Russia’s latest fighter aircraft flew on 5 December for the first time with the NPO Saturn “Product 30” engine, which will be the production standard for the Sukhoi Su-57.
Sukhoi has built and flown nine flight test prototypes of the Su-57 fighter powered by NPO Saturn Product 117 engines, which are derived from the AL-41F-1S afterburning turbofans developed for the Su-35.
But the Russian air force plans to replace the Product 117 in series production starting in 2020 with the Product 30 engines, possibly featuring a new engine core of which few details are known.
Russian government officials have said the Product 30 will provide more thrust and fuel efficiency, with reduced weight and maintenance requirements.
The 5 December test flight by Sukhoi chief test pilot Sergei Bogdan from the Gromov flight test centre at Zhukovsky AB lasted 17min, according to Russia’s Ministry for Industry and Trade.
Photos and video of the flight shows the Product 30 installed in the No. 1, or port-side, engine position, with a Product 117 engine remaining on the starboard side. The Product 30 features a serrated engine nozzle, compared to the flat nozzle on the Product 117.
The flight test was conducted by the second Su-57 aircraft prototype, also known as T-50-2.
"This is proof of the high potential of Russian aircraft building, capable of creating highly intelligent advanced systems," says Russian Industry and Trade minister Denis Manturov.
The Su-57 is expected to enter service as Russia’s first so-called fifth-generation fighter after the end of this decade, featuring some stealth technology, along with internal weapons bays and advanced sensors, including active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and infrared search and track cameras.
Government testing of the Su-57 prototypes is nearing the end of the first stage, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The Putin government is still assembling the next multi-year state armaments plan, which will decide the timing and the number of Su-57s purchased through 2027. But the Ministry of Industry and Trade still the current plan remains on track, with the Su-57 becoming Sukhoi’s largest military product by 2020.