The state testing of the latest Russian T-50 fighter (PAK FA project) have been started in Akhtubinsk (Astrakhan Region), RIA Nvosti reports with reference to the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian air forces, Lieutenant General Viktor Bondarev.
The deliveries of the fifth-generation fighter should be started in 2016. The air forces may take delivery of T-50 jets even earlier. So far only one country in the world operates fifth-generation fighters - F-22 and F-35.
"The pilots have passed necessary retraining course and started performing flights on one jet. The second one will join the test program soon", — Bondarev said.
He did not unveil the starting date of the state testing; it was reported earlier that the test program should have been started in April or March.
The General said earlier that T-50 to be presented at the all-Russian stage of international pilot competition Aviadarts-2014 in Voronezh. The fighter should have been demonstrated in the network of a special program prepared specially for Russian Minister of Defense, Sergey Shoygu.
This news has sparked a public outcry, because the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded Russia to cancel the competition, because it was held near the border with Ukraine. Bondarev said that Kiev “poked nose into other country’s business”.
The PAK FA program is on schedule and the first fighters will be delivered to the air forces in 2016, the Commander-in-Chief of the air forces said.
T-50 is the fifth-generation fighter fitted with a brand-new avionics suite and advanced radar with active phased antenna array. It performed its maiden flight in January 2010 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. It was demonstrated for the first time at MAKS-2011 airshow held in Zhukovsky (Moscow Region). Three PAK FA prototypes took part in MAKS-2013 airshow: they have demonstrated formation flying.
In late April it was reported that PAK FA was fitted with one of its key elements – Himalayas EW suite.