Russia draws back veil of secrecy with peek at future fighter
MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia carried out on Friday the first flight test of its fifth-generation fighter and revealed some details of its concept and design.
Russia has been developing its newest fighter since the 1990s. The current prototype was designed by the Sukhoi design bureau to compete with the U.S. F-22 Raptor, so far the world's only fifth-generation fighter, and the F-35 Lightning II.
"We started flight tests of the fifth-generation aircraft today. These planes, together with the modernized fourth generation aircraft will constitute the backbone of the Russian Air Force for the next few decades," said Mikhail Pogosyan, the head of the Sukhoi aircraft maker.
According to Sukhoi designers, the new fighter will feature advanced avionics, powerful vectored thrust engines, high-precision weaponry and stealth technology.
"The use of composite materials and advanced technologies, improved aerodynamics, and reduced engine heat signature minimizes its radio-frequency, optical and infrared visibility. All these features significantly boost the combat effectiveness of the plane," the Sukhoi maker said in a statement.
The aircraft is also expected to have a high cost-performance ratio and could become a new key item in Russia's arms exports in the future.
A spokesperson for the company earlier said the prototype showed "superb performance" during its maiden flight.
"It has met all our expectations during the maiden flight," said Olga Kayukova.
The Sukhoi company will continue flight tests of the fifth-generation fighter for several years, but Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the first batch of Russian fifth-generation fighters will go into service in 2013.
"The first Russian fifth-generation fighters will be put into service with the Air Force in 2013, and large-scale procurements will start in 2015," Putin said.
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