The appearance of a fifth generation fighter in Russian naval aviation will not happen before 2020, the outgoing head of the air forces and air defense forces of the Russian Navy, Lt. General Valery Uvarov told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
Previously, representatives of the armed forces command and Defense Ministry had said a new naval fighter based on the Sukhoi T.50 design could enter service around 2016.
"It's difficult to say when this aircraft will enter naval service. First it will go into service with the air force, and then be 'navalised.' To build a new aircraft from scratch costs huge money, it's irrational and not competent. Conditions might be suitable by 2020," he said.
Uvarov stressed, however, that any new naval fighter would enter service only following a competition in which other designs would participate, including from the MiG, Yakovlev and Sukhoi design bureaus.
A new generation carrier fighter should enter service with the fleet not long before any new aircraft carrier on which it would be based, Uvarov said, so pilots would be ready. "The aircraft should come before a ship entering service, so pilots can train first on land, then on a special training area, then on deck," he said.
He stressed that the service was still waiting to take delivery of the naval MiG-29K, which is being exported to India.
"The first two MiG-29Ks will soon be purchased in order to carry out development of their functions," he said. "I think there should be two squadrons, that is 24 MiG-29Ks and one squadron of Su-33s."
The Russian navy is currently reforming its structure, with naval air forces and naval air defense being merged into one branch. Lt. General Uvarov is leaving his post as commander of both branches.
MOSCOW September 28, (RIA Novosti)