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Video: Russia’s Third Stealth Jet Flies

For more Thanksgiving week entertainment, check  out this video of Russia’s third stealth fighter making one of its very first flights. The video below shows the third Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA flying recently, nearly two years after the very first T-50 made its first flight. Remember,  Russia is hoping to get the jet, designed to be a less stealthy but more maneuverable competitor to the F-22 Raptor, into service by the middle of the decade. India has already signed off to build about 200 of the jets under license. South Korea and even Venezuela are reportedly interested in the jet, too.

Remember that the second PAK FA suffered an engine flame-out at the Moscow air show earlier this year (that’s the second jet shown above). That came after the jet was grounded for months following its initial flights. It’s going to be interesting to see how fast Sukhoi can get the stealth jet to the international market — and if it does, how much of a competitor to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will it prove to be?

Click through the jump for the video:

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

David Gevorgyan November 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm

The video is lame. It shows the footage of T-50's very first flights.

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tribulationtime November 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I think so

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Stratege November 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

No.
The takeoff, landing and flight episodes are clearly being used from the footage with a T-50-3 late flight.

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mhmm... November 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Well they are definitely going faster then the JSF in building them. lol

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jhm November 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm

how so? they have built 3 so far and we have about 13 f35s right now?

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mhmm... November 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm

And how long have we been working on the F35?

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 1:20 am

The PAK-FA program began had in early 2000's

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mhmm... November 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Did it really?
These are the first three flying prototypes. Maybe they are add screwed up as US procurement

Michael November 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm

It's a pity they couldn't get the plasma stealth function working. I hope Iran can be allowed to buy a bunch of these too.

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IronV November 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Exqueeze me? You HOPE Iran buys these? There's a great idea. Put 5th gen fighters into the hands of religious totalitarian lunatics…

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jhm November 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm

then the suk pak fa will rain death on the russians in the future ironically. ever notice tons of russian soldiers get killed by weapons designed by their country men? I know there's lots of exceptions in the western world, but still, the russians should take care when supplyn certain people with all sorts of weapons, especially countries that on religious whim attack certain superpowers. in the 80's "the big red bear is the source of satan!"
then the 90's and current day, " oh the bear is hypernating, so the eagle with arrows and lightning is the coutnry of satan!"

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jhm November 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm

and i know the usa does the same thing, with teh stingers in afghanistan and etc

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Sanem November 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm

"religious totalitarian lunatics"

you mean Texans?

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Ben November 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

You HOPE Iran can buy some T-50s? Why exactly?

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Tim November 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm

It's still an airframe without a 5th generation jet engine with no signs of advanced avionics as promised. Nothing on this jet proved it's capable as advertised… yet.

As of now, the JSF is being produced at a steady pace. It will be a few more years for the T-50 to be ready for full production. That is if they can meet all their ambitious goals.

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zman537 November 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

with the super Debt people failing there goals. I doubt the the JSF program will keep going. I think it will get chopped just like the F22 did.

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Lance November 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Will be out in 5 years who knows but its got a long way to go before production.

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Black Owl November 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I think the Russians will get the PAK-FA up and running before the U.S. can get the F-35 in production. The Russians have always been reliable in making advanced production fighters. This is primarily because the Russian concept of weapons design relies on making a plane over-built, unlike the west which makes planes over-designed.

The PAK-FA design follows this thinking with the exception of the engines being highly complex. Russia's jet engine industry has shown a few cracks in its ability to keep up with the growing demands of new Russian fighters.

This problem is still marginal in comparison to the F-35 series, which are still suffering from major design flaws. We have put well over $300 billion into these jets as a whole, the largest amount of money ever put into any weapons system in history. The F-35B alone has had around $100 billion put into it and it is still breaking apart with new cracks in the air frame when we fly it and we know that further testing will reveal MORE problems. We don't even know the extent of difficulty that the new problems will create when we find them.

The F-22 is without doubt the highest performing fighter in the U.S. arsenal, but it's extremely maintenance intensive and expensive. The F-22 is such a hanger queen that it honestly wouldn't surprise me if the news about it being grounded from a failed oxygen system turned out to be a ploy by the Air Force to save money and avoid embarrassment.

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So? November 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

In aerospace every gram counts. The SU always lagged the US in structural efficiency. So something had to be sacrificed. Airframe longevity, TWR, range - pick 2. Now thanks to having easier access to Western precision machinery and components, some say Sukhoi has caught up.

