Home » News » Around the Globe » Fighter Porn: Russia’s PAK FA Stealth Jet

Fighter Porn: Russia’s PAK FA Stealth Jet

by John Reed on August 15, 2011

Check out these gorgeous photos of Russia’s two Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA stealth fighters. The shot above clearly shows the second test aircraft, T-50–02, equipped with mission systems (notice what might be an electronic warfare mounting protruding from the tail) followed by the first aircraft, T-50–01, that’s being used to test out the airframe design. Both jets are sporting a new camouflage paint scheme and this may be T-50–02’s first flight in roughly four months. The Russian fighter supposedly sacrifices stealth for greater maneuverability against western fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The next couple of photos show the T-50 and the wildly-painted Su-35S as they may be preparing for the MAKS 2011 airshow in Moscow.

Look at this last photo of the T-50 where the airplane bears a resemblance to the YF-23 Black Window; Northrop’s losing competitor to Lockheed’s F-22 in the Advanced Tactical Fighter contest.

Keep in mind that Sukhoi is already planning on co-producing the jet with India and South Korea recently expressed interest in the plane, making the PAK FA the first foreign competitor to U.S. stealth jets on the international market. If the Russians can keep costs down and production on schedule it may well provide stiff competition for the F-35 as nations seek to acquire 5th-generation fighter technology.

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{ 123 comments… read them below or add one }

Davey August 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Wow Roy, you really don't know anything. Consider the fact that maneuverability is only as good as the G's a pilot can withstand…which isn't anywhere near what the aircraft can withstand. Plus, I would like to see that POS maneuver around the avionic and weapons systems the US has. An F-4 could take that damn thing outa the Air before the Russians could even see it. And BTW, the Obog system on the fighters are fixed. Now get back to work and stop bloggin

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Roy Smith August 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm

You didn’t get the sarcasm about the fact that our F-22′s & F-35′s are grounded? We can’t prove s**t as long as our stealth fighters are on the ground,which,the last thing I heard,was still the case. I was also going to add,”I’d like to see their jets go against our hypersonic glider……..uh,as soon as we find it(the hypersonic glider).” I’m very sure our “outdated” F-15′s & F-16′s can handle themselves quite well against these Russian planes,along with the “non-stealth” F/A-18 Super Hornet,& the “inferior” Eurofighter Typhoon,Dassault Rafale,& Saab Gripen. I just wonder when we’ll see the F-22 [back] & F-35 [finally] in the air?

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SuperiorIQ August 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm

The Eurofighter Typhoon is superior to ALL the American "teen" fighters and is only inferior to the F-22 and the F-35. Please get informed before saying nonsenses.

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Tom August 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I don't believe that the Typhoon is 'superior' to an AESA equipped F-15, F-16, or F-18.

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Roy Smith August 15, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I was mocking the F-22/F-35 cool-aid drinkers when I said what I did about the above mentioned “non-stealth” aircraft.

Stratege August 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Eurocanards including the Typhoon are not superior to the Su-35S (the latest serial production Su, also known as Su-35BM). In terms of range, payload, radar and weapons, euro fighters are not as good as a top-notch Flanker.
In terms of maneuverability they are quite on par, but Su has better low to medium speed agility because of engine with a 3D TVC.

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jhm August 16, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Well, in case of a war, these fighters would be scrambled nevertheless.

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jhm August 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm

my bad, ww3

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David August 16, 2011 at 7:07 am

Sorry Davey, but you are mistaken on a few things, but the one I'll point out is that the OBOG is still inop and the F-22A is still down for the count. You're probably thinking of the IPP on the F-35 that has been addressed and the aircraft are now cleared for ground tests once again, but they are still grounded pending the ground test results.

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Roy Smith August 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm

“The Russian fighter supposedly sacrifices stealth for greater maneuverability against western fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

Well,that’s not saying much right now since our “cutting edge” stealth fighters ARE GROUNDED seemingly indefinitely.

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Oblat August 16, 2011 at 12:57 am

Stealth = you wont see them in a shooting war anytime soon.

But the statement is the wrong way around. It is well known that the F-22 and particularly the F-35 both sacrifice stealth for maneuverability compared to the F-23 configuration.

The Pak-Fa looks like it will have greater maneuverability and a better stealth configuration.

Actually the F-35 performs like a beached whale in combat so one wonders just how bad it would have been if the tradeoffs hadn't been made.

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Ben August 16, 2011 at 2:30 am

I recall reading an excerpt from some Navy brass (I believe it was here on DT recently) saying that the F-35C handles almost exactly like an F-18. And I'm too lazy to cite it right now, but I also remember reading another quote from a military official claiming that the A and B variants handle much like an F-16. Call me crazy, but those fighters can handle themselves pretty well in a dogfight. And I would hardly call them "beached whales."

