Russia’s fifth-generation stealth jet fighter will be ready for use in 2015, its designer said on Monday, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pressed the aviation industry to design a new strategic bomber.
Moscow is scrambling to update its ageing fleet of military aircraft. It test-flew a long-awaited stealth fighter at the end of January, presenting it as Moscow’s first all-new warplane since the 1991 Soviet collapse and a challenge to the technological supremacy of its Cold War foe the United States.
Asked to compare his brainchild to the US F-22 Raptor, built more than a decade ago, the Russian jet’s chief designer Alexander Davydenko told reporters: “The basic features are the same but we tried to do it better.”
He said Sukhoi, which produced the T-50 prototype of the jet, had simulated duels with the US stealth fighter.
“I think we will have a competitive price. As for the efficiency-and-cost ratio, we will be much better,” Davydenko said.
The first MiG-29 and Su-27 prototypes of the previous fourth generation took to the air in 1977. Analysts say several nations, including Libya and Vietnam, had expressed interest in the fifth-generation fighter.
Putin, who toured Sukhoi’s design bureau in Moscow on Monday, said Russia still had much work to do before it starts producing the plane.
“Before this machine can go into serial production, there are over 2,000 test flights left. There is still a lot of work ahead,” he told a government meeting on the aviation industry.