Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Russia moving superpower airforce into right direction

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration, under the suggestion of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, canceled the further production of the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor. The world’s first 5th Generation air superiority fighter was seen as unnecessary since it had no rivals. Well, think again! Russia test flew their new Sukhoi T-50 jet fighter. The plane has many similar features as that of the F-22, including stealth, sustained supersonic flight and a high degree of maneuverability due to movable, ‘gimballed’ exhaust nozzles.

Side by side, one can see many similar features in the airframes of these two jet fighters. This reinforces the potential that the new Sukhoi T-50 Russian jet may be a formidable opponent to the F-22. The T-50 is a joint project between Russia, India and Israel. Like the F-22, the T-50 will carry a wide range of current and advanced, future weapon systems inside internal bays, adding to the plane’s stealthiness. The cockpit features advanced avionics, much like the F-22 and F-35 Lighting II, consisting mostly of computer touch-screens as opposed to analog dials and instruments.

Like the F-22, the T-50 will be able to travel at sustained speeds of Mach 2+, but will have double the range of the American version. The new jet fighter is expected to enter service with the Russian Air Force first within the next two to three years. Russia plans on building 150 to 200 for their own national defense. India is committed to buying 200 and will begin to take delivery by 2015. How many Israel will buy remains unknown. However, Russia is already preparing to market the T-50 for worldwide sales by 2017. At a cost of $100 Million dollars each, the plane will be significantly less expensive than the American F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, also intended for international sales. Russia believes the Sukhoi T-50 will capture at least one-third of the world’s jet fighter market. China’s version of a 5th Generation stealth fighter is still several years away.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

T-50 fighter jet makes another test flight

Russia’s fifth generation fighter jet T-50, also known as the Russian stealth fighter, has made another test flight at the aircraft industry centre in the city of Zhukovsky outside Moscow. It is also known as the Russian stealth.

Sukhoi T-50 is a monoplane with far apart engines and two fins which are strongly deviated from the axial axis. The Russian fighter jet is up to par with and even surpasses the American jets of the same class, such as F-22 Raptor and F-35, especially in manoeuverability, says the former head of the air force, General Anatoly Kornukov.

“The T-50 is capable of making manoeuvers at any engine regime,” says Anatoly Kornukov. “In fact, not all jets can do so. There is a concept known as the acceptable minimum speed, which is the lowest for this jet. For one, Sukhoi-27 can fly at the speed of a car, which is something that Americans have yet to achieve. They cannot keep the plane flying at large attack angles without draft. The Russian plane can do this. This is good for dodging and manoeuvering. The jet is unlike to wage a close fight, and this will do so at medium or long ranges. Firstly, a long-range missile will be launched and then a short-range one will be fired. When all missiles have been launched, the cannon will be used. In this case, the most manoeuverable plane can attack from the back,” Anatoly Kornukov said.

In fact, super- maneouverability is one of the key tasks set by the American Defence Department before the designers.

The T-50 fighter jet can hardly be detected by radars, and it is also impossible to locate by its heat emissions. This has been achieved by using composite materials and special coating, and a special design of the plane and measures aimed at lowering the jet’s visibility at various frequencies. When T-50 made its maiden flight in January, foreign military experts said that the U.S. monopoly on stealth was over. According to experts, American F-35 has problems competing with Russia’s Su-35 whose radius of radar reflection is the size of a tennis ball. Most likely, T-50 has a much smaller area than this.

T-50 fighter jet will complete its test programme by 2015, says the head of the Sukhoi Company, Mikhail Pogosyan. “I believe that experience gained by the company in developing the Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets will be a good basis for promoting the programme successfully,” Mikhail Pogosyan said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in Zhukovsky to watch the T-50 test flight. Talking with the test-pilot Sergei Bogdan, he said that the fifth generation fighter jet will be 2.5 to 3 times cheaper than its foreign analogues. The new Russian jets will determine the potential of the country’s air force in the next decades.

Putin boasts new stealth jet fighter better than any U.S. plane

Putin watched a test flight of a "fifth-generation" stealth fighter, dubbed the T-50 and billed as Russia's first all-new warplane since the the Soviet Union in 1991 as Russia's stance for superpower status in the 21st century.

"This machine will be superior to our main competitor, the F-22, in terms of maneuverability, weaponry and range," Putin told the pilot after the flight, according to an account on the government website.

Putin said the plane would cost up to three times less than similar aircraft in the West and could remain in service for 30 to 35 years with upgrades, according to the report.

