Eighth T-50 Prototype

The eighth Sukhoi T-50 prototype, dubbed T-50-9, flew for the first time at the KnAAZ plant in Komosmolsk-on-Amur on April 24. On May 12, T-50-9 completed its ferry flight to Sukhoi’s flight-test centre at Zhukovsky-Ramenskoye near Moscow. In the short term, the aircraft is expected to be handed over to the Russian Air and Space Force for use in the joint state test effort. T-50-9 entered ground testing at the KnAAZ plant during latter part of 2016, and is configured with a full mission suite and the capability to employ live weapons. The aircraft carried external fuel tanks during its ferry flight; the first time auxiliary tanks have been seen on a T-50 aircraft.

T-50-9 also has a new pixel-style camouflage applied to make the aircraft more difficult to see at long ranges. According to Yuri Borisov, Russia’s deputy defence minister responsible for procurement, the future state armament programme set to run from 2018 to 2025 will include the first T-50 production order. He also hinted the KnAAZ plant will produce two more T-50 prototypes (T-50- 10 and T-50-11), the last ones expected to join the state flight test effort. The first production-standard T-50s are expected to be handed over to the Russian Air and Space force in 2019.