Su-57 (PAKFA, T-50) Multiple role stealth fighter  © Sukhoi Company (JSC)

Photo © Sukhoi Company (JSC) /

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PAKFA - (Advanced Frontline Aviation Complex)

A fifth generation aircraft in service right now, is only available to the Americans (F-22 Raptor), while the Russians still develop their own.

The official Airforce code name of the project is "Advanced Frontline Aviation Complex", while the developing company, Sukhoi, prefers to call it "T-50". It's a "heavy duty" aircraft.

After many years of delay, and overcoming quite a few technical problems, the first Russian 5th generation aircraft took to the air, on January the 29th of 2010, for the first time, with test pilot Sergei Bogdan in the cockpit.

It fulfilled a 45 minute testing flight at the Komsomolsk-na-Amour air base, at the Russian Far East.

As usual the purpose of the first flight, was to raw test the major flight systems and in general the ability of the machine to comply with the main objectives of the design. The flight was described as successful, in a laconic announcement from the developing firm.


Maiden flight PAKFA, 29 January 2010 © KNAAPO

Maiden flight PAKFA, 29 January 2010 © KNAAPO

Developing chronicle of the PAK FA program: 

1998 The HQ of the Russian Armed Air Forces shows interest for the development of a stealth 5th generation aircraft  LFI/LFS  (today PAK FA)
1999 Sukhoi officially takes on to develop a 5th generation aircraft, naming the project Τ-50
2000 The project changes code name and is now baptized “Intermediate Front Line Fighter', which is actually PAK FA
2001 VVS (Russian Air Force) defines the technical specifications for the PAK FA program
2002 Sukhoi wins the competition for the development of PAK FA
2003 Presentation of the PAK FA early designs to the VVS
2004 Sukhoi seeks a partner in developing the aircraft and comes to terms with the Indian Air Force
2005 Sukhoi continues development of PAK FA, while its engine AL-41F (izd.117A, izd.117S), is also being developed
2006 Tests in TsAGI aerodynamic tunnel are concluded
2007 Construction of the first PAK FA prototype commences
2008 High rank officials announce that during the PAK FA program development, there are two versions being designed, one heavy duty craft by Sukhoi and one lighter version by MiG
2008 The ΝΑPΟ aircraft manufacturing plant refuses to construct the PAK FA, reporting that it is already overloaded with other aircrafts construction
12.02.2009 "PAK FA will, within the year start test flights, while a naval two-seat version is being developed" according to M. Pogosian comments
01.06.2009 First Τ-50 for static tests is delivered
04.12.2009 PAK FA fuselage construction is completed
24.12.2009 Runway tests at the Komsomolsk-na-Amure air base
04.01.2010 The static tests aircraft is dyed dark gray, while the Τ-50(1) remains unpainted
22.01.2010 The Τ-50 makes high speed runway tests with a slight elevation of the front wheel and the use of break parachute
29.01.2010 Maiden flight of the T-50 (PAK FA) is performed


General Description © Konstantinos Panitsidis


Sukhoi's new aircraft project code name is Τ-50, while according to the Russian Air Force, the aircraft will be called Ι-21 and the "construction" code will be "Izdelie 701". 

The first designs of the twin engine fighter present a concept with constructive stealth considerations, mainly due to internal positioning of its weapon payload. Besides that though, the Τ-50 will be capable of conducting air superiority missions, thanks to its great maneuverability. It will also take on missions against ground and naval targets, with super-cruising capabilities.

Furthermore, it's capable of operating from semi-prepared short runways, something attested by its main landing wheels diameter. The new Russian aircraft is expected to be equipped with the latest electronic and radio-navigational systems that have already been tested on previous projects, like the MFI, the MiG 1.44 and the Su-47. 

It is estimated that it will carry a number of AESA radars on the front part. Finally it will later be equipped with more powerful engines, with RAM materials, a fully digital cockpit (e-cockpit), infrared reconnaissance systems. The structure is made up to 25% from composites.


