The Russian military has announced that they will build significantly fewer fifth-generation fighters than previously planned due to the country’s current economic situation, Russia Beyond The Headlines reports citing comments from the Deputy Defence Minister in charge of Armaments Yuri Borisov.
Russia previously had plans to produce 52 fifth-generation T-50 fighters by 2020. However, these plans have been drastically scaled back. The Kremlin will now only procure 12 of the new jets.
“Given the new economic conditions, the original plans may have to be adjusted,” Borisov said. “It is better to have the PAK FA kept as a reserve, and later move forward, while squeezing everything possible for now out of the 4+ generation fighters.”
The 4+ generation fighters are aircraft like the Russian Su-30 and Su-34 which generally feature radar and avionics upgrades over older models.
As part of a proposed air force modernization plan, Russia had already introduced 34 Su-30s and 20 Su-34s into its fleet.
The Kremlin had plans for a $US130 billion air force modernization effort that was set to last through 2020. The multi-billion dollar initiative was meant to reinforce Russia’s ageing military with modern aircraft, the fifth-generation T-50, helicopters, and air defence systems.
This plan is now in jeopardy. Russia’s economy suffers under sanctions, slumping oil prices, and a weak ruble.However, Borisov has left open the possibility that the Ministry of Defence can change the number of planes for annual purchase at any time.
The T-50, also known as the Su-50, is being produced by Russian manufacturer Sukhoi. The final version of the T-50 is expected to be introduced by 2016.
Upon completion, the Kremlin plans on creating a string of Su-50 variants for both export and domestic use.
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