Russia has formally designated its T-50/ PAK-FA single-seat, fifth-generation fighter jet as Su-57 after the aircraft completed all its airframe tests and is ready for production, RBTH reported.
The advanced twin-engine multirole fighter aircraft, designed for air superiority and attack roles, still needs to undergo both weapons and engine testing before final production can begin.
The ninth prototype of the T-50 has been equipped with two Izdelie-30 fifth-generation engine which will be tested at the end of the year. The new engine is more powerful, quieter and more fuel efficient than the AL-41F1 engine that powers the earlier T-50 prototypes.
However, the first eight Su-57s rolled off the production line will “most likely have the old metal hearts (engines)” – RBTH reported quoting Viktor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of Arsenal Otechestva magazine.
The new engine will make the Su-57 capable of supercruise at 2,000 km/h (1,200 mph) – i.e, to maintain supersonic cruising speed without firing up afterburners. The aircraft can also fly over 5,000 kilometers with no air refueling or external fuel tanks.
Compared to the Izdelie-117, the engine is a new development and has already been installed in the latest Su-57. While Izdelie-117, that powers the original Su-27, is a modernized version of the AI-31 engine, the Izdelie-30 is a new development.
The new engine development is expected to complete by 2020 when the Su-57 stealth aircraft is expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) within the Russian Air Force.
The composite materials used to make the new fuselage will also improve the fighter’s stealth abilities, making it harder to detect on enemy radars.
Internal weapon bay also preserves the aircraft’s stealth and significantly reduces aerodynamic drag, thus preserving kinematic performance compared to performance with external stores.
The main avionics systems are the Sh121 multi-functional integrated radio electronic system (MIRES) and the 101KS Atoll electro-optical (E/O) system. The Sh121 consists of the N036 Byelka AESA radar system and L402 Himalayas electronic countermeasures (ECM) system.
Unlike previous prototypes, the ninth prototype of the Su-57 is equipped with the full set of radio-electronic equipment that will be installed on the completed version of the jet. This will allow the aircraft to evade all modern air defense systems, Murakhovksy explained.
The first phase of tests for the Su-57 demonstrated impressive control when traveling at both subsonic and supersonic speeds, as well as at various altitudes.
The T-50 has two tandem main internal weapon bays and two small triangular-section weapon bays that protrude under the fuselage near the wing root.
The aircraft has an internally mounted 9A1-4071K (GSh-301) 30 mm cannon near the right LEVCON root.
For air-to-air combat, the T-50 is expected to carry four beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles in its two main weapons bays and two short-range missiles in the wing root weapons bays. The main bays can also accommodate a variety of air-to-ground missiles and precision guided bombs.
For missions that do not require stealth, the T-50 can carry stores on its six external hardpoints.
Mass production will only start after the second stage of the tests is completed (weapons testing). According to the President of the United Aircraft Corporation, Yury Slyusar, the Russian Air Force will receive the first 12 Su-57 aircraft in 2019.
Competitors of Su-57:
The main competitors of the Su-57 will be the Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning operated by the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The Raptor has already been in service with the USAF for six years while Lightning is in the final stage of testing and deployment. The Su-57 is expected to be considerably cheaper than its American counterparts.
Other possible contender is China’s Chengdu J-20, which entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in March 2017.
Other fifth generation fighters currently under various stages of testing and development includes China’s Shenyang J-31, India’s HAL AMCA, Turkey’s TAI TFX, South Korea/Indonesia’s KF-X/IF-X and Japan’s Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin.
Other proposed nex generation fighter design includes Sweden’s Saab 2020 and, Russia’s Mikoyan LMFS and Mikoyan MiG-41.