Photo: Marina Lystseva via the youngster
Of the jets in production that promise to take military fighters deep into the 21st century and beyond, the U.S. F-35, the Chinese J-20, and the Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA are at the top of the heap.Much like the F-35 is being sold to American allies, the Russians’ T-50 will be offered to countries looking for an alternative to Lockheed Martin’s fifth generation fighter.
India is tasked with getting a propulsion system into the Russian design; once that’s done and the kinks are ironed out, 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 delivery until 2035 at the earliest.
And if Americans thought they were alone in questioning the need for a fighter program, that by design seems a feature of the past, in today’s drone-filled skies, many Russians question the need for their new fighter as well.
“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.”
The only 5th generation fighter currently in operation is the F-22, but the Russians are eager to get the T-50 into service
Russia doesn't compare the T-50 to the F-35, preferring to compete with the F-22, but the F-35 is the future of America and her allies
The T-50 will be the backbone of the Russian air force — but it's not as stealth as the F-35 — with T-50 designers going for manoeuvrability over secrecy
Though the T-50 tops out at 1300 mph compared to the F-35's 1200 mph, the American fighter can launch its internal missiles and smart-bombs while flying faster than the speed of sound
Both jets can slip into thickly defended aground targets, but the F-35 will be better at taking them out — the T-50 is better suited for air-to-air battles
The T-50 is said to have an excellent weapons firing range, but the F-35 has three variations tailored to specific missions
Russia hopes to capture a third of 5th generation stealth fighter market, but the F-35 is intended to be the Allied jet of the century with several countries already signed up
The T-50 can take off using a relatively short 300 meter runway — but the F-35 also has a short take-off model — as well as a vertical takeoff variant
The T-50 program is still getting off the ground — the first batch enters an evaluation phase this year — but the F-35 already has a training school for pilots and crew of its three variants
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