Russia’s first stealth fighter intended to match the latest U.S. design made its maiden flight Friday, boosting the country’s efforts to modernize its rusting Soviet-built arsenals and retain its lucrative export market.
The Sukhoi T-50’s flight comes nearly two decades after the first prototype of the U.S. F-22 Raptor took to the air, and Russian officials said it will take another five years for the new jet to enter service.
The sleek twin-engined jet closely resembling the Raptor flew for 47-minutes from an airfield at Sukhoi’s production plant in the Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur on Friday. Development of the fifth-generation fighter has been kept in secrecy and no images of it had been released before the flight.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hailed the flight as a “big step forward”! Much remains to be done in terms of engines and armament. The T-50 should offer the Russian Air Force a significant boost in its capabilities and ensure that it remains one of the best equipped air forces in the world. For those countries that don’t traditionally purchase military equipment from the U.S,. it will be the only fifth generation aircraft available. Military analysts suggested that they were a slightly modernized version of the Soviet-era engine powering the Su-27 family of fighters and It’s just a prototype lacking new engines and a new radar. It takes new materials to build a fifth-generation fighter, and Russia lacks them.”
Russian officials have also said the new fighter, like the Raptor, will have supersonic cruising speed and stealth capabilities. But the Russian military lacks a modern communications system and satellite navigation. “It would be more expedient to fit modern avionics to older generation jets.”
Will see how it matches up if they ever meet in battle!