Saturday, January 30, 2010

Russia's new Stealth Fighter not so Stealthy

Thanks to Merv over at Prairie Pundit we learn that Russia, in cooperation with India has fielded what they call a Fifth Generation "Stealth Fighter" to compete with the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, but even a cursory look at the Sukhoi T-50/PAK FA airframe and you will soon see that the aircraft is not all that stealthy. The first thing you will note that it will mount two R-77 active radar guided missiles on wingtip rails or underwing pylons, a large drop tank on the centerline, and will only have between two and four small internal weapon's bays. The engine exhausts are standard circular turkey fin exhausts that do not appear to be directionally controllable. There are two IR track and scan pods fore and aft of the cockpit as well as what appears to be a conventional cockpit frame rail. All of these features will significantly increase the radar cross section (RCS) of the airframe. All of these things also create drag and will probably lead to a pilot jettisoning much of his external weapons and fuel load at the first sign of a dogfight. I would guess the RCS of this aircraft won't be much better that that of a F/A-18E/F model which it rather resembles. This aircraft's main advantages come from the additions of Supercruise Capability and Sensor Fusion, allowing the combination of radar and IR information from on-board sensors as well as other aircraft to be presented to every aircraft in the air group. This has been standard in most of the US fighter aircraft fleet for several years and accounts for much of the US aircraft's air superiority in combat. Supercruise will allow supersonic flight without the use of fuel gobbling afterburners. This will allow the aircraft to arrive at the fight with a larger fuel reserves and therefore allow it to stay in the fight longer. It is conceivable that the aircraft uses active radar cancellation techniques that would effectively lower it's RCS, but that capability has not been discussed in the open literature.

On the whole, this aircraft is a large improvement over the current Russian fleet of aircraft, but it is in no way in the same class as the F-22 Raptor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russia is long known for it's propaganda, and not actual facts. Perhaps to our advantage this might be another fantasy.....let's hope.

The actual mechanical facts are not as important to them as the perception..... and as long as a big crowd greets them and all looks well... then they in their minds have accomplished their mission.

February 26, 2010 2:21 PM  

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