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T-50 fifth generation fighter makes debut at MAKS '11

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The Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation fighter. Photo: Sukhoi.

ZHUKOVSKY (PTI): Russia Wednesday unveiled its first stealth fighter here, lifting the curtain on the secret project being developed at a fraction of the cost of American F-22 and F-35 fighters.

The Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation fighter took to the skies at the MAKS 2011 air show in the presence of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Russian Air Force chief announced that new fighters will enter service in 2014-15.

The sleek silver prototypes fighter performed aerobatic stunts for 15 minutes for Putin and top Russian and Indian brass, in a show indicating that Moscow is pushing for a full scale revival of its military aviation industry.

"The new stealth fighter will provide the backbone not only of the Russian air force but also of the Indian air force," Mikhail Pogosyan, president of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the makers of the plane declared after the show.

Pogosyan said that Russia's cooperation with India on this key project will help to push the stealth fighter in the foreign market.

The new fighter is being jointly developed by India and Russia under the 2007 FGFA agreement signed by Defence Minister AK Antony during his Moscow visit.

Under the agreement, India will get up to 200 T-50 fighters, while the Russians are planning to order 150. The T-50 jets are being developed at an estimated cost of USD 10 billion of which India would invest USD 600 million.

But even taking into cost of escalation, Russian media said the new stealth fighters would be far economical than the US made F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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