PAK FA Update : Russian 5th-Gen Fighter to Make Maiden Flight on Friday

Russia is set to hold the first test of its futuristic fifth-generation fighter jet on Friday, a source at the country's largest aircraft producer said on Thursday."The [test] flight was initially scheduled for Thursday, but has been postponed," the source at the Gagarin KNAAPO company, a subsidiary of aircraft holding Sukhoi, said.Russia's only known fifth-generation project is Sukhoi's PAK FA and the current prototype is the T-50. It is designed to compete with the U.S. F-22 Raptor, so far the world's only fifth-generation fighter, and the F-35 Lightning II, but has yet to take to the skies.

Speaking at a news conference later on Thursday, the chief of the Russian state-controlled arms exporter Rosoboronexport said India remained Russia's sole partner in the project."We [Russia and India] are working to build the fifth-generation aircraft," Anatoly Isaikin said.Russia has been developing its newest fighter since the 1990s. The country's top military officials earlier said the stealth fighter jet with a range of up to 5,500 km would enter service with the Air Force in 2015.

India, which has a long history of defense relations with Russia, joined the project after signing an agreement in October 2007. But the two nations are still in talks to finalize the contract.India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was reported to be seeking a 25% share in design and development in the project. It has also sought to modify Sukhoi's single-seat prototype into the twin-seat fighter India's Air Force wants.

Russia accounts for around 70% of India's weapons inventory. HAL has license-produced Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters, cooperated in the development of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, and plans to work on a joint multirole transport aircraft.Defense ties have strained, however, over the fifth-generation fighter program and the rising cost of refurbishing the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov for the Indian navy.

The PAK FA is to be armed with next-generation air-to-air, air-to-surface, and air-to-ship missiles, and has two 30-mm cannons.The first prototype of the jet was already tested on the runway of the aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Russia's Far East. The test pilot made two runs on the airstrip, during which the brakes were applied several times.


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