Fighter Porn: Russia’s PAK FA Stealth Jet

Check out these gorgeous photos of Russia’s two Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA stealth fighters. The shot above clearly shows the second test aircraft, T-50-02, equipped with mission systems (notice what might be an electronic warfare mounting protruding from the tail) followed by the first aircraft, T-50-01, that’s being used to test out the airframe design. Both jets are sporting a new camouflage paint scheme and this may be T-50-02’s first flight in roughly four months. The Russian fighter supposedly sacrifices stealth for greater maneuverability against western fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The next couple of photos show the T-50 and the wildly-painted Su-35S as they may be preparing for the MAKS 2011 airshow in Moscow.

Look at this last photo of the T-50 where the airplane bears a resemblance to the YF-23 Black Window; Northrop’s losing competitor to Lockheed’s F-22 in the Advanced Tactical Fighter contest.

Keep in mind that Sukhoi is already planning on co-producing the jet with India and South Korea recently expressed interest in the plane, making the PAK FA the first foreign competitor to U.S. stealth jets on the international market. If the Russians can keep costs down and production on schedule it may well provide stiff competition for the F-35 as nations seek to acquire 5th-generation fighter technology.

  • Davey

    Wow Roy, you really don’t know anything. Consider the fact that maneuverability is only as good as the G’s a pilot can withstand…which isn’t anywhere near what the aircraft can withstand. Plus, I would like to see that POS maneuver around the avionic and weapons systems the US has. An F-4 could take that damn thing outa the Air before the Russians could even see it. And BTW, the Obog system on the fighters are fixed. Now get back to work and stop bloggin

    • Roy Smith

      You didn’t get the sarcasm about the fact that our F-22’s & F-35’s are grounded? We can’t prove s**t as long as our stealth fighters are on the ground,which,the last thing I heard,was still the case. I was also going to add,”I’d like to see their jets go against our hypersonic glider……..uh,as soon as we find it(the hypersonic glider).” I’m very sure our “outdated” F-15’s & F-16’s can handle themselves quite well against these Russian planes,along with the “non-stealth” F/A-18 Super Hornet,& the “inferior” Eurofighter Typhoon,Dassault Rafale,& Saab Gripen. I just wonder when we’ll see the F-22 [back] & F-35 [finally] in the air?

    • David

      Sorry Davey, but you are mistaken on a few things, but the one I’ll point out is that the OBOG is still inop and the F-22A is still down for the count. You’re probably thinking of the IPP on the F-35 that has been addressed and the aircraft are now cleared for ground tests once again, but they are still grounded pending the ground test results.

  • Roy Smith

    “The Russian fighter supposedly sacrifices stealth for greater maneuverability against western fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

    Well,that’s not saying much right now since our “cutting edge” stealth fighters ARE GROUNDED seemingly indefinitely.

  • Davey

    The Northrop YF-23 aircraft was superior in every way to the “Craptor”. The US needed to ensure Lockheed didn’t go under so they purchased it. But just copying the appearance of the airframe doesn’t mean squat.

  • George

    QUOTE – “The Russian fighter supposedly sacrifices stealth for greater maneuverability against western fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

    Well it certainly doesn’t sacrifice maneuverability for stealth like the F-35 does. If the F-35 gets involved in a dogfight with anything from the F-16/MiG-29 upwards it’s bye-bye…

    • Black Skunk

      George, please get informed before saying nonsenses.

      • superraptor

        unless somebody has some info that the F-35 will be able to carry 6 AAMs internally, it will be quite teethless for Air-to-Air combat and even an SU-35 could take it out.

        • Ben

          Considering the F-22 can carry 6 AMRAAMs internally and the F-35 was designed to carry a larger payload than the F-22, I highly doubt the F-35 would be able to carry any LESS than the 6 AAMs.

          Payload aside, it only takes one good missile to make a kill.