Successful development of the fighter, built by Sukhoi, is crucial to showing Russia can challenge U.S. technology and modernize its military after a period of post-Soviet decay.

Russia also plans to manufacture T-50s jointly with India.

The F-22 raptor stealth fighter first flew in 1997 and is the only fifth-generation fighter in service. Fifth-generation aircraft have advanced flight and weapons control systems and can cruise at supersonic speeds.

According to the government website, the test pilot told Putin the controls of the T-50 allowed the pilot to operate most of the plane's systems without taking his hands off the joystick, which he said would be very useful under high forces of gravity.

"I know, I've flown," Putin replied. Sukhoi has said the plane should be ready for use in 2015.

by Steve Gutterman

Friday, June 4, 2010

An Insecure Foothold for the United States as Russia becomes a stronger superpower

The United States is currently involved in two very expensive wars in the Middle East. Can it afford to engage with Russia over the territory around Georgia, if the matter came down to it? Martin Sieff argues that President Obama should take a lesson from history and re-evaluate his Georgia policy.

It is always bad news for a major continental nation or global superpower to tie its fate too closely to a small, unstable and potentially dangerously irresponsible client state. That is a mistake that U.S. President Barack Obama, like his predecessor George W. Bush, is still making toward the republic of Georgia in the Caucasus.

History repeatedly shows us that major wars and the consequent destruction all too often start because confident global superpowers rush to the defense of tiny client states.

Georgia, while chaotic, is certainly a strategic prize because of its location. It offers U.S. policymakers at least the illusion of a secure foothold in the heart of the Caucasus on the eastern side of the Black Sea. It also offers the territory for oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Basin and from neighboring Azerbaijan that do not have to pass through Russian territory.

Now that the new government of Ukraine under President Viktor Yanukovych is energetically repairing its traditionally close ties to Moscow — and to oil- and gas-rich Kazakhstan — Georgia has become more attractive to U.S. policymakers. For it offers the prospect of keeping the southern route to the Caspian Basin open even when the northern route is coming back into the Russian sphere of influence.

However, these geopolitical considerations and rhetoric about supporting Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as a democratically elected and pro-American leader come up against two harsh realities.

The first is that Georgia has been not just within the Russian sphere of influence but was an integral part of the Russian state for nearly 190 years. U.S. support for Georgia is therefore guaranteed to enrage ordinary Russians as well as policymakers, as much as Russian support for a nation traditionally in the American sphere of influence, like Venezuela, can enrage Americans.

If President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela were to try to bring his nation into the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization or the Russian- and Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, any president in Washington, whether Democrat or Republican, would be outraged.

But the risks of superpower conflict — and in strategic nuclear and military terms, Russia is certainly still a superpower comparable to the United States and will continue to remain on the world stage and over Georgia are much graver. For President Saakashvili has repeatedly shown during his years in power that he is a loose cannon. And U.S. policymakers cannot be confident that they can keep him on a sufficiently tight leash.

Georgia offers U.S. policymakers at least the illusion of a secure foothold in the heart of the Caucasus on the eastern side of the Black Sea.

History repeatedly shows us that major wars and the consequent destruction all too often start because confident global superpowers rush to the defense of tiny client states that they did not have to defend. Great Britain did not have to go to war with Imperial Germany in 1914. It did so because the German Army’s plan of attack against France committed it to sweep through Belgium.

Even then, the British Liberal government of the time could have sat back and left Belgium to German occupation. The Germans of 1914-18, however formidable they were militarily, were certainly no Nazis. But traditional British concepts of geopolitics and outmoded rhetoric about “honor” and “glory” led the half dozen or so top decision-makers, including Winston Churchill, to commit themselves to war.

It was among the worst policy decisions in British history. It led directly to the death of more than one million British and British Empire young men in World War I. One in three of all British males between the ages of 18 and 45 died in that war or suffered premature deaths decades before their time because of the injuries they received in it.

And the British Empire rapidly dissolved over the next generation precisely because the will to keep it had been drowned in the bloodbath.

Tsarist Russia made the same catastrophic mistake as the British did. Russia did not have to commit itself to defend Serbia in 1914, just as Imperial Germany did not have to give its far weaker ally, Austria-Hungary, the infamous “blank check” to destroy the Serbian state.

Georgia, while chaotic, is certainly a strategic prize because of its location.

If President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton want to avoid an equally dangerous confrontation with Russia in the future — in order to defend a small, marginal ally over whose government they have little, if any, influence — they should study the terrible lessons of 1914 and learn from them.