With Alexey Komarov
A few further musings on the Sukhoi T-50. A side shot of the aircraft shows the reduced area all-moving fins. The fins along with being smaller are canted out – as is now near traditional on low observable designs.
Along with what appear to be two main weapons bays in the tunnel between the engines the design is believed to have two smaller housings for short-range weapons on the inboard wing. The infra-red search and track housing is also visible.
The T-50 - intended to meet the Russian air force’s PAK FA fighter requirement - reflects far greater shaping for signature management than MiG’s 1.44 prototype, though this is hardly surprising given when the basic design for the big MiG was developed in the mid-1980s. The MiG program was cancelled a decade later as Russian defense spending collapsed.
The T-50 design also exhibits greater LO shaping characteristics than the Sukhoi’s S.37 forward swept wing technology demonstrator, based on the S.32 design. Again the lineage of the forward swept wing program goes back to the mid-1980s
Sukhoi faces a considerable challenge if the notional 2015 date is to be met. The T-50 development isn’t the only combat type now in the flight test program; two Su-35S prototypes are now in flight test, with the aircraft being flown from Zhukovsky.
The Su-35S is also being used to develop some of the avionics and systems destined for the PAK FA, though the task that lies ahead for Sukhoi and the wider Russian aerospace industry is significant.
Read our Aviation Week story: Russian Fifth-Generation Fighter Airborne.
Picture credits Russia TV coverage
MiG 1.44 D. Barrie/AW&ST