The T-50 will be offered to countries — and Russian allies — looking for an alternative to the F-35, Lockheed Martin’s long-delayed fifth generation fighter. The Russians expect to sell about 1,000 fighters worldwide.
But those countries won’t be training pilots any time soon. According to Russia’s Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT) the delivery schedule could be decades away for some purchasing nations. Malaysia won’t get their T-50s until 2035 at the earliest.
And if Americans thought they were alone in questioning the need for an advanced fighter program in today’s drone-filled skies, many Russians are also wondering at the need for their new aircraft.
“There is no mission and no adversary for such plane,” Russian defence analyst Konovalov says. “It would be more expedient to fit modern avionics to older generation jets.”