I told myself I was done posting on this topic but this was too bold of a claim.

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jhm August 16, 2011 at 11:49 pm

seriously, one of the requirements for the jsf procurement was agility equaling or exceeding present legacy fighters. I believe it was said that the x32 adn x35 met these requirements. Mike Spick's book Modern Fighters has this info. Those who can seemingly "read" the future should read this, but i guess in the future you won't need to read, don't worry, there might be a audio book of it.

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Guest August 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

I plane that has never flown a combat mission performs like a beached whale in combat?

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PMI August 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm

"Well known" or not the YF-22 was more maneuverable than the YF-23 whereas the YF-23 had a slightly higher top speed & lower RCS.

You're trolling is just becoming silly.

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Davey August 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm

The Northrop YF-23 aircraft was superior in every way to the "Craptor". The US needed to ensure Lockheed didn't go under so they purchased it. But just copying the appearance of the airframe doesn't mean squat.

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David August 16, 2011 at 7:10 am

I agree with you on the point that the YF-23 was the better performing airframe, but I'm not entirely sold on the thought that the U.S. protected Lockheed. If anything, I believe the unconventional, before-its-time appearance and design worked against it. That and Northrop was in the heart of what I refer to as the "unofficial blackball" era. That company made a number of good jets in the 1970s and early 1980s (YF-23, F-20, YF-17), but no one would buy them until the USAF was essentially forced to buy a few B-2s.

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blight August 16, 2011 at 9:05 am

LM did really well in the late '80s. F-117 was a treat but the real prize was the B-2, which we all know Northrop won in the end. However, without the B-2 Northrop might not have survived the defense crunch (whereas LM would grab F-22 and later on JSF).

I don't know if it was more that Northrop was blackballed or that LM had favorites in high places. If one was to believe the Skunk Works mythos, one could accredit it to the faith the military placed in LM to deliver advanced tech on time and on budget; at least for projects started in Skunk Works land.

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George August 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm

QUOTE – “The Russian fighter supposedly sacrifices stealth for greater maneuverability against western fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

Well it certainly doesn’t sacrifice maneuverability for stealth like the F-35 does. If the F-35 gets involved in a dogfight with anything from the F-16/MiG-29 upwards it’s bye-bye…

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Black Skunk August 15, 2011 at 1:57 pm

George, please get informed before saying nonsenses.

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superraptor August 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

unless somebody has some info that the F-35 will be able to carry 6 AAMs internally, it will be quite teethless for Air-to-Air combat and even an SU-35 could take it out.

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Considering the F-22 can carry 6 AMRAAMs internally and the F-35 was designed to carry a larger payload than the F-22, I highly doubt the F-35 would be able to carry any LESS than the 6 AAMs.

Payload aside, it only takes one good missile to make a kill.

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MCQknight August 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm

The F-35 was designed to only carry two air-to-air missiles internally when only carrying bombs and 4 air-to-air when in an air-superiority role. In order to carry 6 or more it has to use its external hardpoints which negates its stealth effects.

William C. August 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Yet it can match the F-16, an aircraft which only thrust-vectoring designs have a serious edge over in terms of maneuverability. Yes it won't match a F-22, F-15, Su-35, or EF-2000 in the high altitude, high speeds regime, but that's the reason why we are supposed to have larger air-superiority focused aircraft.

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm

@George

That's why we've developed high off-boresight missiles in conjunction with helmet mounted displays. As quote I remember reading from Lockheed Martin goes: "maneuvering is irrelevant"

I say the F-35 will be a success once matured.

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MCQknight August 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

They've been saying "manuering is irrelevant" since before Vietnam. The countermeasures always catch up, though.

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

They didn't have missiles and guidance systems with a 90 degree attack angle back then, though. And they relied on traditional HUDs where you had to point your aircraft at the enemy to shoot it. Now, with the F-35 and AIM-9Xs, if you can see it you can shoot it.

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FtD August 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm

if you allow someone to get on your six, unless you can twist you head 180deg to get a lock on, the enemy has more opportunity to cause damage than you can on to them.

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saberhagen August 16, 2011 at 5:55 am

that's why F-35 has DAS

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STemplar August 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm

If an F35 winds up in a dog fight with anything a whole lot of other things have gone very wrong and we are probably pooch screwed anyway.

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Matt August 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm

How would a non-stealth design even get close enough to get into a dogfight w/the F35? Others have already stated the F35 could hold it’s own in close w/it’s HMD/avionics/missles.

