Up close and personal with Russia’s 5th generation stealth fighter: first close-up pictures of the PAK-FA

During the recent MAKS airshow, Sukhoi allowed for the first time journalists to have a look at the T-50 (PAK FA – Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii—Future Tactical Air System) from short distance. Marina Lystseva of Lenta.ru was among them and took the images you can find in this post (the rest is here).

The fifth generation fighter plane was inside a hangar at Zhukovsky flight test facility.


The aircraft is planned to enter active service in 2016 – 2018. So far four aircraft have been produced and involved in the flight testing program. A fifth T-50 is expected to join the rest of prototypes by the end of the year.

Under the current contract, the Russian Air Force is to get 60 such fighters. Even if most of its technical specs are secret, some details have emerged.


The aircraft is a stealth equipped with a front, side and rear AESA radar, as well as L Band radars. It features TVC (Thrust Vectoring Control), a top speed exceeding Mach 2 and supermaneuverability. It should carry a wide variety of weapons including air-to-air, air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles.

In other words, it will be a tough adversary for the F-22 and F-35.

H/T to Vadim Volkov for the heads-up

Credit: Marina Lystseva / Lenta.ru


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About David Cenciotti 4428 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.


  1. People seem to be forgetting that the program is in the prototype phase. Stealth refinements come later, just like….

    • Exactly, this aircraft won’t even see combat because it’s not a finished product. As for the F-35 and F-22, well these two are not even combat proven, and though the F-22 is already in service, for me it remains a prototype until it manages to live up to the promises they make.

      Counting on stealth as the key element of all your new aircraft performances is putting all your golden eggs in a very dangerous basket. The enemy gets smarter too you know.

    • This is not accurate at all. Stealth is not something you throw on after the plane is developed. It’s something you design in from the beginning. Just look at this plane. Full of rivets, pitots hanging out everywhere, no saw tooth edges, no coatings on the canopy, raw edges everywhere, probably no carbon baffling inside the leading edges, etc, etc, etc, These are the little details that make this nothing more than a 4th gen fighter that’s a bit more capable. The SR-71, after it’s first refinement program was complete had the RCS of a BIRD. The F-22? A BEE. I guarantee you this thing would light up a scope like a christmas tree. There is no way this thing could detect or defeat the F-22 before it was already dead. Just no way.

      • How can you determine the level of stealth and performance of a plane just by looking at a picture of a prototype?

        • I think he means the stealth level of THIS actual prototype. Figuring out it’s “stealthiness” is actually quite easy. This prototype isn’t, and for good reason. Russia isn’t going to tip it’s hand on what the final product will be, just as the US has done. The currently operational F-22 is absolutely nothing like it’s prototype in every measurable way.

  2. Although stealth dictates a far amount of the aircraft’s shape a significant amount of the stealth is the plane’s coating. And I’d have to say this plane probably has little to no radar absorbent coating.

  3. Looks like “Firefox” – NATO – can we codename it “Firefox” after the Clint Eastwood movie please!!

  4. Imagine 15 or so years from now when the IAF FGFA and the F-22 meet head up for some exercise. Lol, imagine the internet excuses as well…

  5. Very nice plane and super powerful radar designed to meet a F22 toe to toe even with less stealth.. this plane is not going to be going in a dogfight against F35 it will be dealing with the F22 / F15 escorts. the F35 will be in the penetrator / bomber role of the F105 Thunderchief and will be at much more difficult to track altitudes and headings, F22 will be up there begging the Pak’s to come Forward..
    Ignore the J20, it will be on the ground suffering some sort of Chinese crap fail in its fundamental design or manufacturing.. at least the parts that were not stolen from the Russians or USA.

    • The only thing the F-35 is going to able to penetrate is in your budget. A very big and deep hole.

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