This is the T-50, making its first flight in eastern Russia this week. It changes everything in air defence and strategy.
The defence establishments of the west, including the obsequious branch office of the JSF strike fighter project that comprises defence planning and procurement in Australia, have been warned about this development for a long time, and ignored it.
They have endangered the very survival of this country by pursuing policies that will underscore the loss of air superiority that is already in train on a potent scale to our north.
And they will continue to churn out absurdities about our preparedness and superiority in military technology, especially in the air, until Washington DC tells them an abrupt change of reality is the imperative, and that everything they said before is ‘no longer applicable’, as it hasn’t been for quite some time.
The timing of the Moscow press conference which released the details and video shown in the above YouTube falls between President Obama’s first state of the union address and next Monday’s release of the US defence budget. Its use as a weapon of political influence has begun, not just for Russia, but India, which plans on acquiring 200 T-50s.
Russia’s revenge for the Ronald Reagan Star Wars hoax? Not really. The T-50 is real. Star Wars panicked the fossilised power structure and economics of the Soviet Union and helped speed its inevitable collapse. But it wasn’t going to work as advertised either. The T-50 looks seriously workable, to a budget and timetable that will see it operational between 2015-2017, years before the JSF, if pursued, has a ghost of a chance of being deliverable in anything remotely resembling the spun time lines that Australia fell for when it announced a $3.2 billion order for 14 of the F-35s for ‘initial training and testing’ from 2014.
Just how disconnected from reality was a decision that will have us spending a fortune on initial production F-35s at the same time as the bullshit free development program in Russia is putting its answer into operational service?
Australia’s involvement in the JSF project is that of endorsing an early 1990s solution to our air power needs that has struggled to make meaningful progress toward readiness by the latter half of this century’s second decade.
The basic numbers seem to have the T-50 capable of mach 2.5, a sustained lean fuel cruise at mach 1.9, a refuelling endurance of three or more hours and a payload of 7 tonnes of ordinance. It is a stealth design, with minimal radar visibility.
Wing commander (retired) RAAF Chris Mills, who has strongly criticised the JSF and the public administration failures that lead to its selection on the Air Power Australia web site says:
If the US intelligence agencies aircraft assessments of the PAK-FA were worth a penny, they would have been screaming for the build of additional F-22As, funded by F-35 cancellations, the development of the FB-22B with the missing IRST sensors and an ability to fly penetrating fighter-strike-recon missions over contested airspace, and a follow-on program to get the F-22 for the USMC and the F-22M for the USN.
So, now the spectre for the projection of US air and sea power is the PAK-FA flying sweep to knock down any pesky Hornets and lumbering F-35s, followed by Su-35S with either a centreline KH-41 Sunburn or a brace of Novator 3M-54AE Sizzlers, with a predictable result.
As predicted by APA, the military world as we know it has passed though a gate, and will never be the same.