Russia’s T-50 fighter stretches its legs

Almost two years and more than 200 flights into its test programme, Russia’s PAK-FA/T-50 fifth-generation fighter has made its first “long-distance” sortie.

Completed on 17 January using Sukhoi’s fourth prototype, the multi-legged flight between the Komsomolsk-on-Amur production plant and the Zhukovsky military test centre near Moscow covered a cool 3,400nm (6,300km).

Piloted by Sergey Bogdan, “the aircraft performed well during the flight”, says Sukhoi. Not too shabby, considering that the T-50 in question (company-provided shot below) had only made a 40min debut in the air on 12 December, 2012.

t-50 560.jpgThe first PAK-FA got airborne on 29 January, 2010. “At present, the work is going on a whole range of ground and flight tests of three aircraft. Soon the T-50-4 fighter will join the tests,” says Sukhoi.

Our recently-published World Air Forces directory lists the air forces of Russia and india as planning to purchase 60 and 144 T-50s, respectively. It looks like I won’t get my first chance to see a test example in the flesh in at August’s Moscow MAKS air show (I’m likely to be in Washington, DC, instead), so maybe our Russian friends could consider giving the impressive-looking type a debut at another minor shindig in Paris during June. That would certainly turn a few heads.


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