Adoption of T-50 into service was again postponed for a year.
The flight test program of a promising front-line aviation complex aviation (PAK FA) The T-50 is advancing quite successfully, but the aircraft itself is still far from being adopted. In this case, the final technical appearance of the fighter will be formed a few years after entering service. Part of the reason for this is the devastating 90s that drove the defense industry back decades ago, as well as the lack of reliable production facilities. But all difficulties can be overcome.
Today, four flight prototypes are taking part in the T-50 flight test program, and by the end of 2013, another aircraft must join it. All tests are carried out relatively successfully, as far as this can be judged from open sources. However, the fact that not everything goes smoothly is evidenced by the following fact: of the four airplanes, only three "fifties" took part in the flight program of the MAKS-2013 air show, held in Zhukovsky near Moscow in late August.
For the first time, they showed the public a group flight, middle and upper aerobatics, including flying in the ranks, flying, barrel, loop and the legendary Pugachev Cobra. However, it was originally planned that all four prototypes of a promising fighter would fly in the sky over Zhukovsky - they had to demonstrate the “rhombus” figure. However, in the “trimmed” group the planes showed themselves effectively, especially in the single aerobatic program demonstrated by test pilot Sergei Bogdan.
Difficulties are surmountable
Why only four aircraft were admitted to the flight program remains a mystery. Sukhoi either decided to save one for an expanded test program (the fourth T-50 prototype installed new avionics, including a radar with an active phased antenna array H050), or for some reason was unable to prepare a flight model of a promising fighter to demonstration flights.
An indirect indication that during the implementation of the development program for the T-50, "Sukhoi" faces various kinds of difficulties, this is the next postponement of the adoption of the fighter into service. In the course of the same MAKS-2013 air show, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force, Lieutenant-General Viktor Bondarev, announced that the T-50 would enter service only in the 2017 year.
Earlier, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense announced that T-50 would be serially supplied to troops from 2015 of the year, but later revised this period and called the new date 2016. If in a year or two the military suddenly declares that the T-50, the first Russian fifth generation, will start to enter the troops in the 2018 or 2019 year, you should not be surprised. However, it is categorical to say that everything is bad with the PAK FA. According to Bondarev, the Air Force will receive the first T-50 flight model for testing at the end of the 2013. And by the middle of the summer of this year, all the flight prototypes of the fighter had already completed more than 500 flights.
But to say that the program is moving in strict accordance with the original plans, is also impossible. Recall that in the 2010, it was asserted that in the 2013, the Lipetsk center for combat use and retraining of flight crews would receive the first ten T-50 prototype machines. Now we can confidently say that it will not receive. If only because these ten machines are not built. In the gland, there are only five T-50, the construction of the sixth aircraft has been approved, but for the remaining four PAK FA there is no reliable information.
These understandable difficulties are partly due to the devastating 90 years, when, due to the collapse of the USSR, the need to form a new economy, and then a large-scale crisis, the military programs were almost curtailed. The victims were the projects of the fifth generation fighter MiG-1.44 and Su-47. However, some of the developments obtained during the creation of the latter, was used in the design of the PAK FA. In particular, the production capacity of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant does not yet allow for a large-scale production of T-50, this will require significant investments.
In addition, in the 90-x there is a significant lag in the Russian electronics industry, the result of which is a long design and production of new electronic systems. Because of this, the transceiver modules of the onboard T-50 radar are today not being produced at one of the developer’s enterprises (in this case, the Tikhomirov Scientific Research and Development Institute), but individually at the Istok Research and Production Enterprise in Fryazino near Moscow. Such piece production makes the whole system more expensive and negatively affects the production time, although the radar itself shows excellent characteristics for a promising aircraft.
In general, of the entire project, it seems, only the aircraft armament, developed by Tactical Missile Armament Corporation, corresponds to all terms. Some of the missiles for the new combat aircraft are ready and undergoing tests, the other is in the final stages of development. At the same time, all prospective munitions are awaiting approval for testing on board their carrier. Such tests may begin by the end of 2013. In the meantime, the development of new weapons can only be done on Su-35 fighters.
No well-defined clarity and with the so-called power unit for the second stage T-50. Currently, the latest prototypes of the aircraft, and in the future the first production models, fly with the help of AL-41Ф1 engines (“117 Product”), which are largely unified with the AL-41Ф1С power units (“117С”) for Su-35 . Later, if all goes according to plan, T-50 get its own fifth-generation engines, which are known as "Type 30». For these engines, the work is almost in its infancy: by the end of 2013, the Lyulka Design Bureau should only complete the technical design of the power units and release the technical documentation necessary for the production of the gas generator demonstrator and the engine.
The development work on the 30 Type project is expected to be completed in 2015 – 2016. However, it should be borne in mind that the novelty of power plants and their technical complexity will require careful bench and flight tests. According to various estimates, the fifth-generation Russian fighter jets will see the new power units only in 2025 – 2027. The project of power plants includes several stages: the development of a low-pressure compressor, a gas generator, a high-pressure compressor, a combustion chamber, a high-pressure turbine, a low-pressure turbine, an afterburner, and a nozzle.
All these challenges, which are not officially confirmed, it can be overcome and the Russian government is aware of them. In any case, during the development and adoption of the State Weapons Program for 2011 – 2020, it was provided not only to finance the purchase and development of new weapons and military equipment in the amount of 20 trillion rubles, but also to conduct research and development, industrial complex and rejuvenation of personnel. In addition, it is planned to spend more than three trillion rubles on the last points before 2020. However, budget constraints that currently confront the Russian authorities, can make some adjustments to these plans.