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STemplar August 15, 2011 at 11:47 pm

If it is in a dog fight then a great many other things have gone very wrong.

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George August 16, 2011 at 4:27 am

I’ll just quote P.Sprey and W.Wheeler:
“At 49,500 pounds air-to-air take-off weight and 42,000 pounds of engine thrust, it will be a significant step backward in thrust-to-weight ratio for a new fighter. With only 460 square feet of wing area, wing loading will be a whopping 108 pounds per square foot. That makes the F-35 even less maneuverable than the appalling F-105 “Lead Sled” that got wiped out over North Vietnam.”
Plus it’s well known that the marine’s version only gets 7.5G structural limit.

It’s old news that the F-35 is an ugly fat pig you can only put so much lipstick on.

@Ben As for the off-boresight missile lock that’s something the Israelis have had for ~10 years now as do the Russians. It would have made a difference if nobody else had it.

The Lockheed quote is just plain daft – it presupposes nobody will get close enough to the platform to threaten it but if (for example) you scramble for interception against an enemy who took a nap-of-the earth road up your airbase then all bets are off.

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saberhagen August 16, 2011 at 6:01 am

Funny to see tons of people pretend to be expert. Back to the basic, could you tell us what's the point of maneuverability? Do you understand its essence or you just hear people talk about it?

Israel, Rus have HMD, off-bore..but they dont have DAS

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George August 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm

DAS does not provide target acquisition for an AIM-9X or an AMRAAM for that matter. You can read all about it in http://www.es.northropgrumman.com/solutions/f35targeting/. And even if it did that does not mean you can launch a missile backwards if someone’s at your six.
But I forgot. You are an expert.

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STemplar August 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm

What is the fascination with people and dog fights? You realize we haven't been in a real dog fight since Vietnam, not a real one. Then, mostly why we were in them was lousy strategy and stupid ROEs. Spending hundreds of billions on making sure we have the best dog fighter when we are trying to actually have the best strike fighter is dumb.

saberhagen August 17, 2011 at 1:00 am

hey, why dont you answer my question first? Then I will enlighten you later.

Joe Schmoe August 18, 2011 at 5:12 am

The Israelis have several electro-optical sensors on their planes to look for missiles, etc. While not a pure DAS, it is pretty damn close. Also, the Python 5 missile on paper is superior to the AIM-9X.

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SuperiorIQ August 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

These Russian pieces of crap are good only for air shows but have little value in real air-combat scenario against western fighters, as history has always demonstrated. The western fighters are by far superior in terms of stealth technology, avionics, weapons systems, combat tactics, pilot training, etc. than the Russian crappy ones.

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FtD August 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm

same goes to F22….. they only fly @ airshows since when were they ever deployed in real combat??

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm

@FtD

We haven't used them because we haven't faced an air force that warrants their attention. Yet.

Raptors are serving largely as a deterrent for the time being. They're our way of saying "Make my day" to anyone who thinks they can go toe-to-toe with us. Nobody messes with the kid holding the giant stick.

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blight August 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Meh. There's always pre-war penis-waving before the shooting begins. It gives military historians a job afterwards.

Royal Navy: unstoppable! ~1939
American Army: Pitiful, barely the size of Poland's! ~1939
IJN, unproven against "true" maritime powers. Likely to be unable to wage war against UK Far East forces, or the USN. ~Japan, 1938
Soviet Army: Torn apart by internal purges and likely to be unable to defend the country: 1938
Germany; militarily down and out of the count, thanks to Treaty of Versailles: 1929

We're speculating based on patchy publicly available data, and we'll only really figure out real capability when they are employed against their neighbors.

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Praetorian August 16, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Soviet Army: Torn apart by internal purges and likely to be unable to defend the country: 1938

IMO, this statement was correct. I do see your point though, Plus one

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Tom August 17, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Two things to consider:

1.) A plane is simply a piece of a larger battlefield system.
2.) The USA has never fought Russia head-to-head; only lesser foes.

It's never simply plane against plane, but infrastructure against infrastructure.

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Steven September 28, 2011 at 7:19 am

I wouldn't say history has always shown. During Korea pilots frequently talked every now and then ending up in a dogfight in what must have been a Russian pilot because of their skill vs. the Koreans they normally faced. In those cases the "far superior" western fighter suddenly found themselves barely able to keep up against the Mig.

At the end of the day pilot training is everything. They're like calculators. Crap in – Crap out.

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Tony C August 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm

This is a clean design, not as stealthy as the F-22A in the engine nacelles, but
it will evade radar from the other aspects for awhile. The F-22A is designed to
penetrate integrated air defenses, this one is designed to get as close as possible without detection. That doesn't mean it won't get shot down, but it will give the air defenses less time to acquire and track them. Stealth is expensive, so it remains to
be seen how many of these get purchased outside of Russia and India?