          • MCQknight

            The F-35 was designed to only carry two air-to-air missiles internally when only carrying bombs and 4 air-to-air when in an air-superiority role. In order to carry 6 or more it has to use its external hardpoints which negates its stealth effects.

          • Ben

            I haven’t been able to find any official listings of any internal loadout configurations.

            Though even 4 wouldn’t be bad, considering the whole aircraft is more lethal than anything of previous generations. Theoretically you should be able to do more with less.

          • Joe Schmoe

            Except that the AIM-120 has a nearly 25% failure rate (one fourth of your missile load gone already) and only a pK (kill percentage) of 0.51% (i.e.- only 1 in 2 missiles will hit).

            So far all intent and purposes, statistically speaking the F-35 will only be able to maybe shoot down one enemy with it’s maximum air-air load.

          • citanon

            Heavens no, not just one enemy. I mean, the Air Force and the Navy will only have TWO THOUSAND of them……

            Even by these numbers, one fighter per sortie with a clean getaway is pretty good if achievable, IMO.

          • Curt

            And just think, the AIM-120 is vastly superior in all aspects to the Russian and Chinese missiles. So, given greater stealth capability, better electronics, and better missiles, 4 AIM-120s will equal 6 or even 8 AAMs of Chinese or Russian manufacture. And of course, the F-35 will also carry the AIM-9X so the world isn’t riding on the AIM-120.

          • Stratege

            R-77 is not inferior to the AIM-120. Soviet middile range a-a missile was developed later and it had some advantages over original AMRAAM.
            Today Russians developed ramjet version of the R-77 with a all new electronics package and with longer range compared to the latest AIM-120D. Also, they has new R-37M (ultra-long range missile with a range up to ~300 km). Those missiles could be fitted in PAK-FA’s internal weapons bays.

          • superraptor

            the F-35 cannot carry the Aim9X internally either, so it remains toothless. I am sure it could carry 6 AAMs internally, but you need to have funding to implement such capability and I cannot find anything that it is in the works. So forget about its Interceptor capability against The PAK T-50 or J-20 which will carry 8 to 10 AAMs internally. Good night US air surperiority.

    • William C.

      Yet it can match the F-16, an aircraft which only thrust-vectoring designs have a serious edge over in terms of maneuverability. Yes it won’t match a F-22, F-15, Su-35, or EF-2000 in the high altitude, high speeds regime, but that’s the reason why we are supposed to have larger air-superiority focused aircraft.

    • Ben

      @George

      That’s why we’ve developed high off-boresight missiles in conjunction with helmet mounted displays. As quote I remember reading from Lockheed Martin goes: “maneuvering is irrelevant”

      I say the F-35 will be a success once matured.

      • MCQknight

        They’ve been saying “manuering is irrelevant” since before Vietnam. The countermeasures always catch up, though.

      • FtD

        if you allow someone to get on your six, unless you can twist you head 180deg to get a lock on, the enemy has more opportunity to cause damage than you can on to them.

    • STemplar

      If an F35 winds up in a dog fight with anything a whole lot of other things have gone very wrong and we are probably pooch screwed anyway.

    • Matt

      How would a non-stealth design even get close enough to get into a dogfight w/the F35? Others have already stated the F35 could hold it’s own in close w/it’s HMD/avionics/missles.

    • STemplar

      If it is in a dog fight then a great many other things have gone very wrong.

    • George

      I’ll just quote P.Sprey and W.Wheeler:
      “At 49,500 pounds air-to-air take-off weight and 42,000 pounds of engine thrust, it will be a significant step backward in thrust-to-weight ratio for a new fighter. With only 460 square feet of wing area, wing loading will be a whopping 108 pounds per square foot. That makes the F-35 even less maneuverable than the appalling F-105 “Lead Sled” that got wiped out over North Vietnam.”
      Plus it’s well known that the marine’s version only gets 7.5G structural limit.

      It’s old news that the F-35 is an ugly fat pig you can only put so much lipstick on.

