The joint design and development of the fifth generation stealth fighter plane Sukhoi T-50 by India and Russia has seen a new twist as India has indicated that it seeks a more powerful engine. According to Air Chief Marshall N.A.K.Browne, although the progress of the T-50 fighter jet was satisfactory, an upgrade in the T-50 engine is needed. The Sukhoi T-50 is the current prototype of the fifth generation PAK FA jet fighter.
Speaking at a conference in New Delhi, Indian Air Chief Marshall Browne elaborated that by the time India receives these fifth generation fighter jets, there would be significant changes in the jet. The most prominent feature will be a more powerful engine than the one which is fitted with currently. Apparently, India has already chosen the new engine but details or a confirmation have not been disclosed. India plans to induct the fighter jets by 2017.
The agreement to jointly develop and design the fifth generation fighter jet was signed last year between state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Sukhoi Company and Rosoboronexport. The T-50 fifth generation fighter jet is in the prototype phase and as it moves towards the production phase, the delivery schedule will become clearer now.
Meanwhile, there has been a lot of speculation about the new or upgraded engine that India proposes to incorporate on the fifth generation Sukhoi PAK FA whose current prototype is called Sukhoi T-50. While no information has been forthcoming, experts feel that it will be the upgraded AL-41 engine or even another engine that gives more thrust. The AL-41 engine is meant to be powering PAK-FA jet fighter, while the prototypes are believed to be powered by a modified pair of Saturn-117S. It has been suggested that the new engine requirements will be more than that of the AL-41 engine which is already expected to deliver about 160 Km thrust.
Air Chief Marshall Browne has pointed out that although the $ 10.4 billion medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal is creating all the hype, the fifth generation fighter plane will be a much more formidable addition and a critical boost to the Indian Air force (IAF) fleet. He added that the MMRCA does not have stealth features or super cruise capabilities, whereas the fifth-generation fighter aircraft has all that. The advantages of a fifth generation PAK-FA are phenomenal since the fighter plane has an armament base, where all the missiles and weapons are inside the aircraft, adding to its stealth capability.
The prototype of the PAK-FA, the Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation fighter, performed its first demonstration flight at the MAKS 2011 International Aviation Show in Russia last month. The pilots did not perform any maneuvers or acrobatic stunts because the plane was still going through a series of test flights. Besides, an engine problem forced Russia to abort the takeoff of its T-50 stealth plane later in the MAK 2001 air show. The pilot "stopped the take-off due to technical defects," a spokeswoman for the MAKS international airshow revealed. The fifth generation fighter plane was still undergoing tests so technical glitches were to be expected and the pilot "simply chose not to take risks," the spokeswoman said. However, the planes had flown without a hitch over the previous four days. Russian officials have said the final version of the T-50 will not be ready until the end of 2016.