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Russian F-22 (PAK-FA) First Test Flight Revealed

Thanks to several tipsters who alerted me to the public release of a test flight of the Russian 5th-generation fighter prototype: the so-called PAK-FA, or in English, "Future Air Complex for Tactical Air Forces." Some observers also show it dubbed the T-50.

It looks as if the Russians are trying their hand at an F-22 knock off, with a v-tail, large monolithic wing surface and centerboard intakes. The thing literally looks like a Mig-29 cockpit bolted onto a hacked F-22 stern.

According to Global Security.org, the Sukhoi-built PAK-FA sports two giant AL-41F engines and has a crub weight of about 40,000 pounds -- a bit less than the F-22.

Given the budgetary hassles surrounding the American F-22 program and the trajectory that tactical aviation is taking into the UAV world, it stands to reason that Russia slash Sukhoi may run into the same sticker shock LockMart is encountering with American taxpayers. I hear that India is playing some role in the development of the PAK-FA, so that may help defray the costs and justify continued development.

But wasn't it Russia that developed the simple, reliable, cost-efficient Kalashnikov? Why are they always trying to play on the wiz-bang high-tech turf America has dominated for the last 50 years in high-end military hardware? I guess it's more a question of what the big-money buyers want (China, India), rather than what's worked best in the past.

-- Christian

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