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Maiden flight of Russian fifth generation fighter by end of year

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File photo of Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov (L) with Indian PM Dr Manmohan Singh. India is a partner in the project. Press Information Bureau of India photo

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia will flight test its fifth generation fighter aircraft by the end of this year.

The aircraft, being developed by Sukhoi design bureau, would have two variants—one for Russia and the other for India. The Sukhoi design bureau was hopeful that it would be ready by 2010. India is a partner nation in the project.

"We expect the aircraft to take to the skies no later than the end of this year," deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Russia is working on two variants of the fifth generation fighter. One is a single pilot aircraft while the other will have a two-member crew. India is keen to have a twin crew aircraft, as required by the Indian Air Force. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will play a significant role in the development, and an assembly line for the future fighter would be in India.

The aircraft will have high stealth features and is expected to play a major role in the future in air forces of both India and Russia. The two sides were hoping that the project would be completed in the next five years. Russia had already made advanced progress on the design of the single-seat fifth generation fighter. The new variant will take longer to develop, as it would have certain design changes while other things remaining same.

The Russian deputy prime minister said the first flight trial would be held in the South Volga region of Astrakhan. Ivanov was in Astrakhan to inspect construction facilities for the new fighter.

The only fifth generation fighter in operation at the moment is the American F-22 Raptor. But even the US is finding it difficult to increase the numbers, as the operational and development cost of the aircraft is very high.

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