Κ-36D-5 Ejection Seat © Konstantinos Panitsidis

Κ-36D-5 Ejection Seat © Konstantinos Panitsidis


Concluding from the first designs and photographs that have becoma available up to now, the front part of the aircraft has a rhombus-like shape, analog to the American F-22 «Raptor», while striking to the eye is the absence of frontal canards, a feature common to many Sukhoi projects for many years now. 

Instead, there are movable LERX surfaces, in front of the wings, thus minimizing the electromagnetic signature of the structure and at the same time increasing the maneuverability of the aircraft, even in supersonic speeds. 

At the rear, there are two small fully movable, almost vertical (about 25o), tails. This configuration of the tail section also contributes in decreasing the electromagnetic signature, while it can also serve as an air-brake (which can be justified by the absence of an air-break at the top of the fuselage). 

The cockpit windshield of the aircraft is reinforced with a metallic frame, which most likely decreases backwards visibility for the pilot (the cockpit windshield will probably be redesigned, but this another sign that the plane will carry out frontline bombing missions as well, hence the name PAKFA - Advanced Frontline Aviation Complex».


Power plant 

Su-27 LL Flanker © Konstantinos Panitsidis.Su-27 LL Flanker © Konstantinos Panitsidis.Su-27 LL Flanker © Konstantinos Panitsidis.

Su-27 LL Flanker © Konstantinos Panitsidis


The prototype is equipped with two 'Izdelie 117" jet engines, by Saturn (an improvement of the AL-31F Μ1 engine). This version was first presented in MAKS-2007, being tested on a specially modified Su-27LL Flanker.


Electronic equipment 

Radar IRBIS-T, modified under PAK FA (Ν050 AESA), band «Χ» MAKS-2007 © Konstantinos PanitsidisRadar IRBIS-T, modified under PAK FA (Ν050 AESA), band «Χ» MAKS-2007 © Konstantinos Panitsidis

Radar IRBIS-T, modified under PAK FA (Ν050 AESA), band «Χ» MAKS-2007 © Konstantinos Panitsidis


AESA radar in slat «L» band © Konstantinos PanitsidisAESA, fragment «X» band , MAKS-2007 © Konstantinos Panitsidis 

AESA radar in slat «L» band  / AESA, fragment «X» band , MAKS-2007 © Konstantinos Panitsidis


Optical detection pod for thw PAK FA (OLS), MAKS-2007 © Konstantinos Panitsidis

Optical detection pod for thw PAK FA (OLS), MAKS-2007 © Konstantinos Panitsidis


Area coverage antennas © Konstantinos Panitsidis


Interconnection and information display are provided to the pilot through two 15-inch multiple display LCD monitors, by "ΟΚΒ Elektroavtomatika" and a holographic HUD on the cockpit windshield. The Τ-50 has a fully digitized cockpit (e-cockpit).


The standard weapon of the aircraft will most likely be a 30 mm gun, (GSh-301) on the right side of the fuselage. The gun's firing rate is about 1500 cartridges per minute and has a 150 cartridge stock. 

The main weapon of course, will be the air-to-air missiles "Izdelie 810". This missile is an improvement of the R-37 from Vympel and in theory at least, can destroy a target more than 420 klm away. It can also carry the improved medium range missile "Izdelie 180", which is an evolution of the R-77 missile. This missile has an infrared guidance sensor (IIR), while the orthogonal winglets will probably be replaced with conventional ones. 

The maximum range is estimated about 150-240 klm and will be implemented within 2010. A new "all aspect" medium range version of the Κ-MD (Izdelie 300), is reported to be under development. It will be used mainly for dog fights and close range combat, and is thought to exceed in performance and technical characteristics the ASRAAM and Sidewinder-9X missiles.


ll the weapons are carried internally, in the fuselage, in two spacious weapon compartments with dimensions of 5,1m x 1,3 m. It can also carry two more missiles in special containers, of 4,1 m length, which are located at the root of the wings. It will most likely be able to carry future missiles and other weaponry. PAK FA (T-50) © Konstantinos Panitsidis

ll the weapons are carried internally, in the fuselage, in two spacious weapon compartments with dimensions of 5,1m x 1,3 m. It can also carry two more missiles in special containers, of 4,1 m length, which are located at the root of the wings. It will most likely be able to carry future missiles and other weaponry. PAK FA (T-50).


