Russia’s New Fighter Jet Is “100% Digital” Say Officials

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According to Russian defense officials the PAK-FA fighter jet is far more than a 5th-generation plane, it introduces completely new ideas.

Russia continues to invest heavily in its domestic arms industry, and the PAK-FA fighter jet is the latest effort. Also known as the T-50, the single-seat, twin-engine fighter jet is the first in the Russian Air Force Fleet to fully utilize stealth technology, according to RT.

New digital capabilities will assist pilots

Defense industry officials claim that the PAK-FA is 100% digital, and will feature a “smart covering” that provides the pilot with an all-round combat picture from within the cockpit. The system will also help the pilot to maneuver with increased efficiency.

The so-called “smart covering” is in fact a number of universal antenna systems which provide information about objects that are present on all sides of the aircraft. This 360 degree view is projected onto his helmet or onto the cockpit, said Igor Nasenkov, deputy general director of Russia’s KRET corporation.

“The PAK-FA fighter jet is not simply a fifth-generation aircraft as brand new ideas were installed. In other words, it is a 100-percent digital aircraft which not only delivers information at the pilot’s request, but also ensures full-fledged situation awareness,” Nasenkov said.

Russia’s new technology could give PAK-FA the edge against U.S.-built rivals

The PAK-FA is set to compete with U.S. aircraft including the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, and is also capable of attacking ground and sea defenses. The jet is the fifth-generation warplane designed by Sukhoi.

Not only will the PAK-FA be capable of engaging in dogfights, it can be used to attack other defenses. Its design ensures stealth, maneuverability and advanced avionics. According to Nasenkov its radar systems “are capable of surveillance functions and active radiolocation also serving as a tool of electronic warfare.”

The official also claimed that the new aircraft would be ahead of the competition thanks to digital control systems and an exemplary level of pilot comfort. Attendees at the Moscow Air Show in August were treated to a display of the aircraft’s extreme maneuverability as a PAK-FA carried out a number of technically demanding stunts.

Russian and Indian Air Forces to use new fighter jet

Pilots in the Russian Air Force are expected to be able to use the first production models of the new aircraft in 2016. The PAK-FA will be tested in a number of military exercises, according to Russian Air and Space Forces Commander Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev.

“The first T-50s should enter into service in 2016. We haven’t drafter the drill plans for next year yet, but, believe me, it [the plane]…will be immediately tested in all its capabilities in all the different types of exercises,” he said.

Delivery for the first series is scheduled for 2017, although the high cost of each jet is thought to have made the Russian government scale back its orders. In contrast the Indian government is set to order a number of PAK-FA jets as part of the joint FGFA initiative between the two countries. The plane is known as FGFA in India, and will be developed to carry weapons manufactured by Indian companies.

Indian defense minister Manohar Parrikar said that Russia and India have spent around $230 million on the FGFA aircraft, which is based on the PAK-FA. The Indian version will be able to fly at 2,300 kilometers per hour and boast a range of 3,800 kilometers.

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