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Sukhoi's Stealthy T-50 (PAK FA) Goes Public

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Sukhoi's Stealthy T-50 (PAK FA) Goes Public Russia chose the MAKS 2011 airshow near Moscow to this week publicly unveil what's generally billed as its answer to the U.S. F-22 Raptor, the Sukhoi T-50. The stealthy air superiority fighter flew a six-minute demonstration after secret tests in January of last year. Russian news agencies claim the aircraft has similar speed, range, altitude, and load-carrying specifications as the Raptor, with an emphasis on maneuverability that may surpass that of the U.S. jet. Russian sources also claim it will be produced at a fraction of the price. Whatever the case, the jet could pose a very strong challenge ... especially so long as the U.S.'s Raptor remains grounded for its ability to poison its own pilots.

The T-50 can reportedly fly from 1200-foot strips, has all-weather capability and can attack air and ground targets simultaneously. The new Sukhoi, which was developed with participation from India, would cost about $100 million per copy, according to news agency AFP. The same source said the Raptor sells for $140 million per plane -- other sources calculate those figures differently. Russia plans to produce as many as 1,000 PAK FAs over decades of production that may begin within five years. Full production is scheduled for roughly 2015. India is expected to purchase as many as 200. Meanwhile, the U.S. F-22 Raptor active fleet of roughly 160 aircraft remains grounded as investigators work to source a problem with the system that feeds oxygen to pilots. Blood tests have found toxins in pilots of the F-22 who complained of symptoms similar to hypoxia while flying the jet.

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