Air-to-Air missiles

R-73 (E) © Konstantinos PanitsidisRVV-MD © Konstantinos Panitsidis

R-73 (E) / RVV-MD © Konstantinos Panitsidis

The missile is designed to defeat air target (fighters, bombers, attack aircraft, airplane of military transport aviation) in a highly maneuverable close air combat round-the clock, from various aspects, against earth background and active enemy.


RVV-AE © Konstantinos PanitsidisRVV-SD © Konstantinos Panitsidis

RVV-AE / RVV-SD © Konstantinos Panitsidis


Tactical anti-ship missile

Kh-31AD © Konstantinos PanitsidisKh-35UE © Konstantinos Panitsidis

Kh-31AD / Kh-35UE © Konstantinos Panitsidis

Designed to destroy surface war-ship with a displacement of up to 5.000 t. 



KAB-500-OD © Konstantinos PanitsidisKAB-500-OD © Konstantinos PanitsidisKAB-1500Kr © Konstantinos Panitsidis 
KAB-500-OD / KAB-500-OD / KAB-1500Kr © Konstantinos Panitsidis

KAB-500-OD: KAB-500S-E (KAB-500 Kr (OD))
This bomb is designed to engage ground targets such as manpower and fire emplacement defiladed in mountainous terrain.

KAB-1500Kr / KAB-1500 LG-F (OD, PR)-E:  ΚKAB-1500 Kr is designed to engage stationary ground and sea surface pinpoint targets such as concrete shelters, railway and road bridges, military units, ammunition depots, railway terminals, warships and transport vessels.


PAK FA Potential weapons configurations.


Kh-38ME © Konstantinos PanitsidisKh-58UShKE © Konstantinos PanitsidisKh-59MK  (MK2 - Missile of increased range)  © Konstantinos Panitsidis

Kh-38ME / Kh-58UShKE / Kh-59MK (MK2 - Missile of increased range) © Konstantinos Panitsidis


Kh-38ME: Family of Air-Launched Short-Range Modular Missiles X-38MLE, X-38MAE, X-38MTE and X-38 MKE. Air-launched modular missiles of the Kh-38ME family are intended for hitting armored, hardened, vulnerable ground targets and groups of targets as well as surface targets in littoral areas. 

Kh-58UShKE: Anti-radar missile.  The X-58UShKE missile offers a unique combination of high accuracy guidance, powerful payload and small size, providing its arrangement in enlarged aircraft ammunition on external suspension points under advanced multi-purpose aircraft and inboard. The X-58UShKE missile is used to hit programmed radar targets, as well as radar targets, being expeditiously detected by the aircraft carrier target designation system

Kh-59MK (MK2): Improved-range missile.  Carrier aircraft launched, designed to kill sea surface radio-contrast targets with RCS > 300m2 (ranging from boat to cruiser) day and night in simple and adverse weather in the high seas or near the coastline.

The first test squadrons are programmed to receive the first pre-production aircrafts in 2013 (two squadrons), with the regular deliveries to begin in 2015.  



Su-57 (PAKFA, T-50) © Konstantinos Panitsidis



OKB Sukhoi
Multipurpose fighter, stealth
Two bypass engine izdelie 117
Thrust, kgf
2 x 14.500 (15.500)
Length, m
Height, m
Wing span, m
Wing area, m2
Maximum take-off, kg
Normal take-off, kg
Empty aircraft, kg
Internal fuel, kg
Maximum speed, km/h
Max speed in low height, km/h
Range, km
Service ceiling, m
Maximum overload, g
RCS, m2 0,005 up 0.3
ARMAMENT Warload-1.840/2.600 kg. Max -10.000 kg. One 30 mm cannon GSh-301 with 150 rounds.
All weapons are carried internally in two arsenal compartments, in the fuselage. It carries two more missiles in two compartments located at the roots of the wings.


PHOTOS Su-57 (PAKFA, T-50)