Russia showcasing new Sukhoi fighters at Moscow air show

Aug. 23, 2013 at 7:20 PM
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MOSCOW, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Russia is highlighting some of its most advanced fighter aircraft at Moscow's MAKS-2013 air show. After energy, armaments remain the Russian Federation's most popular exports.

The fifth-generation jet combat aircraft on display and performing aerial acrobatics include the Sukhoi T-50 PAKFA and Sukhoi Su-35S multirole fighter jets.

The MAKS-2013 air show opens Tuesday in the Moscow regional town of Zhukovsky, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Thursday.

The Sukhoi Su-35S is a Russian heavy class, long-range, multi-role one-seat fighter, developed from the original Su-27 air superiority fighter. The Russian air force has taken delivery of 48 Su-35s. Visitors to the Paris Air Show in June were treated to a display of the Su-35S's impressive aerobatics, including a demonstration of the extraordinary Pugachev's Cobra maneuver. Sukhoi claims the aircraft can "successfully counter" full-fledged fifth-generation U.S. jet fighters, Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor.

The Su-35S has a maximum speed of 1,500 mph, similar to the F-22 Raptor and has an operational range of 1,940 nautical miles at high altitude. The Su-35S is also equipped with an infra-red search and track system that could conceivably be used to detect stealth aircraft within a reported range of roughly 50 miles.

The first T-50 flew in January 2010. The T-50's design incorporates advanced sensors, including an Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, a hallmark of modern stealth jets. While the T-50 isn't quite as stealthy as the United States' F-22 Raptor, which became operational in 2005, against which it's designed to compete, Russian engineers aeronautical reportedly decided to trade stealth for superior maneuverability over the F-22. Sukhoi plans to offer an export version of the T-50 for sale around the world as a competitor to the U.S.-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the only other stealth jet that is currently being marketed worldwide. Sukhoi is also collaborating with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. to develop a twin-seat version of the T-50 for the Indian air force that would enter production around 2020.

The potential market for the T-50 is substantial. The Russian air force's frontal aviation units have a requirement for 250-300 fifth-generation tactical fighters, while the Indian air force is looking for 200-250 similar aircraft. Speaking to journalists in June 2010, the Russian Federation's then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said roughly $1.3 billion had been spent on developing the T-50. Putin added that "a similar amount" was to be added to the project, which would result in a front-line aircraft costing half to two-thirds less than Washington paid for its F-22 Raptors.

Other Russian cutting edge aeronautical designs on display at the MAKS-2013 air show include Russian Helicopters presenting its new medium multi-role Mi-171A2 helicopter. The Mi-171A2, one of the most eagerly anticipated new models of Russia's aviation industry, incorporates the latest technologies, building upon on the many years of operational experience of its Mi-8/17 series of helicopters. Russian Helicopters intends to complete certification of the Mi-171A2 to the flight worthiness standards of the Aviation Register of the Interstate Aviation Committee next year, with customer deliveries scheduled to begin in 2015.

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