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Greg August 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm

definitely. But i guess most of the purchases for an airforce have to be evaluated by considering what they are bought for: 1. prestige and 2. the specific enemy threat.

since most of the interested countries are probably autocratic democracies or dictators the russian 5th gen-fighter has a pretty good chance to be sold i think.

1. it is 5th gen technology, good for prestige
2. rebels can also be fought on a 1944 messerschmidt…so if it is cheaper than the F22 or F35 it will be the weapon of choice for most of those customers..

Not to mention that they usually buy russian anyhow ;)…

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Stratege August 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm

There are "official" rumors that the serial production Su/T-50 would be equiped with a new engine which should have "stealthy" nozzles in its blueprints.

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Even if that's true, nozzles make little difference. The engine intakes are linear, not s-shaped, so anything viewing it straight on with an infared scope will see straight down those engines. It'd look like to big fireballs on a screen.

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Stratege August 15, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Radar blocker can be working solution, isn't?
Seems that Sukhoi's designers refused idea of a completely S-shaped intakes for aerodynamics purposes and economy of weight.
Anyway, those intakes are not absolutely linear http://attach.high-g.net/attachments/t_50_engine_

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm

You can't jam an IRST system. And those intakes WILL give off a pretty sizable heat signature, no matter the precautions they take simply because they're linear. It's part of the trade-off the PAK FA is making. Less stealth, better aerodynamics.

BOB August 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm

It's my understanding that maneuverability means just about jack-sh*t considering that missiles are fired from so far away and at high speeds. Especially when you consider that the even the F-18's computers limit the craft's maneuverability so as not to kill the pilot with extreme G's. (Don't flame me if I'm wrong, just correct me). I mean, isn't stuff like the movie Top-Gun complete crap?

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Stratege August 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

A-a missiles has a limited fuel, worst maneuverability at the terminal stage. They could be avoided/dodged/outmaneuvered. Radar (which used for missile guidance) could be jammed.
Aircraft maneuverability is not about only G-limit.

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MCQknight August 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

The further away a missile is fired, the easier it is to defeat (assuming it is detected once launched). Since the missile has to "lead" the target, agressive manuevering by the target will force the missile to make massive course corrections. The corrrections help bleed off the missile's energy and decrease chances of a hit. Employing countermeasures during said manuevers can further decrease the likelyhood of a hit.

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jhm August 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm

plus if radars dont become way keener, stealth fighters would have to dogfight against each other to get IR leads and also using the good old cannons.

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anon August 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

"…bears a resemblance to the YF-23…"

Superficially, and even then only in the tail fins.

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RunningBear August 15, 2011 at 5:36 pm

I'm not much on Ruski planes but you have lost me with this title? Care to expand it into English or other hieroglyphs, etc.? Sorry to ask for the help!

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Andrew August 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Won't make any assumptions about its performance but it is a pretty damn beautiful aircraft. Always liked the SU designs though (or should I say design since the 27).

Would be pretty interesting to see Russia show up at Red Flag with a few (never will happen, I know)

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Waiting. August 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Invite them.

And challenge their best pilot to arrive in a Su-47, not in a measly PAK FA.

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Stratege August 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Su-47 is nothing more than "flying laboratory"

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Still waiting. August 17, 2011 at 3:47 am

Try to beat it.

With anything.

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Praetorian August 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm

The U.S. has flown against the SU-30MKI from India, with mixed results.

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jhm August 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Yup. In dogfights, it was pretty formidable, but the Indians wouldnt utilize their radars in all modes so almost no BVR engagements.

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Black Owl August 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

The Russians know how to make planes very well, at least ones that don't pump toxic fumes into the pilot's breathing apparatus. I can't wait to see the T-50 in action.

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

They make them good, we make them better. I'm betting the Russians have their fair share of technical problems, too. We're just more forthcoming about ours.

But agreed. I can't wait to see ANY 5th Gen. aircraft in action. Nobody really knows the extent of a platform's effectiveness until it's had time in the field.

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jhm August 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Dont forget about teh pilots :)

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Roy Smith August 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm

The F-22 is the “Peyton Manning” of fighter jets……oh wait,Peyton is unable to play this season because he had neck surgery. Could you imagine the logic of saying that the Colts aren’t playing Peyton because they haven’t played against a team that warrants his use in the game as QB? But that is the logic being used in this thread about why we haven’t used the F-22 in combat yet.

