Soviet Union announces F-22

Photos: Sukhoi; U.S. Air Force photo by Scott Wolf

Russia's new Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter (right) may remind you of something else. [via Metafilter]


    1. What — the Soviet Union can’t have a fighter jet just because they’re isolated to a couple floors of an office building in Ankara, Turkey nowadays?

  1. Yeah, did I miss something in the news today? Has the good ole Union reformed? Be still my heart!

    1. Nah, the YF-23 had a much more rounded shape. more like the B-2 in concept then the angles of the F-22 and F-117.

  2. People always get upset when modern fighters look similar.  It really shouldn’t surprise anyone.  These things are designed to be aerodynamic and stealthy while containing enough internal space for the required avionics and weapons systems.  In other words, everyone is looking for the perfect answer to the same problem.

    Of COURSE they’re going to come up with very similar answers.  There are reasons the F-22’s wings are shaped that way, and why they have canted tails, and the “cobra-like” design around the air intakes, and two engines.  The shape of the nose is extremely specific to reduce the force and noise of a sonic boom. 

    This is like saying Airbus copied Boeing when they made the A320.

  3. Russian fighter jets incorporate more Scandium-Aluminum and Scandium-Titanium alloys making them lighter and more flexible than similar American jets. But you wouldn’t see that difference in a photo.

    1. American fighter jets incorporate the most highly-trained, combat-experienced pilots on the planet, making them far more deadly than similar Russian jets. But you wouldn’t see that difference in a photo.

  4. This kinda reminds of how the F-15 looks suspiciously like the (older) MiG-25. Or how the F-86 looks like the MiG-15. Or how the P-51 looks like the Me-109. Or how the 767 looks like the A330. Or how the BAC-111 looks like the DC-9. Or how the Boeing 247 looks like the DC-3. Or…

  5. Stealthy…. not so much.
    The F-22 has shrouded exhausts, while the Sukhoi T-50 has old fashioned pipes…. unless that is just an aerodynamic testbed. Even so, switching to shrouded exhausts would change the airflow quite a lot.
    The lack of shrouded exhausts is a major issue because while the aircraft MAY be low visible on radar, the heat signature is one of the biggest dangers (easy to target and points directly to sensitive parts of the aircraft).

    Of course, the good people at Sukhoi have historically been quite clever, so I would imagine that they have something up their sleeves.

    1. You do realize that the Sukhoi T-50 is actually the one on the left, right?

      Are those not shrouded exhausts? More so, maybe , than the F-22?

      1. Yup, the Sukhoi on the left. Nope, not shrouded. Standard variable nozzle and looks like an afterburner unit at that. Serious heat. The F22 mixes cold air with the exhaust before spitting it out at the back, and uses exhaust ports that are colder (lower IR signature) due to this cold air mixing as well as being radar “stealthy” due to the shape (the jagged sawtooth shape).  
        The radar cross section of the tailpipes on the Sukhoi may be as large as the whole F-22….

        Maybe it is a mixed cold exhaust on the Sukhoi, elongated and shrouded. Still looks bog standard and looks like it would give the plane a huge radar cross section from the back or below.

        And still I think that the Sukhoi designers may not be showing us something…

  6. Blah blah blah! logic this reason that. Who gives a rats ass as long as it’s not dropping bombs on me

  7. Lets be real here folks, If you’re afraid the Russians might be as good as the US in the air, well they are….when they get around to it. The fact of the matter is the F-22 has had flying models since around 1997. Which means the USAF has been developing TTPs for it since the second its wheels left the ground. That a lot of years ahead. The design if the aircraft is 1980’s tech. Old news and somewhat irrelevant. Whats important are the computer systems, and the combat radars inside. The US is easily 25 years ahead of any other air force in the world.

    1. Of course the F-22 has been around since 1997.  You don’t just steal the plans to something that complex overnight.  These things take time.

    2. “The US is easily 25 years ahead of any other air force in the world”

      Well they should be with the cubic dollars they suck out of the economy to build things that go ‘boom’…

    3. Dunno, during the cold war is was a constant oneupmanship. USSR made something that could outperform the US stuff, USA countered and USSR responded in kind. There was a setback during the 90s thanks to the collapse and resulting turmoil, but Putin basically turned Russia around and back into the game. The arctic fleet is similarly in the best shape it has been since the Soviet days.

      1. I dunno, I don’t think the USSR had much on the US since the mid-60s. I will say their engines seemed to always have a higher weight to thrust ratio. I really like their Fulcrum, as well. The problem was even if they had a solid design, often times their avionics were lagging and they couldn’t afford to outfit all of them with their top of the line.

