While development of the T-50 PAK-FA gathers pace, the Su-35 remains Sukhoi’s export priority for the next five to seven years. The aircraft is designed to plug the gap between the existing Su-30 and future fifth-generation fighters. According to Sukhoi, the Su-35 already incorporates some fifth-generation technology, thereby having an edge over other fourth-generation combat platforms.
Sukhoi has completed its preliminary flight and bench trials program for the T-50 PAK-FA fighter. Three airframes were built for the initial campaign, comprising one static aircraft (T-50-0), one flying prototype (T-50-1) and an avionics testbed (T-50-2). A display flight by T-50-1 on June 17 in front of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin marked the 16th time the aircraft had flown.
Sweden is advancing its own Gripen development path alongside that of the Gripen Next Generation aircraft intended for export, which is currently awaiting the outcome of major competitions in Brazil and India. The Swedish air force is now talking openly about a JAS 39E/F version that would draw on many of the technologies being applied to the NG program.
Attempts by India to fast-track the procurement process for its 126-aircraft Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft requirement have come unstuck as the evaluation process has taken far longer than initially expected.
Last month, EADS Defence & Security delivered back to the Luftwaffe the first Tornado to undergo the production ASSTA 2 upgrade program. This modernization is part of an effort to keep selected Tornados in German service until at least 2025.
Brazil’s purchase of 36 new fighters has pitted the air force’s preference for the Saab Gripen, backed by a 10-month technical report, against a presidential preference for the Dassault Rafale as part of a “strategic alliance” with France. Second in the air force’s ranking was the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. According to the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, France reduced the cost of the Rafale package from $12.2 billion to $8.2 billion.
Boeing Defence Australia is in the process of installing elements of the Project Vigilare network-centric command and control system (N3CS) at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Williamtown, and has begun to demonstrate the system’s connectivity. The installation program continues throughout this and next year.
With J-10A production in full stride, Chengdu is working on integrating new technology, which may lead to an improved production aircraft. A prototype has been seen and photographed with several important new features. Most obvious are new radome and intake structures.
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.