FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he arrives to deliver a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 4, 2021. Dmitri Lovetsky/Pool via REUTERS
July 20, 2021
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is expected to unveil a new Sukhoi fifth-generation stealth fighter jet at an air show near Moscow attended by President Vladimir Putin later on Tuesday.
A brief promotional video released ahead of the MAKS air show featured pilots from UAE, India, Vietnam and Argentina, suggesting that Moscow wants to pitch the plane for export.
Oleg Panteleyev, head of the Aviaport analytical agency, said it would be touted as a rival to the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter.
It is not known when the plane might be ready for serial production. It is unlikely to take to the air when it goes on show.
Russia has invested heavily in military aircraft and new armaments under Putin, both for its own armed forces and also to boost export revenue from weapon sales. Many of its new weapons are still based on Soviet-era technology from the Cold War.
Rostec, Russia’s state aerospace and defence conglomerate, released photographs of the new plane covered in a protective covering in the run-up to the air show.
In May, an unnamed defence source cited by state news agency RIA said that Rostec was working on a fifth generation light multi-role fighter jet with a single engine.
The aircraft was expected to have a maximum speed of more than twice the speed of sound, to weigh no more than 18 tonnes, and to have reduced radar visibility and high manoeuvrability, that source said.
Sergei Chemezov, Rostec’s chief, said last December the conglomerate was looking at producing a light single-jet fighter for export.
Russia already has fourth-generation fighter jets – the heavy-class Sukhoi Su-27 and light-class Mikoyan MiG-29. It only has one heavy-class fifth generation fighter jet, the Su-57, but no light-class equivalent, Panteleyev said.
“Light-class fighter jets are more in demand in the world than heavy-class ones – they are cheaper and more suitable for states that don’t have large territories,” he told Reuters.
In 2011, Russia used the MAKS air show to unveil the Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter.
United Aircraft Corporation, which is part of Rostec, owns the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer that dates back to the Soviet era.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Alison Williams)