ODK General Director Aleksandr Artyukhov has dampened the prospects for Russia’s developmental fifth generation fighter aircraft, the T-50 or PAK FA. Friday in Lukhovitsy at the presentation of the MiG-35, Artyukhov told RIA Novosti that R&D on PAK FA’s “second phase” engine won’t be complete until 2020.
This contrasts with the more hopeful announcement late last year from Sukhoy aircraft plant KnAAZ when the “second phase” engine or “item 30” commenced stand tests.
ODK’s Artyukhov told the media that the plan is to begin flight tests of the “second phase” engine this year.
Existing prototypes fly with the first phase or “item 117S” engine (AL-41F1S). However, “item 30” advertises reduced infrared signature, increased thrust, supercruise, improved fuel efficiency, and lower life-cycle costs.
Artyukhov’s predecessor said more than two years ago that a PAK FA with a “second phase” engine would not fly until 2017. ODK once hoped this would happen in 2015, but OAK’s former chief Mikhail Pogosyan said possibly not even before 2019.
But even with a tested “item 30” engine, it will be a challenge to integrate and test it fully this year. So the first PAK FA fighters to reach the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) will probably have “item 117S” engines.
As the PAK FA’s engine has slipped, so has the aircraft itself.
The VKS officially hopes to accept its newest fighter in 2017, and take delivery of five in late 2017 or 2018. It looks toward a total buy of 55 PAK FA.
However, in mid-2015, Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Borisov said the military would procure one squadron of 12 PAK FA. He didn’t commit to more. Borisov said Russia would buy fewer PAK FA than planned because the 4++ generation Su-35 is superior to new foreign fighters in many respects.