      @Ben As for the off-boresight missile lock that’s something the Israelis have had for ~10 years now as do the Russians. It would have made a difference if nobody else had it.

      The Lockheed quote is just plain daft – it presupposes nobody will get close enough to the platform to threaten it but if (for example) you scramble for interception against an enemy who took a nap-of-the earth road up your airbase then all bets are off.

      • saberhagen

        Funny to see tons of people pretend to be expert. Back to the basic, could you tell us what’s the point of maneuverability? Do you understand its essence or you just hear people talk about it?

        Israel, Rus have HMD, off-bore..but they dont have DAS

  • SuperiorIQ

    These Russian pieces of crap are good only for air shows but have little value in real air-combat scenario against western fighters, as history has always demonstrated. The western fighters are by far superior in terms of stealth technology, avionics, weapons systems, combat tactics, pilot training, etc. than the Russian crappy ones.

  • Tony C

    This is a clean design, not as stealthy as the F-22A in the engine nacelles, but
    it will evade radar from the other aspects for awhile. The F-22A is designed to
    penetrate integrated air defenses, this one is designed to get as close as possible without detection. That doesn’t mean it won’t get shot down, but it will give the air defenses less time to acquire and track them. Stealth is expensive, so it remains to
    be seen how many of these get purchased outside of Russia and India?

  • BOB

    It’s my understanding that maneuverability means just about jack-sh*t considering that missiles are fired from so far away and at high speeds. Especially when you consider that the even the F-18’s computers limit the craft’s maneuverability so as not to kill the pilot with extreme G’s. (Don’t flame me if I’m wrong, just correct me). I mean, isn’t stuff like the movie Top-Gun complete crap?

    • Stratege

      A-a missiles has a limited fuel, worst maneuverability at the terminal stage. They could be avoided/dodged/outmaneuvered. Radar (which used for missile guidance) could be jammed.
      Aircraft maneuverability is not about only G-limit.

  • anon

    “…bears a resemblance to the YF-23…”

    Superficially, and even then only in the tail fins.

  • RunningBear

    I’m not much on Ruski planes but you have lost me with this title? Care to expand it into English or other hieroglyphs, etc.? Sorry to ask for the help!

  • Andrew

    Won’t make any assumptions about its performance but it is a pretty damn beautiful aircraft. Always liked the SU designs though (or should I say design since the 27).

    Would be pretty interesting to see Russia show up at Red Flag with a few (never will happen, I know)

    • Waiting.

      Invite them.

      And challenge their best pilot to arrive in a Su-47, not in a measly PAK FA.

    • Praetorian

      The U.S. has flown against the SU-30MKI from India, with mixed results.

      • jhm

        Yup. In dogfights, it was pretty formidable, but the Indians wouldnt utilize their radars in all modes so almost no BVR engagements.

  • Black Owl

    The Russians know how to make planes very well, at least ones that don’t pump toxic fumes into the pilot’s breathing apparatus. I can’t wait to see the T-50 in action.

    • Ben

      They make them good, we make them better. I’m betting the Russians have their fair share of technical problems, too. We’re just more forthcoming about ours.

      But agreed. I can’t wait to see ANY 5th Gen. aircraft in action. Nobody really knows the extent of a platform’s effectiveness until it’s had time in the field.

    • jhm

      Dont forget about teh pilots :)

  • Roy Smith

    The F-22 is the “Peyton Manning” of fighter jets……oh wait,Peyton is unable to play this season because he had neck surgery. Could you imagine the logic of saying that the Colts aren’t playing Peyton because they haven’t played against a team that warrants his use in the game as QB? But that is the logic being used in this thread about why we haven’t used the F-22 in combat yet.

    As far as the F-35 goes,NO fighter pilot will ever become an ace flying it. It is nothing but a sexed up,faster,prettier F-117A Nighthawk,whose mission it is replacing(the F-35C is a glorified sexed up,faster,prettier “stealth” A-6 Intruder). The F-35 is nothing more than a “glorified” bomb hauler & ground attack aircraft.