As far as the F-35 goes,NO fighter pilot will ever become an ace flying it. It is nothing but a sexed up,faster,prettier F-117A Nighthawk,whose mission it is replacing(the F-35C is a glorified sexed up,faster,prettier “stealth” A-6 Intruder). The F-35 is nothing more than a “glorified” bomb hauler & ground attack aircraft.

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Haha, I wouldn't use Peyton Manning if I knew I didn't have to in order to win! He costs too damn much! The same goes for the F-22. It's a very smart move not to use it for fly swatting.

And as far as the F-35 goes, I have no clue where you've been getting the information you're basing your opinions on. That's a bit ridiculous.

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jhm August 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm

remember the f16? everyone said it was crap and wasnt needed. well, look at its history :)

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Roland August 16, 2011 at 12:04 am

Just buy one of their best fighter stealth ighter jets and make modifications on our best stealth fighter jets.

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Roland August 16, 2011 at 12:05 am

Corrections: Just buy one of their best fighter stealth jets and make modifications on our best stealth fighter jets. (sorry for the typo, Im tired)

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chaos0xomega August 16, 2011 at 3:09 am

I just want to point out that people really can't talk about inferior Russian technology, etc. During the height of Soviet power/prior to the 80s the Russians could easily build aircraft and other tech the equivalent of ours, in some cases superior,in some cases inferior. Overall they were roughly on par with us. The concept of 'Russian tech is junk and held together by bird droppings and rust' didn't really come around until the last decade or two of Soviet rule… as the country began collapsing and crumbling into ruin (more or less). Its been 20 years, things change, and Russia has been slowly clawing its way out of the pit it found itself in. A lot can change in 20 years, it only took Japan 20-30 years to go from a feudal backwater to a world power.

What I am saying is don't underestimate one of our oldest adversaries.

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David August 16, 2011 at 7:13 am

+1 to you good sir! There's something to be said about the concept of producing a large number of good systems verses making just a few awesome ones.

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saberhagen August 16, 2011 at 6:06 am

LOL so other kind of planes can rely on their fancy kinematic capability to escape missile. RIGHT. Who need stealth, EW, planning, SEAD…when you can just fly around and have fun with the missile. Right, thanks for your expertise, genius.

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Lem Genovese August 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

New camoflauge paint job for "Transformers 4: Decepticons Revenge"

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Andrew August 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Regardless of the fighter's actual characteristics, on time and within budget are highly unlikely. $50 says this thing isn't produced en masse for another ten years, allowing for the already-outdated avionics to become thoroughly obsolete.

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jhm August 17, 2011 at 12:01 am

probably, look at how many su30s russia has. a handful. su35, dont even go there. but india will probably get squadrons of pak fas. considering its overall procurement of su30s

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OliSki August 16, 2011 at 7:31 pm

All these comments are hypotheticals when you factor in the US pilots, the electronics, support structure etc the US aircrafts are basically untouchable air to air dog fights could be rendered obsolete with 360 degree rotating sidewinder turret. The missiles could incorporate new thrust tech and become more compact. Enemy at 3:00 boom. Enemy at 6:00 boom just like a phalanx. Also by incorporating drones becomes an extension like a tree branch that let’s you know where what and when before it even materializes. The US leads the way and pace at which military tech materializes

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jhm August 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm

can anyone tell me the pak fas radar? stealth and performance is all that, but i think the radar will also be a defining part obviously. the f22s radar is downright amazing. think about locking on to other fighters with alerting them of a radar lock. damn

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Stratege August 17, 2011 at 1:58 am

Domestic PAK-FA's radar configuration:

Newly developed radar system Sh-121 for PAK-FA program:
5 radars. One main X-band AESA (~1500 elements) + two side-looking x-band AESA radars + two L-band transmitters/receivers (those L-band are probably for ECM and reconnaissance role, the rumors saying that those are "anti-stealth" radars ).

PAK-FA's armament on internal hardpoints:

- short-range missile RVV-MD (new development for PAK-FA program)
- middle-range RVV-SD (new developments for PAK-FA program)
- ultra-long range missile (the R-73's sucessor) RVV-BD on internal hardpoints
- cruise missiles in interal bays and on external hardpoints
- air-to-ground missiles / bombs

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Stratege August 17, 2011 at 3:10 am

Russian AESA radar should have The Low Probability of Intercept aswell.

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Roy Smith August 17, 2011 at 1:14 am

In today’s bad economy,where congress is looking for any excuse to cut money & programs,the fact that the F-22 wasn’t ready for use in the early stages of the Libyan bombing campaign looks very bad for it. The argument that the F-22 is too expensive to use in such a “meaningless” campaign falls right into the argument that the F-22 is just an expensive white elephant without a mission. The present Libyan conflict gave the Eurofighter & Rafale a chance to shine & all of the talking heads noticed, They also noticed the conspicuous absence of the F-22. Like I said before,use it or lose it. If we decide to engage in an aerial campaign against Syria,like NATO is doing in Libya,the F-22 better be there & involved in the campaign. People are watching.

