Russia's Newest Fighter Lands at Test Base

Russia's T-50 fighter conducts an aerial demonstration.
Russia's T-50 fighter conducts an aerial demonstration.

Russia's latest version of the Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet recently arrived at a test base outside Moscow.

The fifth and latest prototype for Russia's fifth-generation stealth fighter program -- one of only a few in development around the world -- landed Nov. 11 at the Gromov Flight Research Institute in Zhukovsky, about 25 miles southeast of Moscow. A video of the arrival was posted today on YouTube.

Moscow-based Sukhoi Co. is building the single-seat, twin-engine T-50 for the Russian air force as part of the PAK FA program. The aircraft is designed to succeed both the MiG-29 and the Su-27 in the Russian fleet, with top speeds of more than Mach 2, or about 1,327 miles per hour.

That's faster than the F-35 Lighting II made by Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp. for the Joint Strike Fighter program, but not as speedy as the F-22 Raptor, also made by Lockheed -- the world's largest defense contractor.

The Russian warplane may be used in limited numbers to attack enemy radar, support aircraft and other targets with long-range missiles. The country only plans to buy about 70 of the aircraft, including 10 prototypes.


While the T-50 first flew in 2010, the latest version of the plane, known as T-50-5, has been upgraded with a new paint design, antennas fitted into the leading-edge root extension and a partially integrated distributed aperture system, a source wrote in an e-mail to The latter is Russia's attempt to answer the F-35's DAS technology.

Made by Northrop Grumman Corp., the AN/AAQ-37 is the "only 360-degree, spherical situational awareness system," designed to warn pilots of incoming aircraft and missile threats, and to provide them with day- and night-vision, fire-control and precision-tracking of friendly aircraft, according to the Falls Church, Va.-based company.

It wasn't immediately clear what kind of testing the latest version of the jet will undergo. Russia has reportedly delayed the start of operational flights of the T-50 by a year to 2016.

Russia didn't bring any of the new fighters to the Paris Air Show in June, opting instead to show off the aircraft at its own event in Zhukovsky in August. (Though the country still stole headlines in Paris with aerial demonstrations of its Su-35 fighter and the Ka-52 attack helicopter, among other aircraft.)

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