Sukhoi is to produce an advanced Su-35 variant of its Su-27 fighter for the Russian air force, amid concerns that the parallel development of Moscow’s fifth-generation fighter will be delayed by a shortage of funds.
Preliminary design work on the so-called T-50 is scheduled for completion late next year, but the Russian counterpart to the USA’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is unlikely to enter service and mass production until 2015, says Sukhoi general designer Mikhail Pogosyan.
The design bureau has already spent about $100 million of its own funds on the project, he says.
It is unclear how the proposed interim Su-35 would differ from the upgraded Su-27SM now entering Russian air force service, although it is expected to share the Su-30MK’s external layout and have new avionics, equipment and armaments intended for the T-50.
The Moscow-based Avionika research and development corporation is currently bench-testing T-50 avionics, including a digital flight-control system.