Russia expects to begin test flights of the fifth generation fighter plane in 2009, while talks are underway for Indian involvement in the project codenamed "prospective frontline aircraft".
"The first flight has been tentatively set for 2009,". During President Vladimir Putin's India visit , New Delhi and Moscow had reached a political decision to jointly develop the fifth generation fighter on the basis of a project prepared by Sukhoi Design Bureau.
The two sides are currently negotiating on the financial aspects of the agreement as Moscow has proposed to invest part of the rupee debt New Delhi owes to Russia.
The fifth generation fighter will be equipped with new engines capable of imparting thrust for accelerating its speed in seconds from zero to Mach-2 (twice the speed of sound).
According to it, smart ammunition and beyond visual range missiles capable of "hitting a nail" are being developed for arming the new fighter, which would also have stealth features based on Russian "cold plasma" technology capable of absorbing radar signals.
The competition of world's biggest superpowers to develop the fifth generation of pursuit planes still continues. Russian specialists intend to build such a jet, or an aviation complex, as engineers say, in five or seven years. Technical details of such developments are being kept top secret, although Russian aircraft designers decided to expose several solutions of theirs.
Russia's world-famous major aircraft corporations, MiG and Sukhoi were fighting for the right to take the state order for the development of the fighter jet of the fifth generation. MiG specialists chose the 1.44 index aircraft as the prototype of the new jet, whereas Sukhoi decided to base its work on the Su-47 fighter jet. The two planes proved excellent flight performance, but Sukhoi's Su-47 eventually won the contest.
Su-47 “Berkut” (“Golden Eagle”) plane is over 25 meters long; the jet's wingspan is more than 15 meters. The peculiar feature of the Su-47 jet is its forward swept wings, which actually gave him the “Berkut” title. The engine of the plane is another peculiarity of the machine – the engine possesses the controlled traction vector. The traction can be changed not only on the axe of the engine, but at an angle to it as well.
The engine of the Russian company Lulka-Saturn is a unique development of Russian engineers, which does not have any analogues in the world. The engine was originally installed on the Su-27 jet, but was subsequently modified for Su-47.
The Su-47 plane will serve as a base, on which new solutions of the fifth generation plane will be tested. The new fighter jet will be a fundamentally new machine, not just a modernized version of the “Berkut.”
The controlled traction vector engine of Su-47 will have to be thoroughly modernized. The aerodynamic scheme of Su-47 will undergo fundamental changes as well. Sukhoi's specialists are currently considering an opportunity to use forward swept wings and the front horizontal empennage for the new plane – small wings in the front part of the hull. Mikhail Pogosyan emphasized that the aerodynamic scheme would not repeat the previously discovered solutions: it will be much more complicated.
The 5th generation fighter jet by Sukhoi will be a single-seated aircraft, in which a pilot will have an opportunity to be in full control of the machine with the help of the high-tech equipment.
PAK FA [Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi]
In early 2002 Sukhoi was chosen as prime contractor for the planned Russian fifth-generation fighter is called the PAK FA [ Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi - Future Air Complex for Tactical Air Forces]. This intermediate class twin-engined fighter will be larger than a MiG-29 and smaller than a Su-27. The new fighter is intended to be about the same size as the US F-35 JSF, with a primary air superiority mission and ground attack and reconnaissance being secondary missions.
The aircraft will feature a long combat radius, supersonic cruise speed, low radar cross section, supermaneuverability, and the ability to make short takeoffs and landings. In accordance with the technical requirements, the PAK FA will have a normal takeoff weight of 20 tons, which is close to the average normal takeoff weight of the two American airplanes, the F-35 JSF (17.2 tons) and the F-22 (24 tons). The new fighter (a medium version) will have a traditional wing form, though the experience gathered as a result of Berkut's test flights will be taken in consideration when designing the fighter. It is supposed that it will be created using the Stealth technology, and equipped with two AL-41F engines by the Saturn scientific and industrial enterprise, a radar system with an active phased array (to all appearances, it will be produced by the Fazatron-NIIR corporation), and high-precision weapons.
The government commission decided on 26 April 2002 to choose the Sukhoi holding company as the head company to develop and produce the fighter of the fifth generation. The prototype of the PAK FA would take-off in 2006 and that in 2010 the aircraft would be ready for series production. The first deliveries, both for Russian armed forces and for export, would be possible in 2011-12.
