Russian next generation stealth fighter to fall victim to the Russian financial crisis?

Apr 07 2015 - 19 Comments
By Jacek Siminski

PAK-FA may suffer significant cuts.

Russian Deputy Minister of Defence Yuri Borisov, has recently announced that the PAK-FA programme may be halted or adjusted, due to the dire conditions of Russia’s economy, affected by the Ukrainian crisis and the subsequent (proxy war and) EU sanctions.

Initially, the Russian Air Force was expected to procure more than 150 PAK-FA next generation stealth fighter jets, with the first examples to be delivered to the active squadrons in 2016. In December 2014, the RuAF plans was to receive the first 55 fighters by 2020.

However, as announced by Russia’s MoD last month, the production will be slowed down and the initial order cut to 12 jets: the nation’s economy has deteriorated and the aircraft troubled development and increasing costs have persuaded the Russian Air Force to retain their large fleets of fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-27SM and Su-35S to obviate to the reduced amount of frontline next generation fighter jets.

Indeed, the PAK-FA program seems to be quite costly, because of the troublesome childhood of the new Russian fighter and the problems associated with the fighter’s powerplant.

According to the Polish media outlet Altair, the production is to be started next year, and the Russian Air Force would stop the production after the first 12 examples are acquired for a period of operational tests. This would serve two purposes: first of all, it would enable the Russian MoD to plan the procurement of Su-30SM and Su-35 jet fighters to eventually save some money. Secondly, that period would be used to test the PAK-FA’s operational capabilities, and possibly to get rid of any of the problems that could emerge during the initial field operations.

Sukhoi planned to sell some 400 fighters to the Russian and the Indian Air Force; figures that seems to be well above the current sales forecast: India has considerably reduced the requirement from 200 to no more than 130-145 jets, and has recently expressed concerns over the raising costs, delays and technical issues that have plagued the 10.5 billion USD FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft), that is based on the PAK-FA aircraft.

Image credit: Sukhoi via


  • Paul

    Of course, you’re forgetting that in order to suffer the same fate as the F-22, they first have to finish the design, prove it out, and then build >150 of them and get them operational; then, after seeing the costs falling and the capabilities increasing, they would THEN have to make the ridiculous decision that it would be best to cancel production before 1/3 of what was envisioned are built.
    I’d say at this point, it is WAY too early to make your statement – They haven’t even completed a single fully functional bird yet, let alone anything that compares to the nearly 200 Raptors we have operational. The Raptor’s been operational for 10 years, and was at the same point that the J-20 and Pak Fa are today over 20 years ago. So even IF they started production TODAY, they’re 20 years late; and that’s not even considering the upgrades the Raptor’s had over the past 5-10 years.
    A more accurate statement would be: Pak Fa to share same development woes as the F-35s, and reach neither its promised capabilities OR cost projections. Instead of all their belly-aching about the F-22, the F-22 bashers could’ve just closed their mouths and learned the truth about the aircraft – Cus there ain;’t no sign of an F-35 going anywhere near the front lines where we were all told it was “needed” because the -22 wasn’t flexible enough, was too expensive, or the other hogwash everyone bit hook line and sinker – And that’s what was, is, and likely likely to remain, the problem for quite some time; people believe everything they see or hear without any effort to find out the truth.

  • Paul

    Yes, if the original schedule was to produce a prototype aircraft that has technologies that “sort of” do what an F-22 was doing 25 years ago, then yes, they’re not that far behind schedule :-)
    The truth of the matter is, Russia AND China are WAY behind the curve – We’re 10 years operational 5th Gen and already working on Gen 6; they haven’t perfected Gen 4 engines and avionics, and not built a single complete Gen 5.
    I guess they’re following a different timeline.

  • Paul

    You have a few IFs that the F-22 deals with beautifully:
    IF these long-range radars become a threat, the -22 will target them early-on
    IF fighter radar becomes impaired at long range against stealthy targets, then what other targeting capabilities out there would trump the Raptor’s ALR-94 passive detection system, its APG-77 radar, its integrated avionics, and its super-cruising airframe? There are none. An IRST function can be added to the F-22 via software, and it would be MUCH more affective pointed at an SU_whatever, than the IRST on an SU-whatever trying to target a Raptor… That’s the beauty of the F-22, it’s a TRUE stealth aircraft.
    Stealth is not a Lose-Lose proposition – It is, however a losing proposition for a “somewhat stealthy” adversary to try and go nose-to-nose with something on the level of an F-22.

