Wednesday, February 04, 2015

T-50 Has Entered the Russian Air Force

via Defense-Aerospace.
The Russian Armed Forces began to accept into service the first fifth-generation aircraft, the T-50 (PAK FA), announced Yury Slyusar, head of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), on January 30 during an interview on the TV channel Russia-24.

The PAK FA will be subjected to qualification testing directly in the service of the armed forces. Currently, all T-50 prototypes are being tested in special flight centers. Mass delivery of the aircraft to the armed forces is expected in 2016.
Read it all here.



  2. This is likely the Russian equivalent of our own FOT&E as a function of sending early F-22s to the 57th FWW. They are building a core tactics curriculum around a limited fleet of aircraft which may or may not be functional at full operational standards (integrated comms, EW and radar, plus weapons, on a fully signature suppressed airframe).

    My own bet is that these are FSD jets without service ready avionics or stealth integration.

    It isn't stealthy, even FQ, so long that canopy has to slide between discrete bow frames, the IRST sensor is non shaped, the panels around the gun muzzle are so obviously 'heavy metal' and threat radar has a straight shot up the duct to the fan face. I am curious if there is a device in the inlet and how much ram recovery and/or available supersonic AOA flow stability is lost because of it.

    If weapons remain centered around the ARH based R-77 and R-37 as early concept art suggests (with Kh-38 and Kh-58U for HVT + SEAD) the aircraft may also have a hard time transitioning from long range acquisition/intercept to midrange BVR engagement. I do not believe that the S-Band (ala German FuG-220 of WWII) cuing system is going to prove the aid it is thought it would in cuing the X-Band nose aperture on the jet to sniff-track VLO targets and indeed, I am not sure that that is it's intended role in a BVR sense.

    And without that ability to hand-hand-shoot, the aircraft's principle use as a top tier air supremacy disabler to the Raptor will not be realized.

    I do believe T-50 will likely earn the 'Firefox' label that the Russians so badly desire for it (it will never be given) in terms of absolute, high-right, performance as it is simply a much lower drag airframe than the mixed-capability Raptor with the total wingarea to carry to 60-70K heights where that kind of MiG-25 performance is practical.

    But at the same time, I do not believe you will see it doing the kinds of things that the Raptors can do (800 knot conversions at 31dps sustained and 25,000ft) because the tails will not support it and the nozzles alone are a critical single-point failure mode, even if they have the total deflection authority to handle it (one of the compromises of AVEN is unidirectional 'throw' limits in trade for full articulation...).

    I also question the absolute Mach point as Pole boosting capability of the jet as, even if the airframe is Mach 2.6 capable as I've heard rumored, the ability of the RAM coatings to withstand those kinds of temps is likely limited and the heights necessary to keep from glowing like a veritable beacon in IR will also pose some unique environmental and tactical constraints similar to those suffered by 'Ironball' on the SR-71.

  3. In this it must also be noted that, to achieve the kinds of invulnerability to systems like ERINT and MEADS, the jet's own high speed will also mean compression of the BVR envelope with shots having to come off the jet a very long ways out indeed to enable a viable MCG window.

    This implies lofting of the principle R-37 and restriction of the R-77 to counter-missile defense while the R-73 will be all but useless. Lofted weapons go as far as their thermal batteries and autopilot control algorithms will allow for stable trajectories (AIM-54C was supposedly good to nearly 200,000ft) but they also give the target a lot of options in terms of flying out the sides of the engagement while the missile is all but monorailed in midcourse.

    Slowmo ISR drones and BMC2 standoff assets may prove to be very vulnerable however.

    Overall, this appears to me to be a 'best we can do' compromise which, while impressive given the up and down nature of Russian petronomics and the blatantly false-start of the MiG-1.44 and Su-47, is nonetheless an incomplete solution. I have little doubt it will completely dominate U.S. 4-gen jets if they are exposed to it but I have a feeling the FNOW condition of any war in the Ukraine will be driven by AGM-158B and Bombers as much as F-22/F-35 with confirmation of airbase kills _in Russia_ (by SOF sneak and peeking through the hole in the HAS or revement wall) being conditional to the release of legacy jets into the theater.

    This may provide the Russians with a dispersal ops as exploitable time window. Or it may not as the obvious thing to do, extending radius with tanking or FOL staging before recovery to a deeper interior airbase also implies a much longer sortie turn interval overall.



    Glamour 1

    Glamour 2

  4. The goal of the russians is to have a operational squadron by 2020 ( not IOC )
    IOC and LIRP will begin AFTER 2016.
    Russian testing is a little bit diffrent then in US, thoose PAK-FA prototypes that fly are something in between a Y/F and pre-LIRP.

    Once they hand thoose PAK-FAs currently flyining to the RuAF and after the RuAF says OK this works , just then they start production.

  5. Ambitious... but as many such programs it can get huge delays. Let them complete whole testing squadron and this alone will be great success.


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