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 altair.com.pl, 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