        1. Well, USSR did not exist post 91. And the Russian economy if the 90s where in a death spiral so a lot of the gear was parked and left to rust (including such things are their nuclear ballistic subs). But the Putin years have resulted in a crazy turnaround since then.

          1. Even so, i am not sure if your correct. I think their engines actually outperformed US ones, but they lacked the material science and so the aircrafts became heavier (the MiG-25 Foxbat for instance). And then there is the issue that USSR was a big place with a lot of variable conditions (i think some of the siberian airfields may be nothing more then cleared out permafrost turf). I think they by default designed their stuff to be much more rugged then your typical US jet (at least the airforce ones, the navy stuff likely came closer thanks to the extra requirements for carrier operations). I think one can see this in how they have adapted the basic SU-27 for carrier operations, rather then come up with a completely new design. This compared to how the US airforce flies different aircrafts from the US navy (tho the F-35 is supposedly going to be the same basic airframe for all fighter jet fielding branches).

          2. I think we are saying the same thing, more or less.

            IIRC the Foxbat’s original versions were lighter, and more heat resistant for Mach 3 flight. But titanium is freakin’ expensive, and most of them never were made to that caliber.

            The Foxbat was a failed design anyway. It was made to shoot down our Mach 3 bomber we were working on. But we cancelled that program, as ICBMs would do the job better. They kept the Foxbat, even though it wasn’t really very useful.

          3. I wouldn’t call the Foxbat “failed”. There are two ways a weapon system can be useful- one, in actual combat, and two, by intimidating your enemies. The Foxbat scared the bejeezus out of western air forces and drove development of the F-15. In 1971 one flew over the Sinai at mach 3 plus and all the IAF could do was watch. Sure, it burned out its engines in doing so, but we didn’t know that at the time, and it made one heck of an impression. It wasn’t until Viktor Belenko flew one to Japan in 1976 and afforded western intelligence a good look that the real nature of the Foxbat was known. But a failed design? No. Focused, limited, but in its element very very dangerous indeed.   

  8. They do look similar, especially from that angle. But from other views, not so much. Not really a surprise, though, since aerodynamics and radar reflection work the same way in Russia as they do in the US.

  9. This fighter is not much more than smoke and mirrors.  The Russians have managed to con the Indians in to paying for a fighter that looks stealthy and expensive but will not do much for them in the future but add some Pakistani pilots to list of Jet Aces.

    If this design is produced unchanged, it will be quickly shot down by radar guided or heat seeking missiles.  It is at best a half assed second attempt at a stealth fighter (they have flown a MiG company stealth fighter as well)… though I suppose there have been other prototypes that flopped so badly the Russians agreed to pretend they never existed.

    The only advantages the Russians have in this situation are:
    1. The USA already showed them what a stealth fighter needs to look like.
    2. They have been able to buy processing power great enough to figure out what the radar reflecting curves should be
    3. They can buy better off the shelf avionics (or steal them) now than over the last few decades.

    1. Well they’ve also got a leg up on the US in that they’ve managed to keep a new fighter jet program from going wildly over budget and fizzling out at more than one point in the last 25 years.

      We’re going to be flying F-15s and F-18s until 2050 at the rate we’ve been going.

  10. Well, there are some interesting differences in design and objectives.

    The PAK-FA (The T-50 is the current prototype) is designed for a frontal stealth aspect as a priority, with less attention to the other aspects.  The job of this aircraft is provide air superiority as the Russians see it which is in their territory over their own air defenses. It’s not a strike fighter.

    It’s also significantly more maneuverable than an F-22,

    It also carries over 25000lbs of fuel for a very long loiter time.

    As Moose1flight noted, the US has the advantage in that they have operational squadrons and have been flying this aircraft for 6 years as a fighting platform.

    I wouldn’t write it off as an export only version- The Russians have very different ideas about the type of missions they expect to accomplish.

    At home, over their own SAM belts, there’s little need to worry about below or rear-aspect stealthiness. In a dogfight, with supercruise, and high agility, they can slide in, shoot and maneuver to keep the targets from getting a good shot on them from more detectable aspect.

    These are also noted as having multiple radars mounted for 360 degree coverage, complete with the possibility of rearward firing AA missiles.

    If these were defending an area, you’d be hard pressed to take them out with anything other than an F-22, and they’d be more of a fair fight than the F-22 pilots are used to.

    1. So basically you are saying that the Russian T-50 is designed to protect the home country, while the F-22 is designed to attack foreign countries.

      1. As is the case with the F-35, resulting in questions regarding what kind of message it will send if Norway buys it as a F-16 replacement. Mind you, the purchase will happen if there is no serious outside reason not to. There is no politician in Norway willing to commit career suicide by nixing it after the nation spending millions aiding its development.