    • Ben

      Haha, I wouldn’t use Peyton Manning if I knew I didn’t have to in order to win! He costs too damn much! The same goes for the F-22. It’s a very smart move not to use it for fly swatting.

      And as far as the F-35 goes, I have no clue where you’ve been getting the information you’re basing your opinions on. That’s a bit ridiculous.

    • jhm

      remember the f16? everyone said it was crap and wasnt needed. well, look at its history :)

  • Roland

    Just buy one of their best fighter stealth ighter jets and make modifications on our best stealth fighter jets.

  • chaos0xomega

    I just want to point out that people really can’t talk about inferior Russian technology, etc. During the height of Soviet power/prior to the 80s the Russians could easily build aircraft and other tech the equivalent of ours, in some cases superior,in some cases inferior. Overall they were roughly on par with us. The concept of ‘Russian tech is junk and held together by bird droppings and rust’ didn’t really come around until the last decade or two of Soviet rule… as the country began collapsing and crumbling into ruin (more or less). Its been 20 years, things change, and Russia has been slowly clawing its way out of the pit it found itself in. A lot can change in 20 years, it only took Japan 20-30 years to go from a feudal backwater to a world power.

    What I am saying is don’t underestimate one of our oldest adversaries.

  • saberhagen

    LOL so other kind of planes can rely on their fancy kinematic capability to escape missile. RIGHT. Who need stealth, EW, planning, SEAD…when you can just fly around and have fun with the missile. Right, thanks for your expertise, genius.

  • New camoflauge paint job for “Transformers 4: Decepticons Revenge”

  • Andrew

    Regardless of the fighter’s actual characteristics, on time and within budget are highly unlikely. $50 says this thing isn’t produced en masse for another ten years, allowing for the already-outdated avionics to become thoroughly obsolete.

  • OliSki

    All these comments are hypotheticals when you factor in the US pilots, the electronics, support structure etc the US aircrafts are basically untouchable air to air dog fights could be rendered obsolete with 360 degree rotating sidewinder turret. The missiles could incorporate new thrust tech and become more compact. Enemy at 3:00 boom. Enemy at 6:00 boom just like a phalanx. Also by incorporating drones becomes an extension like a tree branch that let’s you know where what and when before it even materializes. The US leads the way and pace at which military tech materializes

  • jhm

    can anyone tell me the pak fas radar? stealth and performance is all that, but i think the radar will also be a defining part obviously. the f22s radar is downright amazing. think about locking on to other fighters with alerting them of a radar lock. damn

    • Stratege

      Domestic PAK-FA’s radar configuration:

      Newly developed radar system Sh-121 for PAK-FA program:
      5 radars. One main X-band AESA (~1500 elements) + two side-looking x-band AESA radars + two L-band transmitters/receivers (those L-band are probably for ECM and reconnaissance role, the rumors saying that those are “anti-stealth” radars ).

      PAK-FA’s armament on internal hardpoints:

      – short-range missile RVV-MD (new development for PAK-FA program)
      – middle-range RVV-SD (new developments for PAK-FA program)
      – ultra-long range missile (the R-73’s sucessor) RVV-BD on internal hardpoints
      – cruise missiles in interal bays and on external hardpoints
      – air-to-ground missiles / bombs

  • Roy Smith

    In today’s bad economy,where congress is looking for any excuse to cut money & programs,the fact that the F-22 wasn’t ready for use in the early stages of the Libyan bombing campaign looks very bad for it. The argument that the F-22 is too expensive to use in such a “meaningless” campaign falls right into the argument that the F-22 is just an expensive white elephant without a mission. The present Libyan conflict gave the Eurofighter & Rafale a chance to shine & all of the talking heads noticed, They also noticed the conspicuous absence of the F-22. Like I said before,use it or lose it. If we decide to engage in an aerial campaign against Syria,like NATO is doing in Libya,the F-22 better be there & involved in the campaign. People are watching.

