Russia’s most advanced fighter jet’s troublesome childhood

The developmental engines on the PAK-FA were a consistent source of criticism, especially following a sensational compressor stall incident at the MAKS 2011 airshow. (Photo: Rulexip via Wikipedia)

During this year’s MAKS expo in Moscow, PAK-FA, Sukhoi’s 5th Generation stealth fighter jet, also known as T-50, has shown a full-scope high aspect display, including the notorious Pugachev’s Cobra.

However, footage shows that, whilst still being impressive, the display was less dynamic than those of some other super-maneuverable previous generation jets.

“It could be seen that the plane still suffers from the strict g-limits,” says Piotr Butowski on his MAKS reports published on monthly aviation magazine Magazyn Lotnictwo.

“The plane underwent a modernization in the Sukhoi facility on the Polikarpov Street in Moscow Dec. 2012 and May 2013. The airframe was reinforced according to the flight tests and static tests that were already carried out; many new overlays can be seen on the airplane’s surface. ”

Indeed, the airframe has been strenghtened using pieces of metal put on the surface of the wings which can be spotted on this photo by Alexey Mitayev.

Back in the 2011, when PAK-FA debuted, both prototypes had technical problems. First one, “51” had structural breaks, while second one, “52” suffered a quite embarrassing flameout at the beginning of its MAKS 2011 performance and was forced to abort take off and display.

Besides the above mentioned (scarcely publicized) flaws, that are quite common among aircraft still under development (ask Lockheed Martin that produces the T-50’s American counterparts F-35 and F-22) PAK-FA has also shown new sensors, including the new side-looking radar, and ultraviolet sensor that allows the aircraft for additional passive identification.

The PAK-FA is planned to enter service in the late 2016 or early 2017.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image credit: Wiki

Enhanced by Zemanta
About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.