Russia to Start Receiving PAK FA Jet After 2018

Russia’s stealth fighter jet program continues to move forward as the military prepares to put the jet, known as the PAK FA, through state tests.

The Russian answer to the American F-22 stealth jet, the PAK FA, will soon be ready for military state tests and will go into serial production either in 2018 or the following year. Responding to a question from journalists, Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov confirmed on February 3, 2017 that serial production would be forthcoming soon.Tass News Agency quoted Borisov as saying, “Most likely, this will be already the next state armament program, i.e. 2018-2025.” He was responding to a question regarding the time frame for delivery of an operational jet to the Russian military.

Borisov added,

“We are holding an operational evaluation and have purchased limited batches. We’ll see how they will operate in practice. We are now revealing all drawbacks and making changes to ensure that we purchase practically proven examples when time comes.”

Earlier this year, the Russian Aerospace Force confirmed it would receive five PAK FA jets later in 2017. These jets will be for the military to put through its own trials, following completion of industry tests. Russian military pilots will learn how to operate the planes and thereafter conduct the flight tests themselves, according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

As indicated by Borisov’s time frame, these tests will likely be finished some time in 2018 or 2019 at the latest, after which — assuming no setbacks — serial production of an operational version may begin. That schedule roughly corresponds to a statement Borisov made last summer suggesting that serial production could begin sometime in 2018.
To date, eight PAK FA prototypes have been built and test-flown. The Russian military industry has also developed a G-suit designed specifically for pilots of the aircraft and has started making production models of the jet’s AESA radar. The jet’s second-stage engine will not be ready for some time, but has begun ground testing, ahead of flight tests in 2017.

It is unclear how many PAK FAs Russia will order in an initial batch. Previous estimates of dozens of jets have been cut to a preliminary 12. The size of the order will depend on both the condition of Russia’s military budget and the result of the military testing that will begin soon.

Borisov indicated that the PAK FA order could be in the 2018-2025 state armament program, which is currently being prepared and likely to be announced by mid-2017.

Lead Analyst, Defense Markets and Strategic Analysis at Forecast International | + posts

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

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