Sukhoi has successfully conducted the maiden test flight of the Russian Air Force’s fifth T-50 multirole fighter aircraft at YA Gagarin KnAAZ aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia. Performed by first class test pilot Roman Kondratiev, the 50-minute flight successfully validated the aircraft’s overall performance, including its stability in the air, and functioning of the propulsion systems. The test flight also confirmed the reliability of all systems and equipment of the aircraft. Following completion of the Komsomolsk test flights, the aircraft is scheduled to join the previous four T-50 fighters at the ground and flight testing programme that is currently underway at the Zhukovsky airfield, near Moscow, according to the company. The ground testing also involves an additional two airframes, with one as a complex ground stand, while the other undergoes static tests. The programme has to date completed more than 450 flights.
Developed as part of Moscow’s Future Aviation System for Tactical Air Force (PAK FA) programme, the Sukhoi T-50 is designed to replace the Russian Air Force’s ageing MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker aircraft fleet. Powered by two Saturn-Lyulka 117S turbofan engines, the multirole fighter is equipped with radar-evading stealth technology, and can perform supersonic flights at speeds of more than 2,000km/h, and in-flight refuelling missions. The 18,500kg aircraft also features short take-off and landing capabilities and an advanced avionics suite, including an X-band active phased-array radar and electronic warfare subsystems. The aircraft is set to undergo state trials in March 2013, while its entry into operational service with the Russian air force, which intends to acquire a total of 60 aircraft, is planned for 2015.
Image: A PAK-FA T-50 fighter aircraft during its flight. Photo: courtesy of Alex Beltyukov.