  11. Hot damn, we’ve finally got a potential adversary that kind of justifies the existence of the F-22! Take that, military-budget-criticizing pacifists!

      1. would be if you had an F-22.

        We HAVE a shitload of them, they’re just sitting in a hangar somewhere because they were built with design flaws and never had a very clear purpose for existing in the first place.

  12. Well, as others have mentioned, the T-50 is the one on the left. You can tell because of the extended engine nacelles and the vortex-reduction extension between the engines, which are  typical features of Su-27 family fighters. Yes, the T-50 is a Su-27 in drag. Yes, the Russians have updated the technology somewhat, created extended blended lifting-body canards (earlier Su-27 follow-ons like the Su-30MKI had actual forward canards rather than these blended ones) for better handling, smoothed out some curves, changed the wing design for lower drag and better lift at low speeds, changed to composites here and there to reduce radar signature, and so on and so forth, but it’s still based on the same 1970’s airframe design. If anything, the F-22 copies the Su-27/T-50, not the other way around, but since it was a clean sheet redesign it has some features (such as the recessed engine nacelles) that greatly reduce its radar signature compared to the Su-27/T-50. 

    As others have mentioned, this fighter is not anywhere near as capable at the F-22 in any offensive role. It cannot, for example, supercruise, because it has no internal weapons stowage. On the other hand, it does have excellent loiter time and range, which makes sense if you’re creating an air superiority fighter to defend the borders of a *huge* nation like Russia. It is what it is, and justifying the F-22 by claiming it’s needed to defend against the T-50 is nonsense, the T-50 is a generation behind the F-22 and has completely different goals.

    1. it does have internal weapon bays with optional external hardpoints. but the truth is, the thing on the picture is one of the two prototypes, not the final product. and there are two more to follow. on other hand the development of both pak fa and f 22 started around same time in the 80s. so i would imagine the russians had plenty of time to think through different nuances of building a stealth air superiority fighter. saying that pak fa is a ripoff is like saying that f 86 was a ripoff of mig 15 just cause they look kinda the same. seriously. and its even more silly to compare something unfinished, that is still going through trials to something that is still grounded.

      1. And likely one made to test the radar stealth properties of the design and materials, using a SU-27 frame to speed the construction.

    1. I pulled Evan’s silly comment out of the moderator’s shitcan, so that his belief that I am ‘pretending to be an authority’ may contribute to the general amusement.

  13. I think the Wright Brothers should be upset everyone is copying the concept of powered flight!

    Oh, and caption flip flop. #corrections

  14. As much as I love these new gen fighters, we don’t really NEED anything more than updated F-18/F-15/F-16 planes.

    1. The US Navy actually is one military entity that has had a pretty good balance between getting what it wants in a pie in the sky fighter and using its dollars wisely (Excluding their variant of the F-35- if it weren’t for the Marines (part of the Navy) the F-35 would be in full production and have already fielded combat squadrons). Aside from thrust vectoring and the stealthy part, the newest iteration of the F-18, the F-18-F, has the avionics, combat radars, and combat computing capability that the F-22 and F-35 does in a “legacy” fighter package. Right now because the F-35 aren’t fielded and the F-22 is sitting on its keister for at least a few more weeks it is for all intents the most capable and most modern Strike/figher/Attack platform in the sky right now.  And as Mister44 clearly states. Its truly all the US needs for a war right now. The US has a long tradition of spending money for a war in the future. That is why they are, again, so ridiculously dominate.

      1. Yeah – I heard about the revamped F-18s. Seemed like a good example of doing more with what you already have, based on a solid, proven platform.

        During the cold war we had someone to keep pace with us. Now Russia and China are the top two behind us, but neither of them are really putting out anything that our present day fighters still don’t outmatch (nor will in the foreseeable future). And of course there is the fact that we aren’t staring each other down, considering the other one an enemy.

  15. Please, the T-50 has just started flight test. To compare it with the operational F-22 is quite premature. At least we know it flies. So does the J-20. More than that, speculation.

    As as for our “lead” in stealth technology, ah- don’t count on that lasting a whole lot longer. The technology works, so everyone’s piling on- if not with stealth fighters, then steath UAVs and missiles. The U.S. military is hedging its bets by also keeping hypersonic research alive (if you’re going that fast it doesn’t matter if they can see you or not.)

    And the original scientific paper that allowed the U.S. to perform the calculations to develop stealth in the first place? Russian. So who stole what from whom?