The new airplane is being proposed to be brought from the concept design to a prototype series in less than 9 years. Historically, fourth and fifth generation fighters have not been created in less than 15 years. The Russian government has promised to allocate 1.5 billion dollars for the PAK FA through 2010. But the Russian Air Force is receiving less than 200 million dollars a year during this period, and will spend it primarily on other needs.
The prices and sources of funding will determine the destiny of the whole program. To date officials agree that the program will cost $1.5 billion. However, $1.5 billion is the sum needed for creating a new generation of avionics for the fighter (considering the fact that pre-production models of the phased array have already been produced, and will soon be tested). And finally, designers will have to spend several hundred millions of dollars on creating a new airframe.
The development of an engine for the fifth generation jet fighters involves two big companies, NPO Saturn (in consortium with UMPO) and FSUE Salyut, which are participating in this project and competing against each other to win the state-guaranteed order. The project is being implemented in two stages: firstly through upgrading the fourth-generation AL-31F engine and, secondly, the development of a basically new configuration of the fifth-generation engine. The consortium led by NPO Saturn was the winner of the first stage and their engine design will be installed on the first PAK FA engine prototypes. Their procurement has been scheduled for 2010. However, installation of the unit developed by Salyut on the modernised Su-27 jet fighter has already been carried out since December 2006. The financing for the first stage is considerably lower than the funds planned by the government to finance the second stage (according to unofficial information US$500m and US$2–3bn, respectively). Completion of the AL-41F engine (present readiness is 30 percent) will require, in the opinion of the boss of Rosaviakosmos, 600 - 800 million dollars. Saturn said that launching of production of the AL-41F engine would take $150 million. An improved version of the AL-31F will be used on the aircraft originally (though it is not clear how these heavy motors are reconciled with the concept of a 20-ton fighter). The upgrade of these engines will require expenditures of 1.2-1.5 billion dollars.
State financing will cover not more than 20-22 percent of the cost of the development of the PAK FA. It will thus be necessary to draw extrabudgetary sources of funding, lending the development program a principle of openness for international cooperation. In the opinion of experts, export income, if it is taken from the plants, can provide not more than 1 billion dollars. It is maintained that the insufficient amounts can be received from foreign partners.
The plane's development will be conducted with a view of achieving a reasonable compromise between its cost and combat efficiency, and take into account the market demand. exports sales of the new warplane must reach 500 to 600 fighters at a price of $35 to $40 million each to make production of the new aircraft profitable.
India and Russia have agreed to jointly develop this fifth-generation fighter, under a scheduled with entery into service in 2009. This would be the first such joint development venture between the two countries.
There is little chance that Russia will have fifth-generation pursuit planes of its own. Development and construction of a fifth-generation fighter would require about $20 billion dollars, and as of early 2004 it was unlikely that the government will appropriate financing of this scale. The problem is that economic and military authorities in this country live in parallel spaces and have no common approach to problems.
On 09 January 2008, the general director of the company "Sukhoi" Michael Pogosyan the tests are officially planned for 2009, and “closer to 2015” its serial production must start. In general all goes according to the schedule.
On 03 April 2008 RIA Novosti reported that Russia planned to begin flight tests of the new fifth-generation fighter in 2009. "The development of a fifth-generation Advanced Tactical Frontline Fighter is being carried out under the Sukhoi PAK FA project," . "The flight tests of the aircraft are scheduled to begin in 2009,". The new fighter aircraft, which will feature high maneuverability and stealth to ensure air superiority and precision in destroying ground and sea targets, will be built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft-manufacturing plant in Russia's Far East.