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Samoyed August 17, 2011 at 3:45 am

When Gates left the Obama administration, he really slammed the "euros" for their inadequate performance in Libya claiming they lacked enough resources. I assume that this incudes planes. I also noticed that the US led the initial attacks. I am guessing that we have far superior tech to find and supress enemy SAMs. Some of the Euro planes have pretty good specs but they don't seem to be able to get the job done. Is this due to lack of tech? Money? training? I don't know.
Regarding the F22: If this thing is a loser, they sure have fooled me. The specs are excellent with nozzle vectoring, hyper cruise the latest avionics and stealth coating more modern than the 117 or B2. The pilots and ex pilots all say they love it. We have reports of it beating Gen 4 fighters with ease etc… Are there any reliable sources who have evidence this plane is a dog?

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Ryan August 17, 2011 at 1:37 am

By the time this reaches service, all manned fighters will be for the most part obsolete. A ucav will be better in almost all regards. No pilot means no life support, display set ups, interface (in the plane), ejector seat, improved shape ( no need for a cockpit), no limit to the gs it can pull other than those of the airframe. Also you have "fearless" pilots, cause they have nothing to fear other than breaking some equipment. If he does, the pilot gets to learn, and get better. Build a high end fighter or fighter bomber like that and you've got a virtually guaranteed winner.

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Stratege August 17, 2011 at 2:18 am

"By the time this reaches service, all manned fighters will be for the most part obsolete."

Wrong.
A.I. was not created. Highly unlikely that it would be developed in near future (this decade or even next) .
Remote controlled UCAVs are too much vulnerable to jamming/ECM systems.
So UCAVs still can't replace manned figher jets in role in the air superiority role.

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Stratege August 17, 2011 at 2:42 am

There're no reason for Russians to equip PAK-FA with "already-outdated avionics".
PAK-FA got newly developed flight control system, avionics, HUD, IRST, radars and weapons systems. Flying prorotypes has "all new" looking c()ckpit, which is not resemblance of anything seen before in Russian air force (photos available). The pilots of the serial production PAK-FA should got the new "intellectual" helmet, new "intellectual" anti-G suite (fully integraded into the FCS).
You should understand that PAK-FA program is much more than just a new airframe designed by Sukhoi.

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FtD August 17, 2011 at 4:33 am

i'm sure Russians will not pussy foot on squeezing for R&D money aka LockMart, they rather get the plane finished & starting making in quantity & sell to other countries that's where they get the profits from as they know there's no money from the government anyway….

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Anon August 17, 2011 at 4:36 am

Going to have crack at this like the rest of the armchair experts commenting here.

The PAK-FA and the Chiense equivalent will beat the F-22 in combat. Simple. The F-22 was a platform developed through the 80s/90s and in-service early 2000s to defeat 80s/90s era Sov/Russian platforms. It is now the 2010s and both of the Russian/Chinese will come into service with the advantages of a decade+ of tech improvements and healthier defence budgets (both Russia and especially China, have money to burn). Both opposing platforms can carry more weapons to boot.

Really the US has to look now at building the next platform, that would beat the PAK-FA and Chinese version. The F-35 is not it, with its limited stealth and performance (its still only in the same envelope as the teen series). With the US planning at least a $400 billion defence spending cut over the next decade then this is not really going to happen any time soon.

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Tom White August 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm

As to whether this PAK FA is better/worse than F-22, you must realize that a plane is only part of a greater battlefield system. Combat is never just about plane vs plane, but infrastructure vs infrastructure. A plane is only as good as it's logistical support, guidance from the top, it's pilot, etc.

For example, if America fielded the PAK FA while Russia instead fielded the F-22, the PAK FA may become a better plane because of superior command and control, support systems, and so on on the American's behalf.

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Denis Zhikh August 18, 2011 at 3:12 am
@cpcolinchau August 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

The F-35 is optimised as a ground-attack oriented aircraft and wasn't meant to perform air-to-air. This means that the F-35s orientation is offensive rather than defensive.

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blight August 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Ground attack is relevant for close air support and ground interdiction on defense as well. Tell it to the former VNAF which never went on the "offensive" against North Vietnam.

