Years of speculation were brought to an end last Friday with the long-anticipated public debut of Russia’s new Sukhoi T-50 fighter, on the occasion of its first flight. Test pilot Sergey Bogdan took the prototype aircraft aloft for a successful 47-minute maiden voyage from Dzemgi airfield at Komsomolsk-na-Amur, followed by the public release of still and video imagery.
Japan’s Defense Ministry is preparing to select the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace its aging F-4EJ feet. The plan to about acquire 40 F-35s, estimated to cost about ¥9 billion (US$91 million) each, is likely to be included in new defense policy guidelines to be adopted this month.
Making its first-ever appearance in the Middle East, the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor is flying over each day from Al Dhafra airbase, Abu Dhabi, for its 14-minute display slot. Major Dave “Zeke” Skalicky is showing off America’s top-of-the-line stealth fighter with a serious of gravity-defying maneuvers.
The future of the VH-71 presidential helicopter program neared the wire last month as Congress worked to pass a final 2010 defense appropriations bill that the President would sign before the start of the fiscal year on October 1. If the bill is not signed into law by then, Congress would need to pass a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the Department of Defense. As AIN went to press, the bill had not yet become law.
Sukhoi’s long-anticipated fifth-generation multirole fighter is nearing the start of flight trials as work continues on the prototype aircraft, the famed Russian aircraft builder’s chief executive confirmed at the Paris Air Show yesterday.
Sukhoi believes it is within two years of making first deliveries of its new Su-35 fighter as it prepares to add a third prototype to the flight-test program before the end of this month.
Is Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter a “bomb truck,” optimized for the stealthy attack of ground targets but of limited value as a defender of airspace? Critics and rivals of the multibillion-dollar international program have been sniping at the F-35’s air-to-air maneuvering performance for years.
Boeing has applied some stealth design principles to the F-15 Strike Eagle, and is marketing the modified aircraft for export as the F-15SE Silent Eagle. On the new model, the conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) already added to the F-15E are adapted to carry weapons internally and the vertical tails are canted outwards to reduce radar-cross section under certain conditions.
The Pentagon is increasing production of the General Atomics Predator and Reaper armed UAVs and withdrawing 250 strike aircraft. The long-awaited statement on the U.S. Fiscal Year 2010 budget by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed an end to F-22 production at 187 aircraft, offset by a slight advance in the pace of the F-35 program.
Intense speculation surrounds the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year 2010 U.S. defense budget submission, which is now being deliberated in secret within the Pentagon. According to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, difficult choices must be made. The spotlight has fallen on two aerospace programs: whether to buy any more F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, and whether to abandon the VH-71 Presidential helicopter program.