One of the key questions about Russia’s PAK-FA fighter program concerns the national industry’s capacity to produce the advanced composites required for stealth fighters.
Indeed, the question, “Can Russia’s emerging composites industry keep up with production” was nearly topped the list of questions in an exhaustive PAK-FA dossier published last year by David Markov and Andrew Hall — both experts at a US think-tank called the Institute for Defense Analyses.
A Russian-language news video posted online last week appears designed to re-assure any doubters about the readiness of the PAK-FA’s advanced composites supply chain.
Based on a Google translation of a transcript of the report, which is headlined “Black Wings”, it’s possible to discern the gist of the story, if not the details.
With shots from inside an advanced composite factory that would certainly be off-limits to the press in the West, Russian officials say the PAK-FA’s composites technology has been developed since the 1970s, with experience gained on Russia’s Buran space shuttle and more recently the MS-21 regional jet.
This is the key part of the story:
Russian Technologies, have developed a special carbon fiber material. The main technological know-how in the so-called prepregs – semi-finished materials. Their characteristics are directly dependent on how homogeneously alloyed carbon fiber and resin part. “These technologies are in the world is very closed. For example, the technology of getting a good carbon fiber possess 2-3 countries in the world. And buy it impossible. Either you have to develop it himself, or will buy the finished product, there are airplanes, etc., but he already can not do it “, – says General Director of the Moscow Engineering Experimental Plant – Composite Technology Valery Litvinov.