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 four partner nations in Eurofighter have agreed to delay until 2015 the introduction of the Meteor, the advanced rocket-ramjet beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed by MBDA. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is managing the development of Meteor, and is the only country to have committed to production so far. However, the MoD told the UK National Audit Office that it was falling into line with Germany, Italy and Spain.
Saab reacted with vigor to a statement by the Norwegian government that the Gripen fighter was inferior to the Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF in most aspects of performance–and was also more expensive. Norway had been evaluating the Gripen NG (New Generation) as an alternative to the JSF, and Saab had high hopes of launching the NG version with the help of its Scandinavian neighbor.
China’s new J-10 combat aircraft made its public debut at the Zhuhai airshow last month. Two examples of the fourth-generation fighter named “Vigorous Dragon” were part of an expanded Chinese defense presence at the event. The JH-7 fighter-bomber, L-15 jet trainer, J-8 interceptor and H-6Y bomber-tanker were also on flying and static display.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has exceeded Mach 1 for the first time–a timely achievement after a recent Rand study suggested that the design lacked maneuverability for air-to-air combat. Lockheed Martin said that the Lightning II accelerated to Mach 1.05 with a full internal load of inert weapons–5,400 pounds–on November 13. The design top speed is Mach 1.6. The Rand study on Air Combat discussed the potential performance of U.S.
Although India’s 126-aircraft requirement is the main prize for the world’s fighter manufacturers, major procurement decisions in Brazil and Switzerland are expected to be made long before Delhi makes its choice.
Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are all formally investigating alternatives to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace their F-16s.