MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is expected to unveil a new fifth-generation Sukhoi stealth fighter jet at an air show near Moscow attended by President Vladimir Putin later on Tuesday.
A brief promotional video posted ahead of the MAKS air show featured pilots from the United Arab Emirates, India, Vietnam and Argentina, suggesting that Moscow wants to launch the plane for export.
Oleg Panteleyev, head of the analysis agency Aviaport, said he would be presented as a rival to the US F-35 stealth fighter.
It’s unclear when the plane might be ready for mass production. He is unlikely to take to the air when presented.
Russia has invested heavily in military aircraft and new weaponry under Putin, both for its own armed forces and also to increase export earnings from arms sales. Many of its new weapons are still based on technology from the Soviet era of the Cold War.
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Rostec, the Russian state aerospace and defense conglomerate, has released photographs of the new aircraft coated with a protective coating as it approaches the air show.
In May, an anonymous defense source quoted by state news agency RIA said Rostec was working on a fifth-generation multirole light fighter jet with a single engine.
The plane was to have a top speed of more than twice the speed of sound, weigh no more than 18 tons, and have reduced radar visibility and great maneuverability, the source said.
Sergei Chemezov, head of Rostec, said last December that the conglomerate was considering producing a light single-jet fighter jet for export.
Russia already has fourth-generation fighter jets – the heavy-class Sukhoi Su-27 and the light-class Mikoyan MiG-29. It has only one heavy-class fifth-generation fighter jet, the Su-57, but no light-class equivalent, Panteleyev said.
“Light class fighter jets are in more demand around the world than heavy class jets – they are cheaper and more suitable for states that do not have large territories,” he told Reuters.
In 2011, Russia used the MAKS air show to unveil the Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter.
United Aircraft Corporation, which is part of Rostec, owns the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer that dates back to the Soviet era.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Alison Williams)
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