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Updated 2:00 PM EDT, Wed, May 20, 2020

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Russia Completes First Test of New Jet Engine for PAK FA Stealth Fighter

PAK FA

(Photo : Russian Aerospace Forces) Underpowered T-50 in flight.

Russia's heavily hyped but underpowered and unstealthy Sukhoi PAK FA T-50 fifth generation fighter should finally see service by 2025 after it receives new jet engines that have just completed their first ground tests.

That is, if Putin's cash-strapped Russia can cough-up the money to finance its most expensive aircraft costing over $100 million each.

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The new engine will replace the engine currently powering the 12 prototype T-50s under evaluation: the upgraded Saturn AL-41F1 (izdeliye 117) turbofan.

Engine builder United Engine Corporation (UEC) reported a successful first ground-based ignition of the new demonstrator engine for the T-50 identified as the "second-stage engine." UEC refers to the upgraded AL-41F1 (izdeliye 117) as the "first-stage engine."

The new second-stage engine will be one of the most advanced in the world, according to Russian experts. It allows the T-50 to accelerate to supersonic speed, and maintain that velocity throughout the flight, without using afterburners.  This second-stage engine is also identified as the AL-41F1 (izdeliye 30).

The Izdeliye 30 is expected to come off the production line between 2025 and 2027. That means PAK FA will become woefully underpowered compared to the American stealth fighters until 2025 at the earliest.

The second-stage engine is expected to increase the speed of the PAK FA to Mach 1.6 (1,980 km/h). The engine will also significantly improve the stealth properties of PAK FA because it uses new composite materials. UEC expects to start testing the second-stage engine on the PAK FA in 2018.

The first-stage engine currently mounted on the T-50 an updated version of the engine used in the Sukhoi Su-27, Su-30 and the Su-35.

"Nevertheless, it still falls short of the fifth generation model, and is very noticeable on radar screens," said Pavel Bulat, avionics specialist and head of the Kupol Group of Companies, a research and advisory firm.

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