Russia’s Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter may enter service in 2018, but the Kremlin is not in a particular hurry to buy the expensive new jet in large numbers. Meanwhile, Russia is continuing to develop new engines for the T-50, which is currently powered by interim Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofans.
Russian deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov told the TASS News agency. “Most likely, this will be already the next state armament program, i.e. 2018-2025.”
It is first necessary to complete the fighter jet’s trials, the deputy defense minister said.
“We are not in a hurry,” Borisov said.
As long as the existing analogs meet the requirements of the Armed Forces, there is no need spending money on the purchase of expensive new military hardware, he said.
In the meantime, the Russians are continuing to develop the next-generation Saturn izdeliye 30—sometime referred to as the izdeliye 129—engines for the T-50. There are few details available about the izdeliye 30 engines, but the new powerplant is expected to deliver 24,054lbs dry thrust and 39,566lbs of afterburning thrust. The new engine is expected to make its first flight installed onboard the PAK-FA in the fourth quarter of 2017.
“The first flight of the aircraft with the new engine is expected in the fourth quarter of 2017,” a United Engine Corporation spokesman told TASS.
With the new engine installed, the PAK-FA should be able to offer kinematic performance comparable to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor—cruising without afterburner at speeds exceeding Mach 1.5 with a maximum speed greater than Mach 2.0 at altitudes of around 60,000ft. “Performance-wise it certainly looks to compete with the Raptor,” one senior military official with extensive experience on U.S. fifth-generation fighters told me some time ago.
The F22 has a Pratt and Whitney F119 engine. It is an afterburning turbofan engine that delivers thrust in the 35,000 lbf (160 kN) class. It is designed for supersonic flight without the use of afterburner (supercruise). Delivering almost 22% more thrust with 40% fewer parts than conventional, fourth-generation military aircraft engine models, the F119 allows sustained supercruise speeds of up to Mach 1.8