|SU-47 Berkut Specifications|
|Powerplant||two Aviadvigatel D-30F6 afterburning turbofans at 68,340 lb (303.8 kN) each (original) two Saturn/ Lyul'ka AL-37FU afterburning turbofans at 63,930 lb (284.4 kN) each w/ afterburner (planned)|
|Length||72.83 ft (22.60 m)|
|Wingspan||74.00 ft (16.70 m)|
|Height||19.33 ft (5.90 m)|
|Maximum Takeoff||74,955 lb (34,000 kg)|
|Speed||1,555 mph (2,500 km/h)|
|Ceiling||61,680 ft (18,800 m)|
|Range||2,100 nm (3,880 km) -- typical|
|Armament||14 hard points designed for AA-11 Archer missiles, 37mm single-barrel cannon|
MiG-MAPO Project 1.44/1.42
The MiG-MAPO Project 1.44/1.42 is a Russian Air Force prototype fifth-generation air-superiority fighter aircraft. Apart from a number of variations along the lines of Object/Project 1.44/1.42, the aircraft is also known as the MiG-MFI, and (apparently unofficially) as the MiG-35 and even MiG-39. The relationship between the 1.44 and 1.42 designations is unclear outside the military world, and these are generally used interchangeably.
The 1.44 was Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau's entry to Russia's Многофункциональный Фронтовой Истребитель (Mnogofounksionalni Frontovoi Istrebiel - Multifunctional Frontline Fighter) program (a development program that originated in the 1980s, similar to the Advanced Tactical Fighter program held in the United States). It was designed to compete with and supersede the American Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor in all aspects. It is comparable to the F-22 and the European EFA-2000 Eurofighter. Many of its design features are similar to those found on fifth generation Western fighters, including thrust vectoring, supersonic cruise, stealth technology, and modern avionics. Looking back upon its development history, the 1.44 served purely as a technological showcase and testbed for future aircraft designs, not as an actual air superiority fighter.
The MiG 1.44/1.42 has been shrouded in mystery throughout the course of its existence. The Russian government cancelled the MFI program in 1997 due to the unacceptably high per-unit cost of the aircraft (Ф2.05 billion RUR ($70 million USD)). Development continued, with the first test flight taking place on February 29 2000 and two confirmed test flights in 2001. In Russia's abandonment of the MFI program, the PAK FA (Перспективному Авиационному Комплексу Фронтовой Авиации - Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi - Prospective Air Complex for Tactical Air Forces) program was initiated for the development of an aircraft designed to fill a role similar to that of the F-22, and come at a size and cost similar to that of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In 2001, India agreed with Russia to make the PAK FA program a development/production joint-venture between the two nations. Both Mikoyan-Gurevich and Sukhoi submitted concepts to the Defense Ministry for the PAK FA program (MiG entering an updated Project 1.44), but the Russian Defense Ministry selected the Sukhoi Design Bureau as the primary contractor for the PAK FA fighter. Design work has commenced on a backward-swept winged derivative of Sukhoi's experimental Su-47 BerkutThe Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut ( Russian: "Golden Eagle"), designated S-32 and/or S-37 during initial development, is an experimental supersonic jet fighter developed by the Sukhoi Corporation. The distinguishing feature of the aircraft is its forward swept wing aircraft. PAK FA proves to be a very ambitious program, with production of the PAK FA fighter planned to commence in 2010. MiG-MAPO and YakovlevYakovlev may refer to: Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev, a prominent supporter of glasnost and ally of Mikhael Gorbachev in the 1980s. Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev, a Russian aeronautical engineer and airplane designer. Yakovlev (aircraft), military aircr have also been mentioned as secondary contractors. The MiG 1.44 is currently serving as a technology demonstrator for the PAK FA program. The in-development PAK FA aircraft will use the same in-development Lyulka AL-41F engine planned for the 1.44. Other details are not yet known.
