The prototype russian PAK DA stealth bomber may hit the skies before 2021. Russia is trying to spin this as a good thing.
“The maiden flight should be performed in 2019. State tests and supplies will be completed in 2023,” Russian Air Force chief Col. Gen. Bondarev told RIA Novosti in May 2014. Under the previous plan, the bomber had been expected to become operational in 2025. However, that timeline was always optimistic. With the first flight delayed, the rest of the PAK-DA’s schedule is likely to shift to as well—with operational testing and operational capability being delayed by several years.
The PAK-DA is expected to be a subsonic flying-wing aircraft that is roughly analogous to the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit and the U.S. Air Force’s forthcoming Long Range Strike-Bomber. Flying wings lend themselves well to low observable characteristics—particularly against low frequency radars operating in the UHF and VHF bands—but manufacturing could still be an issue. The PAK-DA will likely feature advanced avionics—including a new radar, communications suite and electronic warfare systems. Meanwhile, the PAK-DA’s engines, which are being developed by the Kuznetsov design bureau, are an advanced derivative of the Tu-160’s NK-32 turbofans.
The PAK-DA will not be a small aircraft. It is expected to have a maximum gross take-off weight of about 250,000lbs—about the size of a Boeing 757 airliner.
Field tests of the first prototype engine of the PAK DA long-range aviation aircraft were undertaken successfully recently, engine maker JSC Kuznestsov said. This marks another milestone in the development of the aircraft.
By 2014, the project reached development stages: the developers identified and formed the tactical and technical data of the PAK DA, including an approximate weight of 125 tons (with a combat load of 30 tons), a range of 12,500 km, and subsonic flight.
SOURCES – Russia and India Report, Sputnik News, National Interest, Wikipedia