Originally posted by paraphi
(a) The PAK-FA project has come and gone in the past.
The programme was originally conceived in times which blustered Russia around. Their economy was not stable in those times, but it has since improved.
The funding problems they were lamenting before are not nearly so constant now, so the program is significantly more secure in its position. Merely
because a program has been stopped for evaluation and to locate proper funding does not mean it will fail on its outset. Rather, if it has been
restarted it is likely because the aircraft developers feel that they will be able to produce an aircraft of a quality sufficient to justify all the
PITA that getting it up and running has been.
(b) New aircraft are expensive and I doubt Russia could afford to develop a fifth generation competitor or equal to the F22/35. Even the US has
trouble justifying the cost of these development projects. We are talking billions of USD at a time when the Russian air force can hardly afford to
train its aircrew, (record low flight hours logged) and a third of the existing stock of aircraft in an apparent un-operational state.
Don't count Russia out. They are fully capable of harnessing their economy to propel the project forward. The Cold-War philosophy that Russia is a
broken-down machine that fails to put anything out has never really held water, and doesn't now.
As for the aircrews, why should they be constantly put into aircraft that are expensive to maintain? They aren't in a state of war, and aren't
attempting to blow anyone up like the American forces currently are. In the event that war broke out between them and another nation it is quite
likely that the entire air force would not be required for operations, and if the enemy was so powerful that it did necessitate complete mobilization
then funds would be allocated and training would become daily. The funds that are required to keep aircraft continuously running for training are
better placed elsewhere since the need for the training isn't really present.
And since many of the aircraft are not in flyable condition, it seems a rather good idea to replace them, possibly with a new aircraft that may or may
not be underway. Said aircraft might just feature such advancements as stealth, thrust vectoring, BVR engagement abilities, advanced radar, and extra
cupholders since a single can of Diet Coke just doesn't cover the whole sortie. Seriously though, Russia doesn't need that particular third of
aircraft. They're not in a state of war. If war were to break out chances are pretty good that the aircraft could be put into action in short order,
but until a time comes that they are needed the funds to prepare the aircraft can be allocated to better uses.
(c) The output of PAK-FA (so far) is a selection of interesting one-offs and latterly a host of artist impressions which may (or may not) have
legitimate connection with current work. There is a vast array of conflicting “facts” in the public domain, a lot of speculation and no real
evidence or substance. Some of the conflicting “bits” I have seen revolve around the weight of aircraft (crucial); the degree of stealth; the
participation of India; whether PAK-FA is or was part of the recently shelved lightweight fighter project (LFI); the engines; first flight 2007, 2008
The one-offs are actually an excellent way to prepare oneself to produce something. Rather than taking a stab at creating a 5th generation aircraft
with heavy-duty manufacturing requirements, it's indeed a far better idea to get into the practice. To see what works, and what doesn't. Hence, the
MiG 1.42/1.44 Flatpack and Su-47 Berkut/Firkin. This is similar to the YF-22/YF-23 competition, but (IMHO) an improved version. While America decided
to take the F-22 and start working on it for a production version, it sparked a lot of arguments over "should have". People are still saying the
Black Widow would have been better. I personally don't care. But what if you were to unite the two companies to produce a Raptor/Widow hybrid that
combines aspects of both to create an aircraft that surpasses both of them? This is what Russia has done. Sukhoi and Mikoyan were both plopped into
the program (Sukhoi was formed as head, but Mikoyan is also providing design support) as the Consortium to produce PAK-FA. So now we have both
companies who took very different directions to produce 5th Generation (I don't care if people classify them as 4.5 generation, they are recent
enough to be 5th generation. Trying to make the Raptor and Lightening II better by making them the only 5th generation aircraft is Cold War dogma and
I won't participate) aircraft, succeeded quite admirably, and they are now united to form an even newer aircraft, combining effective traits of both
I find it difficult to say that this aircraft will not be formidable or worth the effort of manufacturing having looked at these facts.