Another Sukhoi PAK FA Takes Wing

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Russia’s fifth flying Sukhoi PAK FA T-50, has flown this month in Russia as part of a test program expected to include roughly 2,000 test flights culminating with the jet’s entry into service (perhaps as early as 2016), according to Russian news sources. The flight lasted 50 minutes and tested the aircraft’s engines, stability and overall performance. The jet performed well through all test regimens and all systems worked properly, Sukhoi said in a statement. The T-50 is set to become Russia’s premier fifth-generation multirole fighter and the test program has not been without its problems. At least one was quite public.

At Russia’s MAKS 2011 airshow, the second flying prototype (one aircraft is in ground testing, only) suffered a technical malfunction that dramatically shot flame from one of the aircraft’s two engines and forced its pilot to abort a takeoff. Roughly 200,000 people were estimated to be in attendance to watch the flight demonstration. Sukhoi attributed the incident to a malfunction in the engine’s full-authority digital engine control system (FADEC) and to the aircraft’s NPO Saturn 117 engine that resulted in a problem with the aircraft’s fuel supply system. It features stealth and nano-technology, supercruise, enhanced maneuverability and advanced avionics. Four other flying examples have so far conducted more than 450 flights.