of active and passive sensors. Its extreme maneuverability/controllability design features, which result in extreme agility, give it the potential to become the most lethal and survivable fighter ever built for air combat engagements.
So, it comes down to the pilot expertise and how well do all the parts work. The potential is there for a better aircraft than the F-22, which has its own problems. If the Sukhoi is what it seems to be, then the US F-22 has met its match and maybe even the US F-35 being developed.
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