Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Flying Nicetryski

Much is being made of the so-called Russian F-22ski:

In an open-source assessment of Russia's Sukhoi PAK-FA, aka the Raptor Killer, Air Power Australia concludes, "once the PAK-FA is deployed within a theatre of operations, especially if it is supported robustly by counter-VLO capable ISR systems, the United States will no longer have the capability to rapidly impose air superiority, or possibly even achieve air superiority."

I'd have been more comfortable with having enough F-22s to maintain two full squadrons for the next 30 years or so (requiring enough spares for accidents and some combat losses over that period), but let's not make too much of the Russian plane. So far, it is a Potemkin plane:

Russia's effort to develop an F-22 class fighter (the PAK FA) is going to require a lot of work. The prototype, that took its first flight recently, was clearly the basic Su-27 airframe modified to be stealthier. This included changing the shape of the aircraft to be less radar reflective, and providing internal bays for bombs and missiles. But there's much more to do in order to achieve anything close to the stealthiness of the F-22.

Russia may convince some buyers that they'll get something good enough to smash our Raptors, but reality is not likely to be as kind as the flashy brochure portrays the plane.