Russia’s T-50 stealth fighter prototype, the first radar-evading warplane outside the U.S. when it debuted in January 2010, is slightly less stealthy than the American F-22 and about equal to the smaller F-35. But in several other respects the new warplane from the Russian Sukhoi design bureau is actually superior to the American models.
That’s the surprising conclusion of the first-ever public scientific analysis of the T-50′s Radar Cross-Section (RCS), completed this week by Dr. Carlo Kopp, an analyst with the independent think tank Air Power Australia.
“The shaping of the T-50 is inferior to that of the F-22 Raptor,” Kopp writes in his dense, jargon-heavy report. But the F-35 and T-50, he adds, exhibit “similar … RCS behavior.”
But Kopp’s assessment of the T-50 comes with caveats. Quite a few of them, actually. To match the stealthiness of the Lockheed Martin F-35 — to say nothing of the company’s F-22 — Sukhoi’s engineers will have to, among other changes, modify the T-50′s engines to a less obtrusive fitting and add a layer of radar-absorbing material to the plane’s skin.
With the revised engines and skin, the T-50′s “specular RCS performance will satisfy the Very Low Observable (VLO) requirement that strong specular returns are absent in the nose sector angular domain,” Kopp writes. Translated into plain English, Kopp’s saying that an optimized version of the Russian jet could be very, very difficult to detect by most radars as it’s bearing down on them.
Major refinements are standard practice as stealth prototypes go through development, it’s worth noting. The F-22 and the F-35 underwent big design changes as each was developed over 15 years or more. The T-50, only four of which have been built, has been flying for just under three years and isn’t scheduled to enter frontline service until 2016 at the earliest. There’s time for the Russians to finesse the design, just as the Chinese are doing with their stealth planes.
Granted, by 2016 the Americans could possess hundreds of combat-ready F-35s plus the roughly 180 F-22s already in service. The T-50 could make up for its lateness with impressive performance that in some ways exceeds even the F-22′s vaunted capabilities.
One Russian advantage is what Kopp calls “extreme plus agility” — a consequence of the T-50′s “advanced aerodynamic design, exceptional thrust/weight ratio performance and three dimensional thrust vectoring integrated with an advanced digital flight control system.”
The second advantage: “exceptional combat persistence, the result of an unusually large 25,000-pound internal fuel load,” Kopp writes. The T-50 could keep flying and fighting long after the F-22 and F-35 have run out of gas.
Moreover, the T-50 will dodge certain radars better than others, according to Kopp — and U.S. sensors are among the worst at detecting the T-50′s unique shape, he contends. Kopp’s breakdown of T-50 RCS by radar type shows Chinese “counter-VLO radars,” specifically designed to spot American stealth planes, detecting the T-50 best.
The next best sensors to use against the Russian fighter is the UHF radar aboard the U.S. Navy’s E-2 early-warning planes. American fighter radars, including those aboard the F-22 and F-35, are of middling effectiveness against the T-50, Kopp asserts.
“No fundamental obstacles exist in the shaping design of the T-50 prototype which might preclude its development into a genuine Very Low Observable design,” Kopp concludes.
In other words: Watch out, America! You’re now only one of three countries with a truly radar-evading warplane in the air.
Air Power Australia.is a joke. Remember this is other countries first version of stealth fighters , The F22 and F35 are the USA 6th and 7th operations stealth aircraft, the result of 40 years of manfacturing stealth planes. True stealth planes are not something one with the technology of Russia can build right out of the starting gate.
Last edited by average american; 17-11-12 at 07:11 PM.
Average American is obsessed and morbidly nervous of the certain superior features the T50 has. Therefore, his rant is understandable. The American way, after the fall of the Soviet Union, has always been to discredit others through words all the while their armies and machines suffer major reverses at the hands of rag-tag outfits like the Taliban.
If F22/35 is at all a performer or not can only be understood once it is put to active use. The Americans have just kept their fleet 'grounded' while multiple problems keep cropping up, and now through propaganda, they want to hide their failure. Remember, average american, no amount of propaganda will protect your house from being AGM'd by a T50, if the world sees a US-Russia conflict some day. So keep your mind open and sharp.
Can you post the list of 6-7 stealth fighters that have been produced by the US. I googled and found that only stealth planes in production were F117, B2, F22 and now F35. Rest have been cancelled or tech demonstrators only.
.ooohh jeeeez are you kidding?or what?as a matter of fact:russian aircraft designers and industries are recognizes world wide,(specialy: sukhoi is the crown jewel of that)anyone who is try to denied that is just ruining it's own credibility.what is very common ammongs average people.I sure you know what I mean your patriotism should't affect your judgment.
The thing is: the F22 has better RCS than the T-50. So its edge is in BVR combat. But the T-50 like all other members of the Sukhoi family, is extra maneuverable. That means it has a better chance of evading missile(since its RCS is 2nd best) and its an unquestionably the best modern dogfighter. The Australians realise that with the F-35 going haywire, the F22 is the only credible defence against fighters like the T 50 and to a much lesser extent the J-20.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about how US military strength compares to that of China and Russia. Here are a few of the main categories from 2009 as well as a reference for more info.
Military Defense Spending and Budgets
USA - $515,400,000,000
China - $59,000,000,000
Russia - $43,200,000,000
USA - 18,169
China - 1,900
Russia - 3,888
USA - 1559
China - 760
Russia - 526
USA - 12
China - 1
Russia - 1
USA - 50
China - 21
Russia - 15
In addition one must consider that this difference in military budgets has been going on since the USSR collapsed almost 20 years ago. Plus the degree of sophistication of the technology is drastically different as well. ie. All tanks are not created equal! (These numbers do not include atomic weapons).
I wont go into such matters as USA expericence in war, Afganstan, Iraq, Gulf, Kuwait. I will point out the USA has been spending 75 billion a year, year after year on military research and development while the Russians spend less then 2 billion.
I keep wondering every time I hear about the Russian military vs the USA from you all is "Are you all out of your minds."
The US accounted for more than 60 percent of global spending on military
r&d of an estimated US $85 bn in 2004. The USA spends tens times that on civilian research from which their is cross over into military applications.
.Nobody questioned the power of the us armed forces?for example:if I like german chocklet it does not make me a traitor,and the same thing with this jet it it doesn;t make me a communist.I LIKE DEMOCRACY AND THE US.I the one too who cheers up for the US but as a matter of fact.you don,t get the point! Where is your professionalism? this is ridicoulius!!!and you are use your informations unapropietly.fanboy? or PR?this topic should be about avionics enthusiasms.NOT ABOUT PR or LOBBY.you sound more like an advertisment...dude you know the guy who is just try to sell you something...or you know what?if you do... you have to do a much better job of it because it is just annoying.YES FOR FREEDOM NO FOR DUMBNESS.