Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Russia unveils its first stealth fighter jet


Russian military are keen to show that they have equally impressive technology to their Western rivals

Russia has unveiled its new stealth fighter jet, meant to boost the country's ageing arsenal of weaponry and be a rival to the US F-22 Raptor.

The Sukhoi T-50, also called the PAK FA, made its maiden flight in Russia's far east. Test pilot Sergei Bogdan said it was "easy and comfortable to pilot".

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said much work needed to be done before mass production began in 2015.

Stealth technology is meant to nearly eliminate a plane's radar signature.

The plane is being developed by the Sukhoi company at its Komsomolsk-on-Amur production plant.

The new jet has been developed in partnership with India. It is seen as a significant milestone in Russia's efforts to modernise its Soviet-era military hardware.

Sukhoi's director Mikhail Pogosyan said he was convinced that the project would "excel its Western rivals in cost-effectiveness and will not only allow strengthening of the defence power of the Russian and Indian air forces, but also gain a significant share of the world market".

The company says the jet's stealth features considerably enhance its combat effectiveness in all weathers.

Its features include: all-weather capability, ability to use a take-off strip of just 300-400 metres, capacity for sustained supersonic flight including repeated in-flight refuelling, advanced avionics, simultaneous attacks on air and ground targets.

But analysts have denied the jet is a leap forward.

"It's just a prototype lacking new engines and a new radar," military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer told the Associated Press news agency.

Originally scheduled for 2007, the T-50's maiden flight was repeatedly postponed because of technical problems.

Observers of Russia's recent military modernisation drive say it has been plagued by delays and quality problems.

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES Russia's first stealth fighter makes maiden flight - 10 hrs ago
Christian Science Monitor Russia flexes military power with 'futuristic' fighter jet - 15 hrs ago Russia tests its response to U.S. Raptor stealth jet - 19 hrs ago New Russian Stealth Fighter Intends to Match F-22 - 22 hrs ago
Times Online Russia unveils its first stealth fighter jet - the Sukhoi T-50 - 25 hrs ago

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