America’s top-of-the-line air superiority fighter aircraft is about to have some company in the “5th Generation Fighter” category. Yesterday, Russia’s PM Vladmir Putin announced the introduction of their latest design, the Sukhoi T-50.
She’s a pretty ship, that’s for sure. Knowing the success of Sukhoi’s other designs I have no doubt she’s a capable bird, too. There’s a few nagging items about this whole thing, though, and I just can’t not address them. I have mentioned before that there’s been some… interesting… situations where Russian designs have seems to bear a remarkable resemblance to American designs. Look at our space shuttle and the Russian version. I’ve already noted the example of Northrop’s prototype A-9a ground attack ship and the Russian Su-25 Stormovik. So I’m afraid I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the T-50 above looks an awful lot like this ship:
And that would be America’s own F-22 Raptor, an aircraft design that started in 1981 and went into production over the last decade. Putin claims the T-50 would out-perform the F-22 – and cost less, ‘natch – and would just generally be “superior” to the Raptor. Even if I were to concede that claim (which I don’t) wouldn’t you expect a fighter design announced 3 decades later to outperform an older design? One of the reasons I doubt it so much is comments like this:
According to the government website, the test pilot told Putin the controls of the T-50 allowed the pilot to operate most of the plane’s systems without taking his hands off the joystick, which he said would be very useful under high forces of gravity.
Useful, indeed. At least, that’s what we thought when we introduced the concept in our HOTAS (“Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick”) feature incorporated into the F-16 Fighting Falcon…. back in 1978. I mean, it’s all well and good the Russians would follow our lead but to suggest that this is an example of why the T-50 is superior to the F-22… well, that’s just kind of bogus.
The T-50 is slated to be jointly produced by Russian and India, which is an interesting partnership on its own. should be interesting to see them brought into active service.