Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Russian Sukhoi T-50: Yet Another Pipe Dream?


Flight International has pointed out what may be the first pictures of the T-50 fighter: the follow-on to the Soviet era Sukhois. Yet, forgive me for my skepticism - it may be misplaced! - but...I can't help but feel this is like the Kliper which is doing its best impression of a limbo or the so-called T-95 tank or those wunderbar ballistic missiles that aren't even close to ready for the SSBN that was just launched.

Forgive me, but I don't believe that Russia has the technical capacity to produce a "5th generation" fighter. The above looks too much like someone had fun with a renderer.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Forgive me, but I don't believe that Russia has the technical capacity to produce a "5th generation" fighter.

Have you been working for the Russian defense industry to come up with that statement? :)
The Su-30 MKI is already a russian 4.5 generation aircraft which has all the characteristics of the Raptor except stealth and maybe better BVR capabilities.

The purpose of the PAK-FA program that Russia and India have come up with, is to produce a low cost 5 gen aircraft. Yes it may not be as good as the Raptor, but hell yes its goin to be 5 gen aircraft, and a lot more cheaper...

Did the US have a 5th gen aircraft before the Raptor??
No !!!
Russia has already been in the 4.5 gen aircraft business, and the next inevitable step is definitely a 5th gen aircraft...

Unknown said...

pues me parece algo irrespetuoso el comentario de el primer participante, claro que los rusos tienen la tecnologia para diseñar y poner a volar un avion de estas caracteristicas, nada mas mirar los modelos su-35, su-37 y aparte del su-47 berkut.

Anonymous said...

historicaly russians have build better aircrafts than americans. I think, Russians 5th gen airplane will be more capable and with more manoeuvrability and range than the raptor. The new SU-35 is way better than anything 4th or 4.5 gen the Americans have.
The falacy that russian weapons are of less quality than americans is that Americans have never wage war with another strong nation with the latest russian technology in their armies.

For expample, if Venezuela buys 500 of the latest SU-35 and hundreds of S-400 anti aircraft defense szstems, helicopters and tanks and america tries to invade Venezuela, the Americans will be defeated. they dont stand a chance not with even the most advance stealth aircraft they will scape S-400 detection.

If the ifantries of venezuela are equiped (as they are planning to do) with the latest technologies (body armors, communicatios, anti tank missiles etc ala future warrior) and fight gerrilla war, Americans dont stand a chance. Period.

So American superiority is a falacy, since they have only attacked poor countries with weak and outdated equipment in the past. (Vietnam, Korea, Irak, Afaganistan, etc)

Anonymous said...

The T-50 has the potential actually of exceeding the F-22 in performance. Performance wise, apparently the F-35 is a downgrade from the F-22 in all but cost as it is already, and Obama has decided to cut spending on new powerplant development.

With the T-50, the Stealth tech is there, I see plenty of evidence of Super-maneuverability tech pioneered in Flanker variants and tech demonstrators such as the Su-35, Su-37 and the Su-47 Berkut. People give the project a lot of flak because it doesn't have a Next Gen engine ready yet, or next gen radar systems.

Now the important things to consider before saying it's doomed to fail or fall behind is that first, it's being built with all the lessons learned from one of the most enduring airframes to come out of the Cold War, the Su-27 Flanker, which the Gen 4.5 variants of some people consider to be competitive even against even the F-22 and F-35. Secondly, while much of the Russian military industry has suffered degradation, Sukhoi itself has come out largely intact. Third, a significant portion of the funding in the project is coming from India as well as from Russia.

Now what I predict is that it will likely be behind the F-22 in stealth Tech (But ahead the F-35 likely), but it will be ahead in maneuverability. Tactics will be devised to allow it to perform the same original mission of the Su-27, penetrate hostile airspace to seek and destroy strategic assets both in the air and on the ground... while also being able to take off and land from shorter, damaged or even improvised runways with little difficulty whenever it is necessary... the damaging and destruction of runways could be disastrous to F-22s and all but the VTOL variant of the F-35, while the same circumstances would have a less dramatic effect on a fleet of T-50s.

Will Baird said...

Ok, my own predictions.

The T-50, at best, will match the F-35 in stealth. Why? First off, note from the video that when the Sukhoi boss is speaking there is a view of the side of the T-50. The panel immediately viewable is riveted. Now, that's not something you want to do with a Low observables aircraft.

There are obvious and protruding weapons mounts on the wings. These are not RCS reduced signature friendly.

Likewise, the exhaust on the T-50 is not shaped in any useful way for signature reduction either.

In terms of flight capability, it is possible this is better than the Raptor. The Russians do make a fast and quick on its...erm...feet plane.

The big unknown is the sensor suite. Russian milspec eletronics have fallen waaaaaaaaaaaay behind the curve. That and the data links are really, truly important in First Class engagements.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that an additional unknown is just how far along (if at all) the Russians research into "Plasma Cloud Stealth" may have advanced. Theoretically, Plasma Cloud Stealth could allow an aircraft to exceed the F-22 while maintaining a design better suited for maneuvering. But this is a very big "If". I'd imagine that the Rivets will be worked out of the design with time this is the prototype after all, though the external hard points are likely to remain, though it's not a stretch that future variants (Particularly those purchased abroad) could omit these along with using a different intake and an RCS friendlier 2D-Thrust Vectoring design... but again, the primary model will likely emphasize maneuverability over stealth. Evidence of this mentality was apparent with the Su-47 "Berkut" tech demonstrator.

Something I'd like to see is how it's radar signature would appear from above. I believe that the Russians would theorize that if they can perfect a minimal radar signature from the top section at least, then even though they'd likely be jumped first by F-22s, unless the missile is launched from close range, Missile Evasion could be accomplished by quickly exposing the top section to the direction a detected missile is approaching from by utilizing the aircraft's exceptional maneuverability, deploy necessary counter measures, and then proceed to force the offending bandit/s into a close range engagement and attempt to bring any advantages in maneuverability to bear. This is just my theory at least.

To be completely honest, I scoff at people who say that missiles will make the gun obsolete in Air-to-Air engagements. I personally believe that stealth will make missiles obsolete before missiles can achieve the reliability to make the gun obsolete.