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Friday, March 4, 2011

Second Russian PAK FA Prototype Makes First Flight

The second prototype of Russia’s fifth generation Sukhoi T-50 fighter developed under the PAK FA program made its maiden flight today. The 44-min flight made from the airfield of KnAAPO's facility in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in Russia’s Far East, was successful, Sukhoi reported.

blog post photo
Second Sukhoi T-50 prototype (credits - Sukhoi)

The second T-50 will join the first prototype for flight testing. One more aircraft T-50-0 is used for static tests. Another aircraft, T-50-KNS, is believed to be used as a complex full-scale stand model intended for ground testing. The first T-50 flew for the first time in January 2010 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Last April it was delivered to Zhukovsky Gromov LII flight research institute where it started initial flight tests. According to Sukhoi, the first prototype has logged 36 flights to date.

The T-50 will demonstrate an unprecedented small radar cross section in radar, optical and infrared range due to composites and innovative technologies applied in the fuselage, aerodynamics of the aircraft and decreased engine signature. Sukhoi said the new fighter will be equipped with a brand-new avionics suite integrating “electronic pilot” functionality, as well as advanced phased-array antenna radar. New aircraft on-board equipment will give T-50 network-centric capabilities allowing real-time data exchange not only with ground based control systems, but also within the flight group, say the designers.

Earlier this year Sukhoi head Mikhail Pogosyan promised that the third (T-50-3) prototype will also join flight trials this year. According to him, the task for the first two aircraft is to test aerodynamics, stability and controllability while the 3rd and 4th aircraft will be equipped with onboard equipment required by the customer including the new N050 AESA radar developed by Tikhomirov NIIP.

PAK FA is intended to replace the Russian Air Force’s Su-27 fighters. Last year Russian military officials said that the serial production of the new aircraft is to start in 2016 and the initial order from the Air Force may be more than 50 aircraft.

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