The 1.44 is a delta-winged. The delta-wing is a wing platform in the form of a triangle. Its use in the so called "tailless delta", i. without the horizontal tailplane, was pioneered especially by Alexander Lippisch in Germany and Boris Ivanovich Cheranovsky in the USSR prior to WWI, twin-tailed single seat air superiority/strike fighter with an all-moving forward canardIn aeronautics, canard ( French for duck) is a type of fixed-wing aircraft in which the tailplane is ahead of the main lifting surfaces, rather than behind them as in conventional aircraft. The earliest models, such as the Santos-Dumont 14-bis, were seen plane. Its physical appearance and design characteristics most resemble the EFA-2000 Eurofighter (both of which provided much inspiration in the design of the People's Republic of China Chengdu J-10The first picture of J-10A in service with PLAAF was unveiled in 2004. It probably was taken in summer 2003 at the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Center. J-10 (Project 10/Project 8810?) is a multi-functional single-engine fighter being developed by Chengdu). It is powered by two Lyulka AL-41F afterburning, thrust vectored turbofan jet engines, each generating 175 kN (39,340 lbf) of thrust (these engines are still in development). Both engines are fed by a single air intake placed under the fuselage. The 35-ton aircraft has a theoretical at-altitude maximum speed of Mach 2.6 (which would make it faster than the F-22, and in the class of the variable geometry F-14 TomcatThe Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a United States Navy supersonic, twin-engine, variable sweep wing, two-seat strike fighter. The Tomcat's primary missions are air superiority, fleet air defense and precision strike against ground targets. The F-14 was developed), and is capable of long-term supersonic flight. The 1.44 has a tricycle landing gear system, with a single, dual-wheel landing gear in the front, and two in the rear. Avionics on the 1.44 are considered cutting-edge by Western standards: the glass-cockpit-enabled fighter features a pulse Doppler radar with a phased aerial array antenna. The radar system is linked to a fire control system that allows the fighter to engage up to twenty separate targets at the same time. The excellent radar system also enables the 1.44 to compete with the likes of the F-22 at beyond visual range (BVR) aerial combat. The handling and manoeuvrability characteristics of the 1.44 are estimated to be on par with that of the F-22, since the MiG features thrust vectoring, digital fly-by-wire flight control, and two powerful engines.
SUKHOI Su-47(BERKUT) is military designation given by Russian Air Force to the Sukhoi S-37 which named Berkut and Originally known as the S-37 during initial development . From America's nex-generation fighter , F-22 . The Russian challenge comes in with the single seat Sukhoi SU-47 , the world's first combat aircraft with forward swept wings (FSW) technology. The Sukhoi SU-47 Berkut ( Golden Eagle ) makes use of forward swept wings ( FSW ) allowing superb maneuverability and better performer at high angles of attack which needed in close-in dogfight. The SU-47 makes use of composite materials to resist the wing twist that would shear most wings (forward swept wings) off the aircraft. The S-37 is an internal Sukhoi designation and the first letter with " S " means swept wing in Russian (Strelovidnoe krylo) and Berkut means golden eagle in Russian. The SU-47 is the fifth generation Sukhoi fighter features forward swept wings ( FSW ), canards and twin outward-canted vertical stabilizers , incorporated low-observable and thrust-vectoring technologies. It made first flight in September 1997and will take many more years before get into service.
TVC thrust vectoring control can operates by manual and automatic modes. The operation in manual mode the nozzles deflection angle is set by the pilot. The operation in automatic mode the nozzles are controlled by Avionika full-authority , digital fly-by-wire flight control system (FCS ). The movable in pitch axis ,the engine nozzle deflected by a pair of hydraulic jacks by using jet fuel as hydraulic liquid to drive the nozzles. The SU-47 does have some stealth design features, and maybe covered with radar-absorbent coatings.
As of today it has flew morethan 500 test flights and the preparation of three prototypes had been under way at the Irkutsk Aviation Production Association . The SU-47 still is not equipped with its regular engines (planned engines) and avionics, on-board radar will capable of target detection range of 180-245 km , and also with simultaneous tracking of 24-30 targets. The SU-47 is beleived to has 90 percent composite structure which much more than F-22. The aircraft has special mounts for weapons under fuselage.
The SU-47 , one of the features is a pair of long " Stingers " on the tail. Speculation is that one contains electronic countermeasures ( ECM ) equipment , the other has rear-facing radar. The SU-47 stealth characteristics is said real stealth capability come from sophisticated Plasma-Field generation technology that unlike anything in the west. Plasma stealth works like this, Special equipment generates a plasma field that completely surrounds the aircraft . Radar energy from enemy interacts with charged particles in the plasma field , transferring some energy to the particles . This cause Fading of the signal.
