Russia’s Sukhoi T-50 5th generation fighter performed its first demonstration flight at the MAKS 2011 International Aviation and Space Show on Wednesday.
The flight was observed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and other dignitaries.
Experts said the pilots had not performed any aerobatic stunts because the plane is still going through a series of test flights.
It was important for the manufacturers to show that “the plane no longer exists just on paper, but is fleshed out in metal and up in the air.”
The T-50, developed under the program PAK FA (Future Aviation System for Tactical Air Force) at the Sukhoi OKB, will be the jewel in the Russian Air Force’s crown. The service has relied on the Mikoyan MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 family of combat aircraft as the core of its fighter force since the mid-1980s, but these aircraft are seen as approaching obsolescence.
The T-50 is Russia’s first new major combat aircraft designed since the fall of the Soviet Union. When an operational fighter based on it is put into service, possibly as soon as 2015, it will be the Russian Air Force’s first stealth aircraft, featuring low-observable technology that makes it almost impossible to detect with radar.
Like its U.S. counterpart, the F-22 Raptor, it will be able to cruise at supersonic speeds, and be capable of pulling high-G maneuvers that older aircraft cannot match thanks to thrust-vectoring exhaust nozzles and a hi-tech flight control system.
The T-50 made its first flight at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur factory airfield in Siberia in January, and since then two prototypes have been undergoing flight tests at the Zhukovsky flight test center near Moscow.