Analyst: Russian MiG-29 and Su-27 Top American F-35

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Can Soviet-era fighter jets like the one above, the twin-engine MiG-29 Fulcrum, or the bigger one below, the Su-27 Flanker, outperform the newest American design, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter?

Yes, according to Bill French, a policy analyst with the National Security Network, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank favors progressive defense policies. He’s the author of a report released Tuesday by the organization. It’s titled, “Thunder without Lightning: The High Costs and Limited Benefits of the F-35 Program,” a pun on the jet’s official name, Lightning II. Continue reading

Russia Is Set to Triple Nuclear Supersonic Bomber Force

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As The National Interest previously reported, last month Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia would resume production of the Tu-160 strategic bomber, a Soviet-era aircraft that is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons.

On Thursday, Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, the commander-in-chief of Russia’s Air Force, revealed that Moscow will purchase at least fifty of the Tu-160 strategic bombers once production resumes.

“No less than 50 aircraft over time will be purchased in order to cover the costs that will go into production,” Bondarev said, according to Russian state media outlets.

This will dramatically increase Russia’s bomber capabilities as only fifteen Tu-160s currently remain in service (about 35 were originally built, according to Russian media outlets). That is at least a 333 percent increase in the number of Tu-160s in Russia’s arsenal. Continue reading

Get Ready, America: Russia Wants a New Stealthy, Long-Range Bomber

There is little concrete information about the new Russian bomber—but a stealthy long-range penetrating strike aircraft is not cheap. The Pentagon’s secretive new Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program is aiming to develop an aircraft that will cost roughly $550 million per jet. Developmental costs for the American aircraft—which will supposedly rely on “mature” technologies–are likely to be in $50 billion range. While the Russia PAK-DA is not likely to be nearly as expensive, it is going to cost tens of billions of dollars at a time when Russia’s resource-based economy is collapsing into what could be a prolonged recession. Unlike the Soviet Union—which had a more or less full-service, if dysfunctional, economy—modern Russia is little more than a glorified petro-state. There are very real questions as to whether Russia can afford to complete the development of the PAK-DA.

Nonetheless, Russia’s Tupolev design bureau appears to be moving full steam ahead with the development of the new aircraft. Mikhail Pogosyan, head of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)—a state enterprise that includes Tupolev—told RIA Novosti, a state-run Russian new agency (now known internationally as Sputnik International), earlier in the year that development of the PAK-DA had started in earnest in 2014. Pogosyan said that preliminary design work for the new aircraft was completed in April 2014 and some components are already being fabricated. Continue reading

The Russian Air Force’s Super Weapon: Beware the PAK-FA Stealth Fighter

 

The Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA stealth fighter could prove to be a formidable competitor to American fifth-generation combat aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Indeed, in some measures, the new Russian warplane will exceed both U.S.-built jets, but the PAK-FA is not without its flaws.

“The analysis that I have seen on the PAK-FA indicates a pretty sophisticated design that is at least equal to, and some have said even superior to U.S. fifth-generation aircraft,” former U.S. Air Force intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula told the National Interest. “It certainly has greater agility with its combination of thrust vectoring, all moving tail surfaces, and excellent aerodynamic design, than does the F-35.”

Indeed, the PAK-FA appears to be optimized for the air-superiority role like the F-22 more so than the multirole, strike-optimized F-35. Like the Raptor, the PAK-FA is being designed to fly high and fast to impart the maximum amount of launch energy to its arsenal of long-range air-to-air missiles—which would greatly increase the range of those missiles. Continue reading