The world of aviation is moving towards the rapid adoption of stealth technology, whether for drones, bombers, or fighter aircraft.
As such, it comes as little surprise that Russia has significantly accelerated development of its stealth program in recent years, and remains on track to debut an operational Sukhoi PAK FA twin-engine stealth jet fighter sometime in 2015.
Sukhoi director Mikhail Pogosyan says he sees a market for 1,000 fifth-gen T-50 aircraft over the next four decades, which will be produced in a joint venture with India: 200 each for Russia and India and 600 for other (as yet unnamed) countries.
Sources are claiming that the Russian aircraft uses similar technology to US planes, with an Israeli analyst confirming the “Russians have managed to close the gap, and in a big way.”
As Arie Egoz of IsraelDefense notes, a stealth aircraft boasts a unique geometric design that prevents radar waves from returning to the antenna of a transmitting station, thus preventing its detection. The body of the aircraft is typically painted with special radar absorbing materials, which also helps to prevent radar stations from detecting the plane.
It should be noted that Russia views the new T-50 as a “central measure” in its efforts to increase the export of military systems. To be sure, Moscow exported such systems at a total worth of approximately $9 billion in 2010, and plans to rapidly expand the scope of its defense exports in the near future.