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April 28, 2016 No.
6407

Top Russian Test Pilot: Russia - Not The U.S. - Is The Only Country With Successful Fifth-Generation Aircraft

On April 11, 2016, the pro-Kremlin media outlet Pravda.ru published an interview with Anatoly Kvochur, a distinguished Russian test pilot, who started his career in the Soviet forces and is currently deputy chief of the Gromov Flight Research Institute at Zhukovsky airbase. In the interview, Kvochur states that Russia has developed successful fifth-generation fighter aircraft - as opposed to the U.S., whose F-22 and F-35 fifth-generation fighter jets should, he claims, be considered a "failure."[1] He also asserts that Russia's "military doctrine is purely defensive," whereas U.S. military doctrine is "a doctrine of global domination."

On March 2, 2016, Russian Aerospace Forces commander Viktor Bondarev announced that Russia's sixth-generation fighter is being developed in both manned and unmanned versions.[2]

The following are excerpts from Kvochur's interview with Pravda.ru:[3]


Anatoly Kvochur (Source: Migflug.com)

The Russian Air Force After The Collapse Of The USSR

Q: "What happened to Russian aviation after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and where are we going now?"

A: "Over the past few years, Russia has created several unique aircraft. The Su-35 is already in use, and we have been testing the fifth-generation T-50 for several years. These are very good results, because no one would have believed this possible in the mid-1990s. Aviation is a very complicated industry. Only the Soviet Union could produce powerful aircraft and helicopters on its own. When it fell apart, many aviation companies found themselves outside the country [i.e. in former Soviet Republics]. This is the case, for example, with Motor Sich - one of the largest companies in the world for the production, testing, maintenance, operation, and repair of 55 types and modifications of reliable engines. Today, this is a Ukrainian company... Russia has lost a lot..."

Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft

Q: "Russia has even surpassed foreign competitors at this point."

A: "True. It turned out that the project for the development of the [U.S.] F-22 Raptor fifth-generation aircraft was begun at about the same time that development began for the Russian fifth-generation fighter... [However,] the F-22 was recognized as an unsuccessful project. Only about 150 aircraft were produced, while the original plan was to build 700 jets, and. production of this aircraft has been discontinued. Although it could be an excellent aircraft with all the required features - low visibility, maneuverability, maintainability and a supersonic cruising speed - the project was shelved."

 

Q: "They [the U.S.] find themselves in a situation where they have no fifth-generation aircraft."

A: "They had a failed project, so they did not start building another aircraft of the same category. Unlike the U.S., Russia has created a fundamentally different aircraft known as the PAK FA T-50. In addition, Russia has launched serial production of the Su-35 - an intermediate variant, which is a heavily optimized and improved copy of the Su-27. Super-maneuverability, extensive flight range, qualitatively improved on board sighting and navigation systems - all this indicates that parity is likely to be restored."


A Russian  Su-35 aircraft (Source: ©Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Sputnik)

Q: "The [U.S.] F-35 is also said to be an unsuccessful project. Australian specialists compared the F-35 to Russia's T-50 and Su-35. As a result, the F-35 was described as a third-generation aircraft with elements of a fifth-generation fighter jet."

A: "First, the F-35 is designed as a land-based, vertical takeoff and landing, short takeoff and landing, and deck-based aircraft. The USSR had a similar jet - it was called the Yak-41. Yakovlev Design Bureau was the only bureau that had the vertical takeoff and landing technology. They built the Yak-38 airplane for aircraft carriers. It could be a supersonic aircraft that, like the F-35, could activate the afterburner. The project was shelved when the USSR halted its development... The Americans had no vertical takeoff and landing technology. They used the Harrier, a British plane. The U.K. is a very strong country in the aircraft-building industry.

"Russia's military doctrine is purely defensive. We must be able to protect our country and people. We do not need to board aircraft carriers to travel to other continents. The U.S. military doctrine is a doctrine of global domination. If I am not mistaken, they have 17 aircraft carriers. Russia has only one. The Americans need aircraft that they can send to Vietnam, Cambodia, the Middle East, and so on. A vertical takeoff and landing aircraft is what the Americans need most."


The above cartoon shows American engineers amazed at the sheer size of future Russian aircraft. (Source: Vitaly Podvitsky, Ria.ru, March 3, 2016)

Q: "... Russia did not have a multifunctional fighter jet."

A: "...There was a unique MiG-31M aircraft. This aircraft had a supersonic cruising speed of 2,500 km/h. No competitors here! The maximum speed was 3,000 km/h. The MiG-31M could lift 10 tons - six large missiles with a range of 300 km. There was powerful radar that could scan territory with a range of 300 km. In 1994, the project was halted, and no one said why."

 

Q: "As far as we know, the MiG-31 project has been brought back to life. And there is the MiG-41 project."

A: "Indeed. The defense committee initiated several hearings in the State Duma to resume production of MiG-31 jets. The project is still being discussed."

 

Q: "We know that the Chinese are working on a fifth-generation fighter too."

A: "Yes, they have two fighter jets - they are both single-engine aircraft, but the power of the engines is different. Judging from press reports, China is testing its fifth-generation aircraft."

 

Q: "What can you say about the Chinese fifth-generation fighter, specifically?"

A: "What can I say? China is the workshop of the world. They have everything - all the equipment and all the technology. After all, all electronic devices are made in China."

 

Q: "It was reported that China is working on its own fifth-generation fighter jet while negotiating a contract for the purchase of Su-35s from Russia."

A: "If we are to deliver these planes to China, one can only rejoice. However, when they buy a fighter jet, they also acquire the technology. They already have the Su-27 technology and they have built many of its analogues. In China, there is only one party that realizes the political will of the government. They do not discuss the direction in which they should go - they just go."

 

Endnotes:

[2] Tass.ru, March 2, 2016.

[3] Pravdareport.com, April 11, 2016.