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the PAK-FA/FGFA begins in 2015 - the target date set for the delivery of
the first series aircraft. Sukhoi’s director Mikhail Pogosyan on his part said
he was convinced that the project would “excel its Western rivals in cost-
effectiveness and will not only allow strengthening of the defence power
of the Russian and Indian air forces, but also gain a significant share of the
Originally scheduled for 2007, the T-50’s maiden flight was repeatedly
postponed because of technical problems. True. Embarking on an openly
new project was strenuous for the Sukhoi design bureau. According to
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) chairman A.K. Baweja, shortly after the
India-Russia Inter-Governmental Committee meeting of September 2008—
where plans were set to develop a common fifth generation fighter plane—
it was decided that two separate prototypes with maximum common
technology would be developed, one by Russia (designated the Sukhoi
T-50) and a separate one by India (designated FGFA). The bilateral process
required more time to start. With a classic aerodynamic layout resembling
the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor, the T-50 is however somewhat smaller
and lighter. Its much scaled down horizontal and vertical control surfaces
reflect the fact that the series aircraft will use vectored thrust for pitch,
yaw and roll control. Workshare between Sukhoi and HAL has been split
according to each constructor’s speciality in specific fields. Russia will
develop the aircraft’s systems, radar, radiocoms, powerplants, internally-
carried weaponry and all hydraulics while India shall concentrate on the
aircraft’s on-board mission computers and their critical software, as well
as most of the “glass-cockpit”lay-out, navigation systems and design part
of the ECM suite, based on their experience with various western-made
aircraft. The Russian prototype will be a single-seater; the Indian FGFA a
two-seater, analogous in style to the Su-30MKI which is a twin seat variant
of the baseline Su-30 in service with the Indian Air Force.
The PAK-FA T-50 is powered by a pair of NPO Saturn“Item 117S”
development engines revealed at the 2009 MAKS air show at Zhukovsky.
A derivative of the long-serving AL-31F of the Sukhoi Su-27, this new
powerplant (still without a series designation) has been designed with a
new high-pressure compressor and higher-temperature turbine to support a
notable increase in reheated thrust, Evguenii Marchukov and Serguei Novikov
of NPO (Lyulka) Saturn revealed this January on Vesti television in Moscow.
Moreover much has been made, said NPO Saturn, to increase the engine
MTBO and lifespan; quite a novelty for a Russian powerplant indeed! The
PAK-FA also features a supercruise mode (supersonic cruise without reheat).
This demanding technological pick required a move away from the Su-30’s
singular in-line integral triplane configuration to more classic aerodynamics
better suited to high trans-sonic flight. The T-50’s high thrust-to-weight
ratio coupled with full vectored thrust, like on the Indian Air Force Su-
30MKI, is designed to confer great agility in combat and improve short-field
performance, including operations from 300-400 m (1,000-1,300 ft) runways.
Just like the F-22, the PAK-FA has been designed to carry weapons
internally, including the large and very lethal Brahmos Mach 3 cruise
missile—an Indo-Russian joint venture. Interestingly and contrary to the
F-22 side bays, which are said to reduce aircraft discretion when open,
Sukhoi has designed for the T-50 a stealthier long canoe-shaped bomb-bay
snugged flat between the two engines. The Sukhoi company’s managers
declared on television that the jet’s stealth features will considerably
enhance its combat effectiveness. The T-50’s ability to use short take-off
strip of just 300-400 metres was well demonstrated on Russian television.
For sure the emergence of the new Sukhoi T-50 fighter will start making
European combat aircraft such as the Gripen, Eurofighter and Rafale seem
almost passé. In addition, it surely will give more momentum to U.S .
aircraft advanced programmes—beginning with the JSF.
VLADIMIR PUTIN’S OWN SUCCESS
Right now Sukhoi said it is completing T-50 drawings with a view to
producing the aircraft at the KnAAPO and NAPO production plants soon
enough. KnAAPO in Konsomol’sk-on -Amur will lead the industrial phase,
with NAPO in Novosibirsk as a major supplier. NAPO general director
Fiodor Zhdanov declared on Russian television that his plant will make the
nose section: “The airplane will have many parts made of carbon plastic,” he
said. The flagships of the Russian aerospace technology—Tekhnokompleks
Scientific and Production Center, Ramenskoye Instrument Building Design
Bureau, the Instrument Building Scientific Research Institute in Zhukovskiy,
the Ural’sk Optical and Mechanical Plant in Yekaterinburg, the Poliot firm in
Nizhniy Novgorod and the Central Scientific Research Radio Engineering
Institute in Moscow—were selected to develop the complex new avionics
suite for the fifth-generation airplane. The Komsomol’sk-on-Amur Chkalov
plant is where most Sukhoi fighters are produced today; the new Sukhoi SJ
100 regional jet is also built there.
The PAK-FA T-50 fifth generation fighter, along with Sukhoi’s new
Superjet 100 regional jet portray the new start of Russian aviation. A
new beginning in which Vladimir Putin, both as President of the Russian
Federation and now as Prime Minister, personally invested all of his
influence. The result of a close cooperation between Sukhoi and Western
companies (Alenia, Boeing and Safran), the Superjet 100 has been described
by experts as the most important and successful civil aircraft programme
of the Russian aerospace industry. It enjoys considerable support from the
Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, which regards it as a top priority
project. Over 30 foreign partnership companies are involved in the project.
Development, manufacturing and marketing of the plane’s new generation
SaM146 jet engine is being done by PowerJet (a JV between Snecma of
France and Russia’s NPO Saturn). Both KnAAPO, in the Russian Far East,
and NAPO in Novosibirsk have been heavily investing in upgrading their
facilities, and are expected to produce 70 SJ100 airframes by 2012. At a
$29 million catalogue price, the SJ 100 comes out as a real competitor to
the high-priced Airbus A318 and Boeing 737-600. So far 149 SJ100s are on
order, plus 84 options; from Russian companies, but also from EU airlines.
SCAC foresees some 800 sales for its Superjet 100 during this decade.
Four SJ100 prototypes are already flying toward their certification said last
February Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk, CEO SCAC,“With four prototypes in the
certification programme, we will be able to deliver 75 flights monthly, which
is a very good figure in the global practice of flight certification campaigns.
We are hoping for a Type Certificate in middle 2010”.
At a price tag somewhere below $100 million per
copy, it is likely that Sukhoi and HAL should secure
soon enough more orders.
DRA MARCH KAT V2.indd 12
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