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Fifth generation fighter not priority for UAC

April 12, 2014, 21:08 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, April 12, /ITAR-TASS/. Creating a fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) is not a priority task for the United Aircraft Corporation President (UAC), its President Mikhail Pogosyan told ARMS-TASS on Saturday, April 12.

“I think a light version of the fifth generation aircraft may be created, but this task is not in our operational plans,” he said.

Instead, the UAC will focus on building MiG-29 fighter planes and upgrading them to the MiG-35 version.

Contracts with the Indian and Russian defence ministries under the MiG-29K/KUB programme require “the UAC to focus entirely on the completion of these aircraft”, Pogosyan said, adding that after that it would be necessary to decide whether “we should start working on a drone or a light version of the fifth generation aircraft”.

Speaking of the latter, Pogosyan said it would be ineffective to copy American technologies for a number of reasons because the Soviet and Russian aircraft-building industry had always developed in its own way in accordance with the current military doctrine.

The initial version of the fifth generation fighter aircraft being created jointly by India and Russia will be ready for flight testing in 2014, the Times of India said earlier, quoting the Chief of the Air Staff and Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne as saying.

“The two sides are close to signing a key contract expected to be worth over 11 billion U.S. dollars for research and development phase of the project in the near future,” the newspaper said.

“The first prototype of the FGFA is scheduled to arrive in India by 2014 after which it will undergo extensive trials at the Ojhar air base (Maharashtra)...we are hopeful that the aircraft would be ready for induction by 2022,” Browne told PTI.

The IAF Chief was in Russia in August 2012 to review the progress made in the programme and the prototypes of the aircraft developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau at Zhukovsky there, the newspaper said.

Browne reviewed the performance of the fifth generation fighter aircraft, called Sukhoi T-50.

“Russia has already given the draft R&D contract to us. It will include the cost of designing, infrastructure build-up at Ozar, prototype development and flight testing. So, India will have scientists and test pilots based both in Russia and Ozar during the R&D phase up to 2019. HAL will subsequently begin manufacturing the fighters,” the newspaper's source said.

Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) First Deputy Director Alexander Fomin said that India and Russia would need at least 6-10 years to build a fifth generation fighter aircraft.

“It takes some time to create a plane. The manufacture of such a sophisticated piece of equipment is a science-consuming process that requires big investments. At least six to ten years will pass before we build a sample of the fifth generation fighter plane and being its serial production,” Fomin said.

In the future, Russia and India plan to sell these planes not only on the national markets, but also in third countries. “We will export it in cooperation with Indian partners,” the official added.

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation will work on the new fighter plane.

According to Indian media reports, the two parties will invest 8-10 billion U.S. dollars in the project. Experts believe that the new plane will exceed Western analogues by the cost-efficiency criterion and will not only enhance the defence capabilities of the Russian and Indian navies, but will also take a worthy place on the world market.

World experience shows that it takes about 3-4 years to test new planes before their mass production can begin. Russia's new plane may as well fit into this schedule, especially since its maiden flight proved its reliability in different regimes.

Fifth generation planes are currently used only by the United States: F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning. However the Russian plane, tentatively called T-50, surpasses the American Raptor.

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