So, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin watched a test flight yesterday of the Sukhoi built T-50 PAK-FA fighter, nosed around its cockpit, and promptly declared it better than the F-22 Raptor. Now that’s an impressive marketing campaign; although, I’m not sure how much real cred the Putin seal of approval carries. I do know the Russians are desperate to revive the fortunes of a flagging defense industry whose products must now compete globally with low cost Chinese knock-offs.
“This machine will be superior to our main competitor, the F-22, in terms of maneuverability, weaponry and range," Putin told the pilot after the flight, according to an account on the government website.
Putin said the plane would cost up to three times less than similar aircraft in the West and could remain in service for 30 to 35 years with upgrades, according to the report.”
I wonder if the F-22 loving (and JSF hating) Air Power Australia folks have anything to say about the PAK-FA versus the Raptor. Oh, look, here's a comparison:
“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.”
(Video of the test flight below).
Now, while the Air Power Australia guys put together some often impressive analyses, they are a very biased source:
“In basic grand strategy terms, the arrival of the PAK-FA leaves the United States with only one viable option if it intends to remain viable in the global air power game - build enough F-22 Raptors to replace most of the US legacy fighter fleet, and terminate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as soon as possible, as the F-35 will no longer be a usable combat aircraft for roles other than Counter Insurgency (COIN), though more cost effective and more appropriate solutions already exist for this role.”
I think we’ll have to await further testing and some closer looks at the PAK-FA before making any conclusions.
-- Greg Grant