|SPECIFICATIONS SUKHOI SU-47|
|Power Plant (Turbofan) TVC||Lyulka AL-37 FU ( planned )||Aviadvigatel D-30F6 ( present )|
|Number of Engine||2|
|Engine Thrust||AL-37U = 37,480 lb||D30F6 = 34,200 lb|
|Wing Span||16.70 m. (54.7 ft )|
|Length||22.60 m. (74.12 ft )|
|Speed||2,500 km / h (1,350 kt )|
|Empty Weight||52,910 lb (24,000 kg)|
|Max Takeoff Weight||74,955 lb ( 34,000 kg )|
|Armament|| One GSh-30 cannon 30mm. 150 rds. |
R-27 / AA-10 Alamo air-to-air missile
R-73 / AA-1 Archer air-to-air missile
2 wingtip, 6-8 underwing , 6-4 under fuselage
air-to-surface ;X-29T,X-29L ,X-59M ,
X-31P, X-31A , KAB-500 , KAB-1500
Su-35-1 Flanker E Vs F-22A Raptor Vs F-35A Lightning II
The F-22 Raptor is the only US fighter design with the stealth, speed and agility to defeat the new Russian PAK-FA design. To be highly effective against the PAK-FA, it will need a range of upgrades, including a new technology infra-red sensor. Depicted technicians at the USAF AEDC performing low observables testing on an electro-optical sensor fairing, developed for the AIRST sensor. The AIRST was deleted from the F-22 avionic suite during development as a cost saving measure (US Air Force image).
Imagine an apocryphal story of three fighter pilots meeting in the bar at an air combat conference in Stockholm, in the year 2015. Chuck is a NATO F-22A Raptor pilot based in Germany, Boris an Su-35-1 Flanker E Plus pilot flying from one of the bases protecting Moscow, and Johan, a F-35A Lightning II pilot from the Netherlands. All are masters of their craft and after drinks, “merely to lubricate the vocal chords”, they do what fighter pilots all over the world do – swap stories and make claims about their beloved aircraft.
Chuck starts. “I’m king of the skies,” he claims. “I supercruise at 52,000 feet and Mach 1.7. Boris, I can see you from ~100 nm, and my AIM-120D launch range at this Mach is 70 nm. You are one dead Flanker.” Boris acknowledges the performance of the APG-77 and the Raptor, but replies, “Your missiles are easy to avoid. When you fire, my OLS-35 will see the flare, and I will turn away to out-run the missile. You need to fire closer than 50 nm – even then at 50,000 feet and Mach 1.2, my Flanker can out-turn your missile. If you are side or rear on I can get a lock-on at ~40 nm and I have a choice of seeker heads, so you might wear an R-77M in the backside.” “No way Boris,” Chuck replies, “I know that game. I’m head on and you can’t see me until about ~15 nm. If I have not killed you at 50 nautical, I’m outa there at the speed of heat.” Boris and Chuck concede that there might be a nil-all draw, with Chuck being untouchable because of the Raptor’s stealth, altitude and speed and the well defended Su-35-1 defeating the Raptor’s missiles .
Now Boris makes his point. “Comrade Johan, I have something special for you. My IRBIS-E will see you head-on at ~25nm, but I fly my boys very wide and share the paints on our digital network. At side and rear looks, I see you at ~45 nm and my ramjet RVV-AE-PDs can get you at that range.” “No way”, Johan responds, “my APG-81 radar will see you at ~75 nm and I can launch at 50 nm. If you fire, my DAS will see the missile at launch, so I’ll turn away to break lock”. “And my wingman will see you in the turn, computer network will still know where you are, and we will skewer you in the cross-fire” is Boris’s riposte, “and you will run out of missiles before I do, If I duck your AIM-120D shots, I will win easily”. They bicker about the strengths of their own aircraft and weaknesses of the other’s and Johan grudgingly agrees the Flanker might be the winner.
Chuck and Johan stay in the bar after Boris is unexpectedly ‘called away’ by men in dark coats, and agree that work needs to be done on improving the AIM-120D’s terminal lethality.
Essentially, this is a deadly play between stealth, agility, sensors and missiles. From the front quarter the Raptor’s 0.0001 square meter Radar Cross Section (RCS) and the Lightning II’s 0.001 square metres make them difficult targets. The Flanker-E Plus, while having a reduced radar signature, still has a residual RCS of about 2 square metres, such that the F-22A and the F-35 will see the Su-35-1 way beyond their missile launch range. The Su-35-1 struggles to see the F-22A on radar, but can find the F-35’s 0.01 square metre lower side and rear RCS. The AIM-120D is a fine missile, but the Su-35-1 has finer defences, so the missile kill probabilities are likely to be low. When out of missiles, the F-22 Raptor can escape. The F-35 Lightning II cannot.
