Russia is developing a sixth-generation aircraft even as it continues developing its fifth-generation designs.
On Tuesday the 2013 MAKS air show opens up in Moscow and Russia is pulling out all the stops for the event.
Ahead of the airshow on Monday, Pyotr Deinekin, a former Russian Air Force chief, said that Russia is actively developing a sixth-generation aircraft, and it will most likely to pilotless.
“The sixth generation of aircraft will most likely be pilotless. Naturally, we are actively working on this,” Deinekin told the Russian newspaper, RIA Novosti in an interview.
He added that Moscow could not skip a generation and would therefore complete all its fifth-generation designs before moving onto the 6th generation fighters.
RIA Novosti noted that the former Air Force chief did not specify which of Russia’s defense companies was involved in the project. It did speculate that MiG and Sukhoi might collaborate on the project citing comments made by Russian defense and corporate officials in the past, and MiG’s work on the Skat design.
Shortly after taking over as MiG general director back in 2011, Sergey Korotkov told reporters that his company would collaborate with Sukhoi on a future unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that was implied to be a sixth-generation aircraft.
Deinekin’s comments on the sixth-generation aircraft are only the beginning of what is likely to be an action-packed week for Russian aircraft.
The MAKS air show is set to run from Tuesday through September 1st. RIA Novosti bills it as “Russia's leading aerospace exhibition.”
Two of the leading exhibits on display this week will be Russia’s fifth-generation Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA and 4++ generation Sukhoi Su-35S multirole fighter jets.
According to United Press International, “The Sukhoi Su-35S is a Russian heavy class, long-range, multi-role one-seat fighter, developed from the original Su-27 air superiority fighter. The Russian air force has taken delivery of 48 Su-35s.” This latter point has been questioned by some. The aircraft also has an operational range of 3,600 km (1,940 nautical miles) at high altitude. Sukhoi has referred to it as a 4++ generation fighter.
The Su-35 was put on a show at the Paris air show back in June.
Unlike the Su-35, the Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA is most certainly a fifth-generation aircraft. It was first flight tested back in 2010, while its first long-range flight test was earlier this year, according to Aviation Week, which has a very in-depth look at the jet. Russian officials have said standard production of the T-50 jets will begin in 2016.