Yesterday, Russia's stealthy new fifth-generation jet fighter, the Sukhoi T-50, made its public debut at an air show near Moscow. The T-50 is billed as being more agile than the F-22, which is slightly worrisome for America's new fighters. Or, it would be worrisome, if every last F-22 hadn't been grounded since May due to mechanical problems. USA!
The T-50 is also known as the PAK FA, which stands for "Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation." Despite the ugliness of this acronym, the aircraft itself is very advanced. It's noticeably similar in construction to the F-22, relying heavily on composites for stealth, although it does sacrifice a little bit of this sneakiness for extra maneuverability. There's also some mention of a kind of "artificial intellect" in the PAK FA's radar system that does something unspecified, but I'm thinking it's like a Clint Eastwood in Firefox type of thing.
The PAK FA had its first test flight in December of 2009, and two prototypes were on display at the MAKS-2011 air show near Moscow this week. Russia is shooting for full deployment between 2014 and 2015, and in partnership with India, they're planning on producing about 1,000 PAK FAs over the next 40 years. With a project unit cost of only about $50 million, you could buy three PAK FAs for the price of a single F-22, and overall program cost for the PAK FA is less than a sixth of what it cost to deploy the F-22, which, in case you hadn't heard, has been out of service for so long that every F-22 pilot we have is at risk of becoming de-certified in their aircraft.
Below, we've got a video of the PAK FA straight from the air show, along with a gallery. If you like things that are fast and dangerous, it's a must-see.