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  • Russia Debuts Stealth Fighter—with Implications for the U.S.

    The chief of Russia’s air force announced this week that the PAK FA, Russia’s fifth-generation stealth fighter, will enter service in 2015. This would be close to the time when two U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants for the U.S. Air Force (F-35A) and the Navy (F-35C) are expected to attain initial operational capability in 2016. This display means the U.S. must keep its own Joint Strike Fighter program on schedule for production.

    The public flight of a PAK FA’s T-50 prototype before the world, at the MAKS–2011 International Aviation and Space Salon, is a demonstration of Russia’s firm commitment to develop this aircraft for its own use and to sell it around the world.

    Russian authorities have declared that they intend to acquire 60 PAK FA aircraft by 2020. Russia’s stated objective is to acquire 250 fifth-generation aircraft, but more are possible. India would acquire at least 250 and up to 300 of its PAK FA version, the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft.

    With the closure of the U.S. F-22 stealth fighter production line at 187 aircraft, America’s main answer—and that of U.S. allies—to the PAK FA is the F-35, a multirole fighter. While it is too soon to know, the F-35 may ultimately have inferior specifications to the Russian fighter in terms of speed, maneuverability, range, weapons load, and possibly even stealth. In this regard, the Russians have described the future operational PAK FA as a fighter whose “use of composite materials and advanced technologies…minimizes its radio-frequency, optical and infrared visibility.”

    It may be that when they referred to a reduced “optical…visibility,” the Russians were referring to the use—probably in later versions of the PAK FA—of metamaterials and “electronic camouflage,” or “e-camouflage.” With this technology, micro-cameras covering the surface of the aircraft would capture real-time images of the fighter’s environment. Through advanced computers and the use of metamaterials, the cameras would project those images onto the plane’s surface to make it look like the sky or the terrain around it. This would mean virtual invisibility for the PAK FA. This “e-camouflage” technology appears in the James Bond movie “Die Another Day,” in which 007’s Aston Martin car has it to remain invisible to the naked eye.

    Since the PAK FA is a multirole fighter, it could then fly land attack missions during broad daylight; it would not need to strike at night like some U.S. bombers, the now-retired F-117, and possibly the F-35. Invisibility may give the PAK FA an advantage in a dogfight if the enemy pilot cannot see the actual plane. However, the F-35 is equipped with the highly sensitive Electro-Optical Sensor System, which may allow its pilot, wearing a helmet-mounted display, to see the heat emitted by a PAK FA.

    Whether the PAK FA would have this “e-camouflage” technology or not, it is important that the U.S. deploys a robust force of fifth-generation fighters capable of meeting potential challengers like the PAK FA or the Chinese J–20. The U.S. would need adequate numbers of these fifth-generation fighters to replace potential combat losses and to have numerical superiority in a war with a major air power.

    Congress should consider the implications of Russia exporting this stealth fighter to other nations. In addition to India, Russia could sell the PAK FA to Iran if the U.N. arms embargo is lifted, or to Arab countries if the U.S. refuses to sell them the F–35, as well as to Venezuela, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and perhaps even China, since the PAK FA appears to have more internal bomb capacity than the J–20.

    The warnings are out there. It is up to U.S. leaders to read the signs and act accordingly before it is too late.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Russia Debuts Stealth Fighter—with Implications for the U.S.

    1. JeffC says:

      This is a joke article right ? James Bond cloaking technology on a jet ? You do realize nobody looks for fighter jets with their eyes anymore … Remember the Foxbat Russian jet that was going to sweep the US from the skies ? You should look it up before believing a world the Russians say about military technology …

    2. Son of Eagle Power says:

      He who rules the sky rules the world.

    3. @E_L_P says:

      Yet the F-35 in no way can be the answer. The design is unstable and its operational requirement (JORN) was signed off in 2000. It is affordable export-friendly stealth that was designed with the idea that there would always be plenty of F-22s to clear away the high end threats. We saw how that turned out.
      The F-35 program is in trouble and now with the closing of F-22 production–so is America's air domination ability.

    4. Lloyd Scallan says:

      So what does Obama, Dems, and many in the old GOP do in the face of this continuing threat to our
      nation's securty. They figue out new, improved, and more inventive "back door" ways to defund our military and defense systems. Wake up America. It's not just Obama and the Dems. Within the past few days, Boehner made it almost impossible for sitting Congressman to visit Israel to offer support in their fight for their nation's survival.

      • Israel? WTH does Israel have to do with this. In the case of a War with Russia socialist Israel would sit back and let us get turned to Carbon and dust.

    5. Wes in the midwest says:

      The answer to this is very simple, repeal Obamacare and put the money in National Defense.
      But with the empty suit we have in the WH, not a good chance of this happening.
      I certainly HOPE that we can CHANGE the dictator mindset in this admin. and that
      CHANGE will give us some HOPE for the future.

      • Iceman says:

        Dont you republicans have anything better to do than keep saying repeal Obamacare. Have you even read the plan or are you just like others brawing out of your arse.

        • David Pruitt says:

          Read it? WHY? No one read it when they voted on it,,, 3500 pages of pure crap 2 good things in it is all Keep your kids on your heath care till their older,, and no insurance can deny people with pre existing conditions. Thats it! Why would you have to include the hiring of 2500 IRS agents,,, as a part of a health care bill?? None of the cost of this stupid bill are even revealed to people until 2013,, by then it will be too late, and EVERY BODY will be paying more taxes for this crappy law,,, well except those people who pay no taxes.

    6. China is attempting to control outer space, Russia is attempting to control the air, as Mr. President enjoys yet another vacation. I don't think this is the Fundamental Transformation voters were thinking he meant, but he knew.

    7. RennyG says:

      Sorry, he doesn't have time because he is running for re-election!!!!!!
      On our knees and pray to the one who has control over this mess!!!!!!! How do you think "He" feels??????

    8. Herb O'Fallon says:

      Sad, but it seems some of our government is bent on destroying our Country. The worst part of it is that all of us will suffer if things aren't done in a dramatically different way than they usually are. Hello, D. C. Wake up. Get your head out of your butt.

    9. Biggy says:

      The PAK-FA is a paper tiger as Sun Tzu would put it. Basically ALL the russians have of a 5th gen platform is the aerostructure. The engines are not ready, the flight control system is not ready and weapon testing has not really been completed and it is not even passed Initial Operational Clearance.

      This is a test aircraft at best, while the nearly 180 odd F22s are real-world war machines.

      This metamaterials and James bond stuff is very unlikely to happen as the technology is a LONG LONG way away from actual commercial application. Plus, most of the current research into metamaterials is being done in the USA, so if anything America will have fighters equipped with metamaterials much before the Russians do.

    10. Goofball says:

      Not to mention that this article says nothing more then to sell the new Joint Strike fighter to third worlds countries. That is what they need to copy the technologies so they can then build there own from a carbon copy of what we have now. Russian technology is 20 years behind the curve and everyone knows it. Call me stupid for saying it, but people need to focus on the internal USA and not the rest of the world.

      Lets clean up our own backyard before we clean up the rest of the worlds. When the enemy comes knocking on our door, we will be ready to deal with that threat as it comes. But for now America needs to focus on America and say screw the rest. Let Russia police the world, or Saudi Arabia feed the North Koreans and the Somalians.

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