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Indo-Russian fifth-generation fighter by 2009-end

January 22, 2009 04:13 IST

Russia has said the maiden flight of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), being developed by its Sukhoi design bureau in tie-up with Indian aerospace and defence major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), will be made by the end of the year.

"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 on Wednesday.

Earlier the maiden flight of the new air superiority stealth multi-role fighter featuring high manoeuvrability and precision in destroying land and sea targets was expected in 2010.

Ivanov, a close Putin ally and former Defence Minister, made this announcement in the South Volga region of Astrakhan, where he is on a visit to supervise the construction of facilities for the trials of the next generation fighter.

Under the bilateral agreement signed in October 2007, FGFA is being developed by Sukhoi, which is now part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), along with India's HAL.

India and Russia will simultaneously develop a two-seater version of the war-bird to meet the requirements of India's air superiority doctrine, and a single-seater version for the Russian Air Force.

HAL is expected to produce the Indian version at its facilities, while Russian version will be built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant in Russia's Far East.

Ivanov said the plant had almost completed the construction of a first prototype of the fifth-generation fighter, but it will undergo only durability tests in the wind tunnel at a research facility in Zhukovsky near Moscow.

However, a second prototype will be built and will take to the skies by the end of this year, he said.

Russia is planning to induct the new fighters in 2015, probably at the same time with the Indian Air Force.
Vinay Shukla in Moscow
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