13 June 2013, 12:45

Russia’s fifth generation T-50 fighter jet through important testing stage

авиасалон МАКС-2011 Т-50

The Russian Army is through with the first stage of testing of a multipurpose fifth generation T-50 fighter jet. T-50 has been through years of research and hundreds of flights. Many of the plane’s performance characteristics are still a secret. According to the designers, what is not a secret is the fact that T-50 is better in terms of basic parameters than its foreign-made equivalents.

When one sees a T-50 in the air, the first idea that occurs to one is that planes just cannot fly like this, but if the plane is manned by a seasoned pilot, it will perform no end of stunts.

Modern-day combat planes will never again be what they used to be. Now it is a jet-fighter, an attack plane and a bomber all in one; a plane that can accomplish any mission. T-50 is a fifth generation plane, which means it is invisible to enemy radars; it means it’s the fastest plane, with the maximum speed exceeding 2,500 kilometres per hour; it means the plane is equipped with artificial intelligence (that is the aircraft thinks over and performs missions that the pilot was to take care of earlier).

According to a test pilot, Hero of Russia Sergei Bogdan, the pilot may abandon all of his controls on barely taking off, without even activating the auto-flight mode; the aircraft will never dive, but will maintain its horizontal flight. The plane may even start falling tail first, in which case it will by all means warn the pilot of the situation.

If something happens to the pilot during the flying mission, the jet fighter will be able to return to the base and even land there on its own. It is actually quite true that the T-50 offers its pilots many things on a silver platter. One such thing is an automatic target recognizer.

The jet fighter’s cover is suggestive of a living organism; it reacts to whatever happens around due to special transmitting-receiving elements that are virtually sewn into the jet-fighter’s body. This is also known as a smart cover.

Prior to T-50, it was the US F-22 Raptor, which was seen as the world’s smartest fifth generation jet fighter. But the Russian fighter plane is ahead of its US equivalent in several ways, namely T-50 is faster than F-22 Raptor by 500 kilometres per hour, it is lighter but can flight to greater distances. But the most important about T-50 is its equipment, which is hidden inside the aircraft. The PAK FA (another way of referring to T-50, meaning literally a ‘Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation’, made more than 500 flights in the years of secret testing. The designers have agreed that the flights have been normal.

The first deputy of the Chief Designer of the SUKHOI Designing Office, Mikhail Strelets, says the designers had understandably sought to attain a certain performance level, and he believes they have attained at the first stage what objectives were planned to be attained for that stage. Some flight characteristics are even better than expected, like a very good sustained supersonic cruise and super-manoeuvrability.

The achievements are largely due to the aircraft design, namely a small fin and no angles between surfaces. The arms will be stuffed into the interior, since the air reaction during manoeuvring is lower, and it is more difficult to spot the aircraft because of its special cover.

“We can now counter any threats, posed by our potential enemies. Our airborne complex will prove in no way inferior to the fifth-generation complexes built in the United States, conversely, it will prove superior to them. This makes us feel confident of the future”, said the President of the Sukhoi Aviation Military Industrial Combine, Mikhail Pogosyan.

Before pilots actually get at the control-wheel rim of the T-50, they are through a course of training at a special simulation centre. Even the catapult system is a whole new story, taking account of the weight of a pilot, flight speed etc, to ensure that the pilot will leave the plane safely.

Four T-50 jet fighters are already through with their test programme. Another one will be added to them by the end of the year. Batch manufacturing of T-50s is due to begin by 2015.

 Voice of Russia, TV Channel One

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