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 1:53 am

"The PAK-FA design follows this thinking with the exception of the engines being highly complex. Russia's jet engine industry has shown a few cracks in its ability to keep up with the growing demands of new Russian fighters. "____The new so-called "the second-stage engine" for the PAK-FA will probably be finished not earlier than 2015/2016. It will be featured with a significantly increased thrust, stealthy nozzles, increased service life.__I don't think that todays Russian jet engine industry can't keep up with the growing demans of new fighter jets. Their products from the current line have decent service life, reliability and very good thrust rates with additional features like a 3D TVC.

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 1:56 am

"The PAK-FA design follows this thinking with the exception of the engines being highly complex. Russia's jet engine industry has shown a few cracks in its ability to keep up with the growing demands of new Russian fighters. "

The new so-called "the second-stage engine" for the PAK-FA will probably be finished not earlier than 2015/2016. It will be featured with a significantly increased thrust, stealthy nozzles, increased service life.
I don't think that todays Russian jet engine industry can't keep up with the growing demans of new fighter jets. Their products from the current line have decent service life, reliability and very good thrust rates with additional features like a 3D TVC.

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wpnexp November 23, 2011 at 4:23 am

Maybe you missed the news, but the F-35 has been approved for its third year of low rate initial production. The 1st training squadron is already forming and has recieved 6 aircraft not in addition to test aircraft at Edwards and Pax River. Seems like the 1st operational squadron level aircraft should be arriving in 2013, next year I imagine. While IOC is likely several years away, that is not to say that they won't be able to operate in combat in 2014 if needed, if not earlier. I noticed weapons fit checks are being made, in preparation for firing trials soon to occur, which will give the plane its true operational qualities.

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Black Owl November 23, 2011 at 11:25 am

I have read that news before, but that still does not underscore the major technical problems with the F-35. That was a dumb decision by the Air Force to start buying them because they are afraid that the F-35 program will get cancelled and they needed to find some way of slowing that down.

The F-35s are still cracking apart when we fly them and we have not completed testing them yet. To field a squadron of untested malfunctioning warplanes in combat would be a terrible decision.

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jhm November 26, 2011 at 9:14 pm

they are? cracking apart? can you show me a link. I ddnt know it was that bad.

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Black Owl November 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/new-cra…

Diallo November 24, 2011 at 2:11 am

it's not a ploy, although I'm sure the Air Force did save money not having them fly.

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Stratege November 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Tim wrote
"It's still an airframe without a 5th generation jet engine"

The existing engine fits basic requirements for the 5th generation engine (thurst, supercruise capability, service life, FADEC), according to the NPO Saturn (engine manufacturer).

Tim wrote
"Nothing on this jet proved it's capable as advertised… yet."

Sure, because those jets are still early test machines.

Tim wrote
"with no signs of advanced avionics as promised."

Well, the avionics and other equipment are totally new (even T-50's c()ckpit looks way different compared for instance to the Su-35).

T-50-3 should be used for aerial tests of radars system - mainly the testing of central AESA radar.

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jhm November 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm

well just stating the names such as NPO saturn doesnt help ur case. just cause a cockpit looks special really doesnt mean anything but i get ur point. however, tim does have a valid pt. the engine of the suk pak fa has no stealthy characteristics on it and quite frankly the service life of many russian fighters are a bit lacking. the mig 29s all over the world are a prime example of this, having to be continually replaced or mass maintained as their airframes started coming apart. maybe the russians hv learned a lesson from then, but not likely.

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 3:34 am

So what is your point? Russians have invested $billions into their developments for the PAK-FA program. The program consist of not only new airframe design, but mostly of other sophisticated developments such as: radars, IRST, avionics, ETC, new missiles, life support systems…
The current engine is intermediate.
The days when Mig-29's engine had short life engine have gone gone long time ago. The service life of modern days Russian engine "117S" (Su-30, Su-35) is of 4000 flight hours.

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jhm November 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm

not just short engine life, but also airframe life
wasnt that why india procurred the mirage 2000s? engines compared to the actual airframe are easily replaceable.

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So? November 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm

FWIW, the intakes are way oversized for the current engine.

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 2:34 am

The intakes were designed for T-50's "the second-stage engine" (aka "Izdelie 129"), which will be very air-hungry. Considering that they have the goal to get really fearsome thrust 107kN/176kN (dry thrust / thrust with afterburner).

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blight2 November 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

They'll probably crank out tons of second rate export models to pay for the R&D of The Real Deal.

