New Sukhoi Fifth Generation Fighter Uses Pixelated Color Scheme.
Photos of the newest Sukhoi T-50-9 have surfaced on Russian aircraft spotter blogs and forums. According to Russian media the aircraft made its first flight to Komsomolsk-on-Amur on April 24, 2017. The flight remained secret and no public photos were made.
Between May 10 and May 12 Russian aircraft spotters began to see the new T-50-9 for the first time. The aircraft was identifiable by its new “bort” number, 509, and most significantly by a wild new pixelated paint scheme. The first photos came from the Zhukovsky region near Moscow. Some of the photos first appeared on the Twitter account of Vasily Kuznetsov with what appears to be a cell phone photo of a digital camera playback before the photos were even uploaded to the Internet. At least one air-to-air photo allegedly shows “509” with two 8,000 lt drop tanks.
Comparisons between the new T-50 and the U.S. F-22 have been popular on forums and in news stories. The short story is that the performance of the newest T-50 will be similar to the F-22 according to Russian news sources, but that the aircraft will be re-engined with a new power plant that is reported to be “ahead of schedule”.
However, considered that the Russian stealth aircraft is still being developed analysts suggest the F-22 will still have an edge in low-observable technology, sensor suites and avionics.
This appears to be the eighth Sukhoi PAK-FA T-50 prototype. Once the aircraft becomes operative it will likely receive a more common designation such as “Sukhoi Su-50”. The T-50 is made to compete directly with other 5th generation aircraft such as the U.S. F-22 and the Chinese Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31. India also claims to have an indigenous 5th generation fighter program underway although no prototype has been built.
According to Russian media outlets there are no export plans for the T-50, even though several variants are being considered for foreign markets.
Most of the photos that have surfaced are very good quality images of the aircraft on the ground of taking off. One photo circulating in Russian social media appears to be an officially sourced image of the T-50-9 aircraft number 509 in flight with what is apparently a pair of long-range fuel tanks on the wings similar to the ones seen on the F-22.
The PAK-FA T-50 is quoted at approximately $50 million per aircraft current cost. According to Russian sources the aircraft is capable of a top speed of 1,516MPH (2,440kmh) and effective range of “3,418 miles”.
Top image Russian Air Force via Russiandefence.net