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Su-27M flies with power upgrade

Sukhoi has performed the first test flights of an Su-27M fighter powered by prototype NPO Saturn AL-41F1 engines. The powerplant is being developed for improved Su-27 series aircraft and Russia's planned next-generation lightweight fighter.

The modified aircraft had a 55min maiden flight on 5 March from the Gromov Flight Test and Research Institute in Zhukosky. The developmental powerplant is understood to provide 33,000lb (145kN) of augmented thrust.

Research and development costs on the variable cycle, thrust-vectoring engine have totalled $1.5 billion since the early 1980s, and $300 million is required to complete the effort, says Yuri Chepkin, director of the NPO Saturn Moscow Centre.

The engine is a reduced-scale version of the 44,000lb-thrust AL-41F developed for Russia's abandoned MFI heavyweight fighter project, and is being jointly developed by NPO Saturn and UMPO.

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