Now Only Six

The first batch of production-standard Sukhoi T-50 fighters for the Russian Air and Space Force (RuASF) will comprise six aircraft for field testing and initial conversion of instructor pilots at the Lipetsk combat training centre according to RuASF Deputy Commander-in-Chief Lt Gen Andrey Yudin.

The number cited represents a departure from the procurement plan announced in July 2016 by Deputy Minister of Defence Yury Borisov, who told reporters the first productionstandard T-50 batch would comprise 12 aircraft to be procured from 2018 onwards.

The original State Armaments Programme, which runs to 2020, forecast as many as 52 T-50s. In early 2015, the number was reduced in lieu of increased orders for multi-role fighters such as the Su-30SM and Su- 35S, while the T-50 was set to continue its protracted flight test and evaluation programme with the RuASF’s 929th State Flight Test Centre at Akhtubinsk.