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Sizing Up Sukhoi's PAK FA 5th Gen Fighter

Via Steeljaw Scribe, comes this open-source examination of Russia’s 5th gen fighter, the Sukhoi built PAK FA (which may now go by Su-50), put together by two analysts from the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). The PAK FA’s maiden flight was on 29 January; it isn’t expected to enter Russian service until 2015. The brief examines the PAK FA’s development and compares it to the F-22; most of the commentary comes from an examination of available images and video of the new fighter.

De-constructing the Sukhoi PAK-FA (Su-50)

The brief says the PAK FA has been designed to win a close-in, air-to-air dogfight; when stealth fighters square off, they will get very close before targeting radars are able to lock-on an opponent. The PAK FA’s Infra-Red Scan and Track (IRST) might be the first sensor to pick up an enemy stealth aircraft; the F-22 lacks an (IRST). In a close in “knife fight,” the extreme agility of the PAK FA may allow it to outmaneuver the F-22 and its larger weapons load may prove advantageous as well.

The analysts have their doubts about Russia’s ability to afford development and production of the super costly fighter; their grasp of the production and maintenance difficulties surrounding low-observable coatings; the ability of Russia’s composites industry to deliver; and the technological maturity of the fighter’s avionics and sensors.

UPDATE: Steeljaw Scribe, for whatever reason, deleted the brief from Scribd. Fear not, the more web resourceful than I am Stephen Trimble over at DEW Line has posted a copy.

-- Greg

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