MOSCOW, December 11 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will soon start developing a prototype of an advanced lightweight fighter jet to supplement fifth-generation T-50 aircraft, a top government official said Wednesday.
The new aircraft is expected to be cheaper to produce and easier to maintain, but should also possess combat capabilities and performance characteristics comparable with those of heavy-class aircraft.
“The development of a light-class fighter has been included in the current arms procurement program. It will be created,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, addressing the lower house of parliament.
Rogozin, who oversees the defense and space industries, said light-class fighters were in greater demand abroad, compared to more advanced heavy-class aircraft, such as Su-30 or the planned T-50 fighter jets.
Russia is currently developing the heavy-class T-50 multirole fighter aircraft, also known as PAK-FA, which will be the core of the country’s future fighter fleet.
The T-50 is expected to enter service with the Russian air force in 2016.
Rogozin, who first voiced the idea of developing a second type of a fifth-generation fighter in February 2012, said Wednesday that Russia has always had at least two types of tactical fighters that in general supplemented one another.
The latest example is a MiG-29/Su-27 pair.
Rogozin did not specify which of Russia’s two main designers of combat jets – MiG or Sukhoi – will be assigned the development of the future light-class fighter.