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Monday, July 09, 2012

India-related news updates from Russia's military aviation industry [T-50 PAK-FA FGFA]

Some updates from Russia's military aviation industry, as relevant to India.

Fifth generation fighter aircraft, the T-50 PAK-FA


  • The third prototype of the T-50 PAK-FA [T-50-3] commenced flight testing on June 21, 2012.
  • Around 130 cumulative test flights have been completed by the PAK-FA prototypes. The 100th test-flight milestone was reached in around a year of the maiden flight of the first prototype - indicates a active testing programme.
  • The fourth prototype aircraft is being assembled and is expected to be ready for test flights in around the months of September-November [Autumn, as mentioned]. Unlike the earlier prototypes, which were taken from the factory to the location of flight test on-board transport aircrafts, the fourth prototype is expected to make the journey on its own - indicates confidence on part of the developers of its safety & reliability.
  • Two more T-50 PAK-FA prototype aircraft would join the flight test programme in 2013. A total of 14 prototypes would be involved in flight tests by 2015.
  • Around 60 production standard aircrafts are planned to be built between 2016-2020.
  • Preliminary design of the the Indian variant of the aircraft - the twin-seat Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft [FGFA]], is to be submitted this summer [Preliminary design phase of the FGFA was to end by June 2012].

Tikhomirov AESA Radar for the T-50 PAK-FA & FGFA

  • The third prototype has been equipped with the Tikhomirov-NIIP AESA radar being developed for the fighter - the first AESA radar to be fitted on any prototype. Having undergone ground tests, mated to the aircraft, flight test of the AESA radar is expected to commence by the end of 2012.
  • Tikhomirov-NIIP has been appointed the primary contractor for the development of an AESA radar for the FGFA too.

Other Radars

  • Tikhomirov-NIIP has proposed replacing the current radar equipping the IAF's Su-30 MKIs with an AESA variant. A positive response to this isn't yet forthcoming from India, thus far.
  • The BARS Phased Array radar mounted on IAF Flakers too are assembled in India.
  • The improved RD-33 Series-3 engine that would power the IAF's upgraded MiG-29 aircrafts [MiG-29UPG] would arrive in India in the form of knocked down kits [CKD], that would then be assembled in the country. Of the 120 engines contracted for, around 60 units have been supplied.
  • Radar on-board the Indian Navy's MiG-29K is identified as the Zhuk-ME FGM-129, whereas the ones to equip the Air Force's MiG-29UPG is the Zhuk-ME FGM-229.


  • The Russian Mi-26T2 that is bidding for the Indian Air Force's heavy-lift helicopter contract is said to have exceeded all requirements & has impressed the potential end-users,

"The potential customer is rather pleased with its assessment, and experts deem the Mi-26T2’s chances for winning in the Indian tender as high.

"We demonstrated the helicopter to the potential customer and it exceeded almost all the requirements, including operations in mountainous regions", told the General Designer of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant Alexey Samusenko. "Indian pilots, admitted to the flight tests, highly prized the upgraded helicopter, especially its new avionics."

The IAF presently operates around 3 older variants of these helicopters, of the 4 that were originally acquired.

  • The Russian Air Force [RuAF] is to induct 30 Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter aircrafts, starting 2013. The Su-30SM is a variant of the Indian Air Force's [IAF] Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter, presently license manufactured in India.
  • Following the Indian Navy's acquisition, the Russian Navy too has placed orders for 24 MiG-29K/KUB [20 Ks + 4 KUBs] aircraft for its sole Aircraft Carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov.

These examples of the Russian military deciding to induct two platforms that have seen prior service with India - the Su-30MKI & MiG-29K/KUB, perhaps, points to two points - validation of India's buying decisions [the Flankers & Fulcrums] & economies of scale leading to lower acquisition cost for the Russians [the MiG-29].

Gleaned these snippets of information from the latest English language issue of the Take-Off magazine




Related: T-50 PAK-FA Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft [FGFA] - Photographs & Reading