  • Paul

    It’s MUCH more likely that they realize just HOW difficult and expensive it is breaking into the 5th-gen club; the better oprtion is to do what you’re implying and HOPE that by the time they’ve completed THAT project, we haven’t embedded a counter to it into the F-22 and -35.
    You see, there are advantages to being in the lead rather than chasing.

  • Paul

    Yeah, they’ll figure it out… eventually :-)

  • Paul

    The troubles and extravagance of the F-35 are exactly what “new and state of the art military” is all about. If you want capabilities that the U.S. is NOW developing, you can either steal the tech and hope for the best at the time you stole it, or you can put the billions and years into developing it yourself and dealing with all the pitfalls that present themselves during development of weapons as space-age as the F-35.
    There are a lot of considerations: Do you NEED it?… Is it worth developing on your own or as a group? And if a cheaper form of counter (Jamming/network attack, integrated active/passive radars, etc.) is available or doable, how long’s it going to take to develop and field?..and could your adversary “trump” it once again simply be modifying their existing system, which may not even have a counterbalance to because you chose NOT to develop one?
    When you have a weapon system like the F-22 (and hopefully the F-35 too), which has capabilities way beyond anything else a country can just slap into production, and you field them in enough numbers, you can truly tip a battlefield – The F-15s and -16s dominance in capabilities and numbers prove it. When trying to develop a counter to say the F-22, it must be unnerving for these countries to know that they are still designing today to try to match what we PROVED 25 years ago, they are not designing to the things they HAVEN’Tbeen shown or the capabilities that we’ve been developing over the same 25 years. In that sense, they are AT LEAST 25 years behind us. Only if they produce massive numbers can they counter the -22 and -35, unless they beat us to the next gen (yeah, right)

  • Jan Schmidt

    the t-50 will be built regardless of the cost, because russia and india need them as first line of air dominance/air defense… china too has a stake in it (engines!) so it is possible they will fund the engine.

    some of the f-35 fanboys here still do not understand, that this “bombsled” is just about funneling taxpayers money into the MIC. the f-35 will only work as a strike fighter after f-22 and legacy fighters have dealt with all threats. it will be real tricky without f-22s and f-18G’s to perform a strike. but do not worry, UCAVs will take care of that too…

    i wonder how the russian UCAV research is going?

  • shikataganai

    The 12 aircraft on order book are that for testing and acceptance trials. It does not mean that there will not be follow up orders prior to 2020. There is no announcement by Russian Deputy Minister of Defence Yuri Borisov that the program could be stopped (If I’m wrong – and I’m not – you can show the original source). Btw, the T-50 was never intended to be fully stealth as the F-22. It’s design philosophy is simply different from that of the Raptor

  • Lander

    PAK-FA is whole new platform, like Armata. Three more planes of second phase will be added for flight testing this year. I think with Izdelie 30 engines this aircraft would be capable even for vertical landing:

  • dsan

    buy jf-17 block3

  • John Does

    12 Pak FA jets versus 180 F-22 and 2400 F-35.
    Russia is the one in trouble.

  • John Does
  • F-35 needs F-22s to do an entire job, else it is a sitting duck in dogfights.

  • Matthew Morgan

    One SS-18 hitting New York means retaliatory strikes back on Russia.

    Que the end of humanity.

    • Vitor Leur

      Not really. Russia has underground cities built during the Cold war and millions of Russians will survive and repopulate what was the US

  • Vitor Leur

    Not before Europe and America turn into ashes. Russia has several underground cities build during cold war where millions will survive.

    • TheTruther

      Great… Welcome Metro 2033/2034, where nuclear winter sets in and most people won’t survive for awhile underground as you can only stay underground for so long with millions. I for one do not advocate nuclear war unlike some others. Let’s not bring innocent people into this.


    exactly…. it’s yet another Russian imitation of US hardware, with half the capability… they’ve been working the model for what 15 years now and they are nowhere near being able to even prototype the engine concept, it’s a unicorn