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Lee January 15, 2013 at 10:23 am

Indeed. The marked is big for Russia, since most of counties will need a plane for defence, but not attack. Clear, so those who wants to attack others, they will by F35, those who wants to defend, PAK FA

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blight August 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I'm surprised the Air Force hasn't moved towards new low-observable casings (and mounting hardware) for current air to air missiles. It would solve the internal loading problem if it could be done…

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Alony August 22, 2011 at 2:14 am

I think the Pak-Fa will be a very successful fighter but it will not get exported beyond Russia and India anytime soon. Also i highly doubt we have the money to field thousands of F-35′s as some believe. We had a plan of getting like 600-700 F-22′s we have less then 200 made. so cut the 2000 F-35 order by 2/3rd’s and ull get a good figure what we can afford.

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Aedan December 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Americans need to accept the concept of they are not superior at everything. The PAK FA is already superior to the F-22 and is still in development. I honestly believe that 'stealth' is obsolete; modern RADAR systems can detect stealth aircraft with good range and relatively high resolution. The PAK FA and SU-35BM can outmaneuver US AIM-120 AMRAAMs. The Russian BVR missiles are faster, more accurate and have greater range. The PAK FA will see the F-22 first, shoot first and then do it again to another F-22.

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Aedan December 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Besides, nobody will beat Russia because it will just flex its muscles of nuclear weapons.

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JOhn Moore August 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

To attack someone on the personal level is to admit defeat!

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SuperiorIQ August 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Your less-than-average IQ, making you unable of elaborating a reasonable counter-argument, induces you to abuse people with stupid observations. It's you who don't know very much about aircraft technology.

PS English is not my mother-tongue language and I know 3 foreign languages, altough not perfectly. How many foreign languages do you know, you skunk?

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Thunder350 August 15, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Having your pilots black out due to lack of oxygen and crash to the ground, won't be much of a help in a fight against China, or anyone for that matter.

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Aedan December 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm

That doesn't matter. China would destroy the USA.

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PMI August 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Shouldn't this be in reply to SiQ?

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Tom August 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

You make it sound like the pilots black out every time they take off, that's hardly the case. A fix may be as simple as not starting the engines when the plane is inside a hangar.

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Stratege August 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm

False report i think. Definitely, PAK-FA was not designed to be loser in terms of aerodynamics and flight capabilities
As far as i know, Mikoyan's light 5th generation fighter jet project was not officially confirmed.

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Still, we can't afford to lose any more top-notch pilots or F-22s, especially since we're not producing many more Raptors. Better to be safe than sorry.

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Forrest Cantrell August 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

If that's the case they would have been back flying a long time ago. This is a serious problem (that the Russians don't apparently have).

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Oblat August 16, 2011 at 12:59 am

No I believe the poisoning of the pilots by the F-22 oxygen generator is long and slow and debilitating.

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Ben August 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I haven't been able to find any official listings of any internal loadout configurations.

Though even 4 wouldn't be bad, considering the whole aircraft is more lethal than anything of previous generations. Theoretically you should be able to do more with less.

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Joe Schmoe August 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Except that the AIM-120 has a nearly 25% failure rate (one fourth of your missile load gone already) and only a pK (kill percentage) of 0.51% (i.e.- only 1 in 2 missiles will hit).

So far all intent and purposes, statistically speaking the F-35 will only be able to maybe shoot down one enemy with it's maximum air-air load.

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citanon August 15, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Heavens no, not just one enemy. I mean, the Air Force and the Navy will only have TWO THOUSAND of them……

Even by these numbers, one fighter per sortie with a clean getaway is pretty good if achievable, IMO.

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Curt August 16, 2011 at 2:53 am

And just think, the AIM-120 is vastly superior in all aspects to the Russian and Chinese missiles. So, given greater stealth capability, better electronics, and better missiles, 4 AIM-120s will equal 6 or even 8 AAMs of Chinese or Russian manufacture. And of course, the F-35 will also carry the AIM-9X so the world isn't riding on the AIM-120.

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Roy Smith August 15, 2011 at 11:09 pm

The F-22 is the “Peyton Manning” of fighter jets……oh wait,Peyton is unable to play this season because he had neck surgery. Could you imagine the logic of saying that the Colts aren’t playing Peyton because they haven’t played against a team that warrants his use in the game as QB? But that is the logic being used in this thread about why we haven’t used the F-22 in combat yet.
As far as the F-35 goes,NO fighter pilot will ever become an ace flying it. It is nothing but a sexed up,faster,prettier F-117A Nighthawk,whose mission it is replacing(the F-35C is a glorified sexed up,faster,prettier “stealth” A-6 Intruder). The F-35 is nothing more than a “glorified” bomb hauler & ground attack aircraft.

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joe August 16, 2011 at 2:57 am

Well, the On-Board Oxygen Generator is new, sophisticated technology. The Russians most likely just use a liquid oxygen tank like everyone else….