    1. By the time Russia (or anyone else) fields these planes in any significant numbers, the USAF will likely be moving on to stealthy 6th-gen UCAV fighters with no meat in the cockpit, and you won’t believe the maneuvers and Gs that a pure machine will be able to pull.

      1. Perhaps, tho there are some very big issues with that in terms of culpability. Ground attacks, especially against stationary targets, are one thing as they can be approved by humans even with sat induced time delay. But those UCAVs would have to be basically autonomous thanks to the split second timing needed in a dogfight.

        And for a real life example:

        Basically a software glitch in the radar system allowed the operator to miss-id the passenger aircraft as a fighter jet, resulting in 290 passengers being killed.

  16. It’s similar, but the back of the dress and the buildings are different and the blackbird is in a different location.

  17. I’m surprised no one else has commented on this – the one on the left (which I gather is the Russian one) looks really cool, with the blue color and the neon green detailing.

  18.      Oh my. You folks are crazy about your jets and conspiracy theories. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about the design just yet either. You first must remember that any war fought with these so called “fifth generation” fighters against other “fifth generation” fighters would result in a quick loss for the folks with the worst pilots/lowest numbers. You have to remember that production, quality of training, and having a good easily produced, easily maintained, simple aircraft like the P-51 wins wars. While German pilots may have been fantastic and their Bf-109s masterpieces, their failure to develop technology at a faster rate than the enemy and an inability to match or exceed enemy production due to over complicated construction of the DB601 and DB605 engines bogging down production, cost them the war. What bugs me about these aircraft, is the whole bit about them being so damn complicated, hard to produce and expensive. There is no way we could sustain any kind of prolonged conflict with our current Air force, provided the aircraft attacking are not designed with the role of defense in mind.

         By the way, to the guy who seems to think the Zeke is a rip off of some Hughes design, go do some research. The aircraft was a completely original design, save for the prop and main gear wheels. The prop was licensed by Hamilton Standard before the War and the wheels it used were licensed by some other company before the war. I don’t remember what company it was, nor do I care enough to go mull around the internet for hours trying to find this information, so don’t call me a hypocrite.

    1. You mean sustainable like the last 10 years, or something other than that? This isn’t even counting the Golden Days of aircraft like the F15E during the 1990s in operations Northern and Southern Watch.  Air power in the form currently in operation in Afghanistan and less recently in Iraq is the longest running air war in history. There is a reason the US has the best trained and the most lethal fighters in the world. So we don’t have to compete in that arena. Shooting them while they’re on the ground is much easier and less costly from the US perspective.

      Politics of the current wars aside. From a pure military standpoint there is an amazing amount of value in having constant low level wars. Everyone who wants it, American Active Duty, Guard and Reserve get all the practice they want. This thread runs deep throughout the DOD and includes all services aside from the Air Force.  Because of the last 10 years the US has worked out a lot of bugs that it encountered in 1989+ with Saddam Hussein. A ground war of which was dominated buy 2 things. American Armor and American Air Air Power. Anyone would be hard pressed to find another military apparatus that can work with the same amount of cross component Fusion as the Americans. This Ideology represents a major departure from the “old guard” military thought circles from just 10-15 years ago.

      F22’s and F35’s are strategically designed to dominate the skys so that the rest of the US Air Force can kill everything on the ground. 3 aircraft (that we know of) can do this today. The F-22 the F-35 and the F-18F and that’s not even including their allied aircraft (and US trained too) Euro Fighters, and F-16 Block 60+ and Strong-backs. I would challenge your sustainability comment. Mostly because our sustainability isnt build upon the backs of the F-22 and F-35, its built on our 4th Gen Fighters in the F15/16/18s…at least until the 6th Gens fly. Its more likely that we are witnessing the end of manned kinetic combat aircraft.

    1. Thats an Astonishing write up! I hope we don’t have to go to war with the Russians anytime soon. I do have one comment. How is it that the Russians can propose to field this fighter by 2015? Are they really that much better at production than the Americans? As I said before, the F-22 has been flying since 1997. Did i read this correctly that even an (not totally) independent 3rd party in the Aussies said this is the first iteration of a tech demonstrator? From that line, then the Americans are still dominant 11-14 years. And really who knows what Lockheed and Boeing are working on right now. Standard aviation dev times say that if this a tech demo that there’s lots of time to maintain the advantage acquired when the Russians were hosting their revolution.

      1. “How is it that the Russians can propose to field this fighter by 2015?”

        Simple answer? They can’t. Not in numbers that matter.

  19. If the T-50 is intended to equal or surpass the F-22, no way they’re going to field it by 2015. There’s just too many things to do. They can get some airframes flying and show them off to potential customers, but software and systems integration take time. (Oh, and when they do come on the market? The USAF will take four…)

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