VIDEO: PAK-FA needs advanced composites. Can Russia make them?

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.


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2 Responses to VIDEO: PAK-FA needs advanced composites. Can Russia make them?

  1. alloycowboy 17 May, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    Russia could spend the time and money to develop an advanced composite industry but why bother when they can go to Taiwan? What Russia needs to do is master composite design and quality control and let Taiwan do the manufacturing. The bicycle industry has been doing this very successfully for twenty years. By taking this route Moscow gets the added advantage of pissing off Beijing which would be just pay back for China’s reversed engineering all of Russia’s aviation technology.

  2. Thomas Barton, JD 18 May, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Maybe they should buy the necessary machinery from Taiwan and poach some engineering talent from a tennis racket company and a european or US company that builds carbon composite frames for motorcycles and racing cars.

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