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Backpack November 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm

One thing’s for sure, they’ll sell more of these to countries which are not our allies than we’ll sell F22s to countries which are. As for the F35, it’s made for a different role so the comparison is of limited worth, but I think the F35s would lose a dogfight on numbers. Of more importance is how these things stack up against our legacy fighters and allies’ Typhoons, etc.

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Riceball November 23, 2011 at 10:48 am

That's not really saying much considering that the F-22 line has pretty much been closed and Congress has yet to authorize a single foreign sale of the F22.

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Mike December 21, 2011 at 8:50 am

If they sell one, that is more than we will sell to our allies. The line is closed. But, Lockheed will certainly wait until the 2012 election in hopes of starting up again.

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Patrick McKinstry November 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Pretty cool looking, though. Kinda looks like it was influenced by the Northrop YF-23. Could that be so?

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DEWright_CA November 22, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Yes, it has been compared that there are several key design aspects that bare extreme design concept from the YF-23; some elements do correspond to the 22 as well; so in a good design view they married strong elements of both for the core airframe.

Based on DIA investigations back in the late 90s they was hints that design information may have bled out of NGs facilities to other ATF parties that then had it stolen by foreign powers.

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 3:03 am

Actually, PAK FA have by far more Flanker's DNA in its design/concept than anything American. Look at those widely separated engines, stinger, large lifting body (massive centroplane).
The new Russian fighter clearly looks like an evolution of Flanker family with sizable paid attention to the trends in stealth design. I don't think that Sukhoi's experienced designers have used stolen plans to design their own next gen. fighter jet.

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 3:36 am

Those guys are not the Chinese to begin with.

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jhm November 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm

hey, anyone know whether or not the pak fa will have a ram coating?

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DEWright_CA November 22, 2011 at 8:53 pm

All signs point to a yes; now if they have created there own; or stole a formula from NG or LMC or BAC is another question. The russians got there hands on F117 parts/debris from the one that went down so they have some samples of some older; who knows if they have B-2 or F-22/F-35 samples.

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 2:09 am

Apparently, any sort of RAM coating is not applied on those early prototypes.
But i am sure that they have their own coating in their labs. Soviets (and then Russians) developed various types of radar-absorbent materials and paints.

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So? November 23, 2011 at 2:47 am

http://tinyurl.com/6vsyztf

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So? November 23, 2011 at 2:47 am

No RAM, but the finish looks better?

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 4:01 am

Not RAM yet, but composite materials.
The Senior constructor of Sukhoi Bureau said in interview that percentage of composites materials used on T-50's airframe surface is ~70%. That's pretty similar numbers which are claimed for F-22.

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superraptor November 22, 2011 at 10:58 pm

this plane will smoke the F-35. It is time to limit the F-35 program, ie cut production down to a few jets a year and avoid concurreny until the design is mature. Limit the buy to no more than 500 total, develop an upgraded sl larger F-22 and build 250 of them and supplement the rest of the USAF and USNAVY with new F-16s and SHs with all the 4.5 gen trimmings (that should do for 2nd tier conflicts), keep fielding UCAVs, develop the JDRAM more quickly. we would have more firepower for less money. With the budget cuts coming we need to abandon the F-35 too big to fail fantasy

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dxa November 22, 2011 at 11:09 pm

This plane wont smoke the F-35. People like superraptor dont know the true force of American Air Force. My family has been in the Air Force. Its like a tradition. Do you know that they have LASERS on C-130's. If the C-130 was guarded by the new F22, it could crack the fusolage of the aircraft. Oh and P.S if there was a real war, they would let out secret planes that you couldn't even imagine.

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Enrico November 23, 2011 at 12:22 am

dxa, I don't know what you're referring to, the laser of the modified C-130 (Advanced Tactical Laser) is for use against ground targets, its main advantage is the high precision which can greatly reduce collateral damages; it's basically a variation of the AC-130.
Also, the U.S. probably have some secret planes under development, but you can't easily deploy prototypes during war, especially you can't mass-produce them in a few days/weeks, this was Hitler's delusion during the last stages of WW2.

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jhm November 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

seriosuly, secret airplanes? i guess we will just miss the dozens of airfields with "secret" fighters and bombers.

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mike November 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm

IMMA CHARGIN MAH LAZORS

Trust me, dxa, if someone is giving GD or LockMart a bunch of black money to build a secret airplane… there IS no airplane, they are just going to put the money in a swimming pool.

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Mike December 21, 2011 at 8:55 am

dxa: What in the hell have you been smoking? All you have done above is show just how stupid you really are. The only tradition I see in your family is one of ignorance.