But in general, the mood of the Russian authorities is encouraging. The positive factors include the greater openness of the authorities and, in particular, the military department on the state defense order, the provision of government loans and guarantees for the debt obligations of enterprises of the national defense industry and the willingness of direct financial participation in projects that are risky, but important for the country's defense.
In the meantime, the prospective Russian fighter aircraft (the Ministry of Defense has already acquired 60 aircraft, the Air Force’s need for T-50 vehicles is estimated at 150 – 200 units) little is known. Despite the fact that the PAK FA, starting with the MAX-2011, for three years performing public missions, the project is still classified. Unknown technical or flight characteristics of the promising machine.
Previously it was officially announced only that the fighter uses several stealth technologies, and composite materials are widely used in its design. The aircraft will be distinguished by high intellectualization of the board, will be able to take off and land on the runway with a length of 300 – 400 meters and perform combat missions in any weather and time of day. The Russian fighter will also be super-manoeuvrable and capable of cruising at supersonic speeds.
The main difference between the T-50 and other heavy fighters will be the presence of not only the main radar station, but also the rear and side active and passive radar radars. These systems will have to provide the fighter-round visibility. aircraft armament can hit airborne targets not only in front but also in the rear hemisphere. Obtain all the necessary information about the air situation T-50 pilots will be able to thanks to the new system of displaying data on the helmet display. The creation of such a system is engaged in research and production enterprise "Star". The new helmet for the system is developed on the basis of the protective helmet ZSh-10.
Fighters and UAVs of the sixth generation
It is curious that although the work on the project of the fifth generation fighter is still far from completion, the Russian enterprises of the military-industrial complex have already begun to create a sixth generation fighter. In any case, this in late August, said the former Russian Air Force Commander General of the Army Pyotr Deinekin. At the same time, he nevertheless noted that “we are unlikely to succeed in jumping through the generations,” which means that before entering the troops of the sixth generation Air Force planes, we will have to master the fifth. Test pilot Sergei Bogdan suggested that the creation of the sixth generation of combat aircraft will be completed no earlier than in 15 years. “It would seem that technologies are developing fast enough, but still from the fourth generation fighter to the fifth generation, 35 years passed,” Bogdan said, noting that despite the promising fighters becoming unmanned, manned aircraft will live for a long time. What will be the sixth-generation Russian fighter is still unknown. The US Department of Defense refers to the sixth generation of combat aircraft capable of flying without a pilot at hypersonic speed (more than five Machs, about 5,8 thousands of kilometers per hour), and also operate in areas with full or partial prohibition or restriction of maneuvers.
In addition to reports on the development of the sixth generation fighter, it is also interesting that Sukhoi is developing a heavy assault unmanned aerial vehicle, which will use the technologies of a promising aviation front-line aviation complex. This was at the air show "MAX-2013» in Zhukovsky said Mikhail Pogosyan, president of United Aircraft Corporation. The mass of the new shock drone will be about 20 tons.
It is possible that only the control system will be used in drones, composite materials, stealth technology and some of the technical solutions of the fuselage. Some experts suggested that Sukhoi would create a smaller unmanned version of the T-50 fighter, although the expediency of such a decision raises many questions. The mass of the empty T-50 is assumed to be 18 tons, and the maximum take-off is 37 tons. However, it is not yet known for what purposes such a large drone can be used and which weapon he will bear.
In case of successful implementation of the project of a drone drone, a Russian aircraft may become the heaviest percussion apparatus of this class in the world. For example, satellite-controlled MQ-1C Gray Eagle drums used by Americans can carry weapons and sensors with a total weight of up to 450 kilograms. The maximum take-off weight of such devices - 1,6 tons. Strategic intelligence apparatus RQ-4 Global Hawk, capable of operating at high altitude over 28 hours, weapons can not be held. Its maximum take-off weight is 14,6 tons. The Israeli drone drone Heron-TP (in the Israeli Air Force, it is in service under the symbol Eitan), comparable in size to the passenger aircraft Boeing 737, weighs only 4,7 tons. It can carry weapons and sensors total weight up to two tons, to be in the air 70 hours and to fly at speeds up 370 kilometers per hour.
Sukhoi is creating a drone drone under a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense, signed in July 2012. The project involved the domestic aircraft manufacturing corporation "MiG", previously designed its own shock drone Scat. For the Russian military department, an attack drone weighing up to five tons and a reconnaissance weight of up to a ton is also being developed. The last two projects involved the company "Falcon" and "Transas".
As a result, we can say the following. The development of the fifth generation fighter is extremely important for Russia, not only because of the need to maintain the Air Force fleet at a high technological level. This project will allow you to get developments and technical solutions that will later form the basis for promising projects, including UAVs and sixth-generation fighters. It will also provide an opportunity to more actively promote domestic science and support the economy through the creation of jobs, as well as the export of new combat aircraft. According to Sukhoi, the demand of the world market for combat aircraft in fifth-generation Russian fighters is about 600 units. India will buy 200 from them as part of a joint FGFA project (creating a fighter for the Indian Ministry of Defense based on T-50), 200 - Russia, and the rest of the 200 aircraft will be supplied to third countries.