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Curt August 16, 2011 at 3:00 am

No, it's why the Colts are not going to play Manning in the meaningless pre-season games that don't count and don't need his skills. Or, said another way, using F-22 air superiority fighters in meaningless (from and air to air standpoint) air campaigns that aren't facing any opposition. Remind me again, how many air-to-air losses (or even how many engagements) have we seen to date in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined?

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Roy Smith August 16, 2011 at 8:23 am

Actually,Libya had fighter jets. I’m not saying they were worth a crap,but they had them. Also,how about if we decide to bomb Syria like we(oops,I mean NATO) are[is] doing with Libya right now? You’d need fighter support to help keep their jets grounded or to shoot down any that were about to take-off. Your logic about air-to-air losses against Libya(we did lose a F-15 Strike Fighter from possibly a ground to air missile),Iraq,& Afghanistan strengthens the argument that the F-22 is nothing but an expensive luxury that we can’t afford. If I was congress,I’d tell the Air Force to either use it or lose it(F-22).

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Stratege August 16, 2011 at 9:18 am

R-77 is not inferior to the AIM-120. Soviet middile range a-a missile was developed later and it had some advantages over original AMRAAM.
Today Russians developed ramjet version of the R-77 with a all new electronics package and with longer range compared to the latest AIM-120D. Also, they has new R-37M (ultra-long range missile with a range up to ~300 km). Those missiles could be fitted in PAK-FA's internal weapons bays.

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superraptor August 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

the F-35 cannot carry the Aim9X internally either, so it remains toothless. I am sure it could carry 6 AAMs internally, but you need to have funding to implement such capability and I cannot find anything that it is in the works. So forget about its Interceptor capability against The PAK T-50 or J-20 which will carry 8 to 10 AAMs internally. Good night US air surperiority.

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Roy Smith August 17, 2011 at 1:15 am

In today’s bad economy,where congress is looking for any excuse to cut money & programs,the fact that the F-22 wasn’t ready for use in the early stages of the Libyan bombing campaign looks very bad for it. The argument that the F-22 is too expensive to use in such a “meaningless” campaign falls right into the argument that the F-22 is just an expensive white elephant without a mission. The present Libyan conflict gave the Eurofighter & Rafale a chance to shine & all of the talking heads noticed, They also noticed the conspicuous absence of the F-22. Like I said before,use it or lose it. If we decide to engage in an aerial campaign against Syria,like NATO is doing in Libya,the F-22 better be there & involved in the campaign. People are watching.

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Roy Smith August 17, 2011 at 2:28 am

I’ve noticed so many people saying that we need to cut this or cut that to cut the deficit in government spending. My radical plan calls for very drastic cuts in defense. First,I would retire all U.S. Navy ships(aircraft carriers,cruisers,destroyers,frigates,& submarines),disband the Navy,& have the U.S. Coast Guard assume our maritime defense. The Coast Guard would strictly be a “brown water” & “riverine” force. I would disband the Marine Corps & have the Army assume their duties(more on how I’ll change the U.S. Army later). I would retire ALL fix wing aircraft,except for transport & airlift planes,planes devoted to counter-insurgency,& UAV’s. All fighter jets & bombers will be retired. I would also disband the Air Force & Air Force Reserve,& I’d have the Air National Guard assume defense of our airways. now,finally,what I’d do with the U.S. Army. I’d retire all tanks,self-propelled howitzers,Bradley Fighting Vehicles,M113 APC’s,basically all track vehicles. I’d only have vehicles,like Stryker vehicles,that would be ideal for low intensity conflicts,counter insurgency,peace keeping,& INTERNAL SECURITY. I would retire all Cobra,Kiowa,& Apache attack helicopters,& have an attack helicopter fleet made up of H-6 Little Birds armed only with machine guns & anti-personnel rockets. If we need anything heavier than that,we can convert Blackhawk & Huey helicopters into gunships. I would retire the V-22 Osprey fleet. I would disband the Active Army & Reserve Army & have the Army National Guard assume all of their duties. In essence,our national defense would be in the hands of the National Guard,Air National Guard,& the Coast Guard. If fact I’d disband the Department of Defense & have the Department of Homeland Security assume control of the ARNG,ANG,& CG.

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Greg August 17, 2011 at 4:22 am

you almost sound european =)
solid plan, very true, but it will never happen. If Joe Redneck cannot be proud of sth he didnt have any part in, he wont be happy.

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Anon August 17, 2011 at 5:42 am

Probably, first time I’ve posted on one of these armchair expert things so please excuse the misdemeanour.

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