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Rabbit November 23, 2011 at 12:51 am

I only have the Kopp analysis to go on, so, as far as I know the PAK FA is in a class of its own (well, a class with the F-22 but still), so I question the wisdom of comparing it to the F-35. It also saddens me that the F-35 was apparently designed under the assumption that there would be enough F-22s to sanitise the airspace beforehand, which doesn't seem likely now.

What we can't afford to do right now, though, is just drop the whole thing and start from scratch. Who knows how long we'd be waiting if we did?

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So? November 23, 2011 at 1:20 am

I don't think the T-50 will have the same all-aspect stealth. One thing it will have is a massive fuel fraction. OTOH, some are questioning the value of stealth at any cost, considering the progress made by AD systems in the last 20 years (radar equation notwithstanding) and perhaps hypersonics will be the next big thing. For example, F-22 vs Aegis cruiser - who wins? If the F-22 wins at acceptable cost (missiles, MALDs, airframes (!) expended), then all is good. If not, what will it take?

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Rabbit November 23, 2011 at 5:55 am

That's a good point, since radars get better and better all the time, I think the Russian focus on raw performance with fighters like the T-50 and the Su-35 will serve them well, at least in air superiority. I'm not sold on the idea of the F-22 vs the Aegis cruiser as a model of things to come though; surely the same job could be done by a sub or cruise missile with less risk of retaliation?

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So? November 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Well, PAC-3 and S-400 are like Aegis on land.

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wqedsd November 23, 2011 at 6:20 am

hm why do people who compliment this plane get down voted?
T-50 looks sexy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bmhjf0rKe8
You wouldn't down vote surprise kitty would you?

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gunslinger6 November 23, 2011 at 9:10 am

I agree with you. As far as looks go it is a good looking air plane. I would even go as far as the SU 27 and 35 are nice looking air frames too, not as nice looking as an F 15 or Super hornet, but they are nice airframes. But that is my two cents; I also think the A 10 is a beautiful aircraft while some say it is ugly, so to each their own I guess.

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jhm November 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

yup the russian aircraft are beautiful in their own way, i cnt really explain it, but wehn u see them fly its like wow

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So? November 24, 2011 at 2:24 am

Yeah, but the underside looks a bit ragged.

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Uranium238 November 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Just another example of the Russian concept of "Quantity over Quality" with a pricey paintjob.

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Stratege November 26, 2011 at 5:51 am

What indicates that in this case?

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jhm November 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Putin saying that this aircraft will not be as stealthy as the f22, but will outperform it in dogfights. well i dunno about you but that doesnt exactly sound like " this aircraft is a superior quality fighting machine that can outperform in every area"

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Stratege November 27, 2011 at 8:33 am

"Putin saying that this aircraft will not be as stealthy as the f22"

As far as i known, Putin didn't said that

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Stratege November 26, 2011 at 6:09 am

"I only have the Kopp analysis to go on, so, as far as I know the PAK FA is in a class of its own (well, a class with the F-22 but still), so I question the wisdom of comparing it to the F-35. It also saddens me that the F-35 was apparently designed under the assumption that there would be enough F-22s to sanitise the airspace beforehand, which doesn't seem likely now."

To be honest, Dr. Kopp have to many B.S., assumptions and doubtful speculations in his analysis/reports.
But, yes, PAK FA is in a class of its own - truly multi-role machine that could be configured for various types of combat operations. T-50 is something that combines the capabilities of the F-22 (air superiority / "mini-AWACS") and F-35 (armament's kit can be configured for SEAD / air-to-surface / anti-naval missions). PAK-FA's radar system and weapons list are pretty interesting:
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.

For internal and external hardpoints T-50 will got :
- short-range missile RVV-MD (new development for PAK-FA program )
- middle-range RVV-SD (new development)
- ultra-long range missile (the R-73/RVV-BD 's sucessor) "AWACS killer" missile
- cruise missiles in internal bays and on external hardpoints
- air-to-ground missiles / bombs

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Billy November 26, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Yeah, Russia will buy 200 PAK FA. My ass, Russia can barely buy Su 25, 27, 30, or 35 for their air force yet alone maintain it. SouthWest airline pilots probably have more flight time than Russian air force pilots.

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jhm November 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm

didnt they say they would have 50 "new" su35s by 2015/6? now they say theyll produce 200 pak fas? ambitious no?

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RavenMkII November 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Is it me or does that plane looke almost exactly like a F-22? espionage anyone?

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PMI November 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm

It's just you.

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Stratege November 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm

The first three flying prototypes is the edge of development while the general work on this program began more than decade ago.

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