A more likely future scenario is that Boris will be banned from subsequent air combat conferences, so we must rely on more conventional air combat operations analyses. If we move forward just a couple of years, say to the year 2017, and the PAK-FA is operational, there is a profound change in air combat engagements.
Suppose the Russians don’t quite master stealth to the degree of the F-22A, but manage a RCS of 0.01 square metres from all aspects. The F-22A’s APG-77 will detect the PAK-FA at ~40 nm and the F-35’s APG-81 at ~30 nm. Passive electronic surveillance might increase detection ranges, but this still makes long-range missile shots problematic, as tracking depends upon the opponent emitting, which smart opponents will try not to do.
The PAK-FA’s radar can be expected to be an improvement on the IRBIS-E so at front-on aspects might detect the F-22A at ~15 nautical miles and the F-35 at ~28 nautical miles; and from side and rear aspects, the F-22A at ~43 nautical miles and the F-35 at ~51 nautical miles.
Infrared sensors are the next growth area in air combat. Every air combat jet has unavoidable infrared signatures – converting kerosene into thrust at prodigious rates does that. The existing OLS-35, developed for the Su-35BM, is credited with the ability to detect a ‘fighter type’ target head on from 27 nautical miles, and from behind at around 50 nautical miles, through a 90° sector. It uses conventional detector technology, and provides similar performance to the Eurofighter Typhoon PIRATE infrared sensor. It is likely the PAK-FA will have infrared signature management as is found on the designs of the YF-23A, B-2A and the F-22A, but not on the F-35.
Advances in QWIP technology single chip imagers will see a new generation of infrared sensors deploy over the next decade. Not limited in infrared colour sensitivity like legacy bandgap imagers, QWIP imagers offer the potential to detect cooler targets are greater distances, and provide the high resolution required for standoff indentification of targets. Above 10.2 micron band 10242 pixel longwave image produced by a US Army Research Lab / L-3 Cincinnati corrugated QWIP [no image enhancement applied], depicted below. QWIP technology is now available in the US, EU and Russia.
QWIP based imaging Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) detectors can be “tuned” by design for sensitivity in a particular infrared band, using a fundamentally different detection technique to conventional “band gap” detectors where the material determines the colour sensitivity of the detector. First commercialized by Germany’s AIM/Diehl-BGT, QWIPs have since been adapted for ballistic missile defence applications. QWIPs have also been built to operate not only in the “conventional” midwave and longwave infrared bands, but also in the “very longwave” 15 micron band to detect very cool targets. QWIPs capable of simultaneously imaging in two, three or four infrared bands have also been manufactured and marketed. QWIP technology, therefore, opens up the potential for even greater detection ranges against targets cooler than what current production infrared sensors can track, and provide for much better infrared background rejection.
Consider a QWIP technology “OLS-50M” installed in the PAK-FA. Such a device could be design-optimised for simultaneous detection and tracking of aircraft exhausts, jet-plumes and missile flares to ranges of 70 nm and beyond – the limiting factors are the size of the optics, cooling system and detector area. Russia has decades of experience in the integration of infrared sensors into its weapons systems, and QWIPs could well become the primary sensor and radar the secondary. This means that the F-22A AN/ALR-94 will be denied signals to detect and track the PAK-FA.
The ‘shooting match’ shifts from radar-centric to ‘infrared centric’. The problem here is that the PAK-FA will have it, the F-22A does not, and the ability of the F-35 EOTS and DAS to make long range aircraft detections and guide weapons is at best ‘unproven’. The F-35 systems have not been designed to be highly sensitive at the task of searching and tracking distant aircraft at those infrared colours where aircraft and their jet engines emit most of their infrared energy. An understanding of the physics, or for the ever-hopeful, a simple Developmental Test and Evaluation exercise will demonstrate this.
With the Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) radar detections being reduced to distances below 60 nautical miles and infrared sensor detection ranges growing beyond 50 nautical miles, a new generation of missiles will be required to dominate the battlespace.
