Russians have started working on a new engine for their 5th generation stealth fighter

Feb 26 2015 - 26 Comments
By Jacek Siminski

The Russians have started the test and design works, aim of which is to provide the Russian 5th Generation fighter with a relevant power-plant.

If there is one field in which the Russians seem to fall behind in aircraft development – it is definitely the propulsion systems for the new jets.

Currently, prototypes of the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA (Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii—Future Tactical Air System) which is the Russian 5th Generation fighter design, use the Saturn AL-41F1 engines, which are a series production model used by the Russian 4.5 generation fighters, such as Sukhoi Su-35.

We must remember that childhood of T-50 PAK-FA has been quite troublesome and engines have already been cause of some quite embarrassing incidents in the near past.

The current engine should not be mistaken with the NPO Saturn AL-41F engine, which has been designed for the Multi-Role Frontline Fighter, also known as MiG-1.44. The engine used by the PAK-FA prototypes is actually an updated variant of the AL-31F power-plant.

According to, NPO Saturn corporation representatives recently announced that the prototype of the second engine is expected to be ready for flight testing in 2015. The new engine, shall be ready for the series production by 2020, with the first prototype being completed by 2016, and flight tests planned to happen in 2017.

At least such statements were made during the Aero India 2015 expo by Vladislav Masalov, who is the chief of the ODK company working on the jet propulsion systems.

In the meanwhile, numerous media outlets report that Russia and India are going to sign a contract, regarding the future development of a 5th Generation Fighter in 2015. According to IHS Jane’s, Yuri Slyusar, who is the CEO of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), stated that the parties are at the final stage of negotiations. The preliminary agreement has already been signed. The program is to involve the UAC company on the side of Russia and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited company for India. Slyusar confirmed the fact that the new generation engine testing program is under way.

It is yet unclear, when we may expect the PAK-FA or the Indian fused design to be introduced into service in the front-line units though.

Image credit: Dmitry Zherdin/Wiki


  • Acrn

    “The new engine, shall be ready for the series production by 2020, with the first prototype being completed by 2016, and flight tests planned to happen in 2017.”

    And yet the RuAF plans to take the first delivery in 2016, with 55 of the initial order of 60 being delivered by 2020… Somebody is being a little optimistic! I wonder, are the acquisition plans sincere, or is this a boutique project to milk R&D funds from India while pretending to push towards full rate production?

    • Jacek Siminski

      It is possible that PAK-FA would be delivered with the AL-41F1’s and they will be updated later on.

      • Acrn

        That seems likely, though I wonder how much commonality the different production tranches can have if each is built around one of the two engines. I haven’t seen this discussed, but the tolerances required for LO shaping mean that simple engine-swap upgrades possible with earlier aircraft may simply not be possible in this case.

  • big john ok

    It sure doesn’t look that stealthy with its 90 degree vertical tail fins. These will stand out on any modern advanced radar system.

    • Jacek Siminski

      Thewy are not EXACTLY 90 degree, c.f. here:

    • Uranium238

      My money is on that canopy glass and fat engines making that thing look like Rosie O’Donnell on a radar scope in the sky.

      • InvaderNat

        That canopy ‘glass’ is actually an indium-tin oxide composite designed to absorb radar. It’s the same process used by the F-22. These also aren’t the final engines obviously. Furthermore the F-22 doesn’t even have an IRST so it won’t see it anyway.

    • Blokke

      The stealth expert has spoken – nice try Russia, try to get that basic trigonometry right next time.

      • cj

        What you know about ?how many wars did Americans lost? and Russia??

  • marc

    Look again, there not at 90 degrees. Russians know how to build aeroplanes.

  • SajeevJino

    India Plans to buy 50 Su T 50 directly from Russia, and later plans to build 144 twin seat FGFA in India

  • Seems a bit late to just get started on an engine that they knew they needed a decade ago

  • Mr

    russians hurried to show their 5th generation fighter jet. watch it’s engines even if we assume that PAK FA has the best engines ever! it cannot hide itself from F22-raptor. it is too weak to compete F22!. moreover it’s radar systems are not speed-processor(compared with F22 phased radar) based on released infos about this fighter. we can name it as 4.5++th gen fighter not an exact 5th gen!

    • Roland Lawrence

      If they can get over the manufacturing issues then this might well be an awesome plane. I dont know if its a Raptor killer or not. Depends on the metrics used. Range, price, numbers to be made / in service? 5th gen is more a marketing term then actual family association. The USA has a trillion dollar budget for its military far more then anyone else. For offensive capability the USA is second to none, just look at companies like dropbox collecting all the worlds IP without even so much as a fight. Warfare aint what it used to be. Its moved on.

    • sinisterfalcon007

      Remember in future aerial combat the BVR advantage enjoyed by americans will be lost thanks to advent of newer design from Russia, hence instead of radar capabilities what will be more important is agility & passive sensors

  • Callsign Vega

    This plane may have a lower radar cross section than previous generation Russian planes, but definitely nowhere near the low RCS of American stealth jets.

  • Cryptometry

    I’ve always wondered why the top of the engine is exposed bare metal. Is it for heat dissipation or something else?

    • Ed

      I am not sure. Perhaps they want to spread heat a bit? Perhaps heat seakers go heat gradients or something, then it could be beneficial. Or it may be because these are not the final engines yet.

      For what it’s worth, some models with those sections painted have been spotted around either Sukhoi or the Russian government (can’t remember). Probably doesn’t mean much though.

  • OG_Locc

    Stealthy as Mig-29, but sure looks cool.

  • Ronin0948

    All the jingoist comments are too rich, given 35 years of hindsight and the F-35’s never ending stream of software bugs and white fuel trucks.

  • OG_Locc

    LMAO. Yes, of course. That is why China and Russia are rushing to develop their own stealth aircraft – because stealth is not relevant.

  • Armands Bekmanis

    Yeah right.