Russia’s answer to the Lockheed Martin F-22 — the Sukhoi T-50 prototype — isn’t expected to fly for several months. Conceived under the optimistically-named Promising Aircraft System for Tactical Aviation, or PAK-FA, program, the T-50 will reportedly pack F-22-like stealth, speed and advanced avionics into a similarly F-22-like large airframe.
PAK-FA was understood to be Russia’s answer to both the F-22 and the F-35, but that exclusive status may be about to change.
Alexey Federov, the head of the United Aircraft Corporation, which is sort of like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman combined, has recently disclosed interest in building a “lightweight” fifth-generation fighter after completing the PAK-FA.
Consider this interview with the Russian-language newspaper Vedomosti, dated 26 March:
Q: Do we not put our position in the market in jeopardy by the end of thenext decade if we have no basic fighter? The Chinese have made their own withour help.
A: I fully agree that Russia needs a light fighter – both for theworld market, and for its own air force. But due to limitedresources, we first decided to concentrate on the heavy fifth-generationfighter. Incidentally, the Americans went the same way, firstwith the F-22. This question requires a detailed discussion with the military. Ihope that we come to create the fifth-generation lightweight fighter.
Translation by Google, with editing.