  • Ryan

    By the time this reaches service, all manned fighters will be for the most part obsolete. A ucav will be better in almost all regards. No pilot means no life support, display set ups, interface (in the plane), ejector seat, improved shape ( no need for a cockpit), no limit to the gs it can pull other than those of the airframe. Also you have “fearless” pilots, cause they have nothing to fear other than breaking some equipment. If he does, the pilot gets to learn, and get better. Build a high end fighter or fighter bomber like that and you’ve got a virtually guaranteed winner.

  • Stratege

    There’re no reason for Russians to equip PAK-FA with “already-outdated avionics”.
    PAK-FA got newly developed flight control system, avionics, HUD, IRST, radars and weapons systems. Flying prorotypes has “all new” looking c()ckpit, which is not resemblance of anything seen before in Russian air force (photos available). The pilots of the serial production PAK-FA should got the new “intellectual” helmet, new “intellectual” anti-G suite (fully integraded into the FCS).
    You should understand that PAK-FA program is much more than just a new airframe designed by Sukhoi.

  • FtD

    i’m sure Russians will not pussy foot on squeezing for R&D money aka LockMart, they rather get the plane finished & starting making in quantity & sell to other countries that’s where they get the profits from as they know there’s no money from the government anyway….

  • Anon

    Going to have crack at this like the rest of the armchair experts commenting here.

    The PAK-FA and the Chiense equivalent will beat the F-22 in combat. Simple. The F-22 was a platform developed through the 80s/90s and in-service early 2000s to defeat 80s/90s era Sov/Russian platforms. It is now the 2010s and both of the Russian/Chinese will come into service with the advantages of a decade+ of tech improvements and healthier defence budgets (both Russia and especially China, have money to burn). Both opposing platforms can carry more weapons to boot.

    Really the US has to look now at building the next platform, that would beat the PAK-FA and Chinese version. The F-35 is not it, with its limited stealth and performance (its still only in the same envelope as the teen series). With the US planning at least a $400 billion defence spending cut over the next decade then this is not really going to happen any time soon.

  • Tom White

    As to whether this PAK FA is better/worse than F-22, you must realize that a plane is only part of a greater battlefield system. Combat is never just about plane vs plane, but infrastructure vs infrastructure. A plane is only as good as it’s logistical support, guidance from the top, it’s pilot, etc.

    For example, if America fielded the PAK FA while Russia instead fielded the F-22, the PAK FA may become a better plane because of superior command and control, support systems, and so on on the American’s behalf.

  • The F-35 is optimised as a ground-attack oriented aircraft and wasn’t meant to perform air-to-air. This means that the F-35s orientation is offensive rather than defensive.

    • blight

      Ground attack is relevant for close air support and ground interdiction on defense as well. Tell it to the former VNAF which never went on the “offensive” against North Vietnam.

  • blight

    I’m surprised the Air Force hasn’t moved towards new low-observable casings (and mounting hardware) for current air to air missiles. It would solve the internal loading problem if it could be done…

  • Alony

    I think the Pak-Fa will be a very successful fighter but it will not get exported beyond Russia and India anytime soon. Also i highly doubt we have the money to field thousands of F-35’s as some believe. We had a plan of getting like 600-700 F-22’s we have less then 200 made. so cut the 2000 F-35 order by 2/3rd’s and ull get a good figure what we can afford.

  • Aedan

    Americans need to accept the concept of they are not superior at everything. The PAK FA is already superior to the F-22 and is still in development. I honestly believe that ‘stealth’ is obsolete; modern RADAR systems can detect stealth aircraft with good range and relatively high resolution. The PAK FA and SU-35BM can outmaneuver US AIM-120 AMRAAMs. The Russian BVR missiles are faster, more accurate and have greater range. The PAK FA will see the F-22 first, shoot first and then do it again to another F-22.

  • Aedan

    Besides, nobody will beat Russia because it will just flex its muscles of nuclear weapons.

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