Russian missile companies have shown much more flexibility and adaptability in the design of missiles, so the PAK-FA could have a new-generation of shorter range, but higher agility missiles – a fusion of the ideas in the R-74 and R-77M, with a diverse mix of seeker heads. These missiles will likely be cued by the IRST sensor, be equipped with inertial midcourse guidance and, probably, mid-course guidance update capability transmitted either by radio, or possibly infra-red laser or millimetric wave links.
Expect the PAK-FA to have vectored thrust and high levels of agility like the Flankers it is to either replace or complement. Long missile range requires large rocket or ram-jet motors and these heavy weapons lack the agility to pull high terminal ‘G’, and may be ‘ducked’ by the PAK-FA as easily as by the Su-35-1.
The PAK-FA will use a new super-cruising engine, based on technology from the Al-41F series, so its tactic might be to maintain combat speeds of about Mach 1.5 and use a more compact version of the ramjet RVV-AE-PD. A supersonic launch enables a ramjet to light without a powerful booster – thereby denying an opponent the detection of the usual missile launch flare.
Fights between the F-22A and the PAK-FA will be close, high, fast and lethal. The F-22A may get ‘first look’ with the APG-77, the Advanced Infra Red Search and Track (AIRST) sensor having been deleted to save money, but the PAK-FA may get ‘first look’ using its advanced infrared sensor. Then, the engagement becomes a supersonic equivalent of the Battle of Britain or air combat over North Korea. The outcome will be difficult to predict as it will depend a lot on the combat skills of the pilots and the capabilities of the missiles for end-game kills. There is no guarantee that the F-22 will prevail every time.
The fate of the F-35 Lightning II would be far worse in an air combat environment challenged by the PAK-FA. If the Mach 1.5 PAK-FA is using its infrared sensor as the primary sensor and observes radio frequency emission control (EMCON), then the first detection by the F-35’s APG-81 radar could be at ~20 nautical miles or less with a missile launched by the PAK-FA’s infrared sensors already inbound from 60 to 70 nautical miles away. The PAK-FA could easily break to a direction outside the F-35’s AIM-120 engagement zone.
The sustained turning performance of the F-35A Lightning II was recently disclosed as 4.95 G at Mach 0.8 and 15,000 ft. A 1969 F-4E Phantom II could sustain 5.5 Gs at 0.8 Mach with 40 percent internal fuel at 20,000 feet. The F-35 is also much slower than the 1960s F-4E or F-105D. So the F-35A’s aerodynamic performance is ‘retrograde’ when compared with 1960s legacy fighters. The consequence of such inferior JSF performance is that its DAS might detect an incoming missile, but the aircraft lacks the turn-rate to out-fly it. As the F-35 also lacks the performance to engage or escape, repeated ‘freebie’ shots from the PAK-FA could inflict high losses. Expect the exchange rate to be of the order of 4:1 in favour of the PAK-FA, possibly much higher.
Russian aerospace companies have demonstrated an ability to outpace US aerospace manufacturers in terms of delivery of an operational capability and also the diversity of the capabilities of their weapons systems. The cumbersome US acquisition system, and marketing rather than technology driven aerospace industry, put the US at a distinct competitive disadvantage in rapidly adapting to an evolving threat environment.
The most dangerous situation the US could face, is where the high and upwardly spiralling development and production costs of the JSF ‘cuckoo’ the available resources, which are needed to develop the advanced capabilities necessary to counter the new Russian PAK-FA, and the generation of new weapons which the PAK-FA will inevitably be armed with.
Complacency is not an option. Having ruled the roost for the decade out to 2015, the F-22A may be knocked off its perch by a newcomer, unless the US invests in new sensors, especially, and advanced technology Infra-Red Search and Track, stealth improvements and a new generation of missiles for the F-22 – assuming it even builds more than the token number of F-22s currently planned. The F-35 has already been neutralised and negated by the Su-35-1/35BM and will be substantively overmatched by the PAK-FA. The West needs to think long, hard and fast about the PAK-FA, as the current and retrograde “F-35 centric” future fighter fleet model guarantees certain defeat in future combat.
PAK-FA rendering by NPO Saturn. Unlike the JSF, the stealthy PAK-FA is being designed with air superiority performance and high agility as the primary consideration. To date only speculative renderings have been released, making assessments difficult.