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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sukhoi Says New Fighter Will Fly in ’09

MTPogosyan expects Sukhoi’s Superjet to garner as much as 20 percent of the regional jet market within 10 years.

ZHUKOVSKY, Moscow Region — The country’s first fifth-generation fighter jet will make its maiden flight by year-end, the aircraft’s designer said, as Moscow seeks to catch up with Washington in a military aviation dogfight.

Sukhoi’s new fighter will take off this year, Sukhoi chief Mikhail Pogosyan said. “We will spare no effort for this to happen this year, and I believe we have every reason to say this work is proceeding according to plan.”

Pogosyan also predicted that Sukhoi would take up to 20 percent of the world’s regional jet market with Russia’s first passenger airliner in almost two decades, the Superjet 100.

“We expect that, in our segment of regional passenger airliners, we’ll take a 15-20 percent share of the global market. We think it will take us five to 10 years to achieve this,” he said.

He said he was hopeful that Sukhoi’s fifth-generation fighter would not face any last-minute hitches.

“There are always ‘nuances’ in the creation of military equipment that are impossible to predict,” he said. “But I am hopeful we will be able to avoid such nuances.”

Fifth-generation jets, such as the U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, which first flew in 1997, are invisible to radar and boast “intelligent” onboard flight and arms control systems and supersonic cruising speeds.

Asked whether the Russian fighter could challenge the Raptor, Pogosyan said he had no reason to doubt it.

Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies think tank, said that even with delays, the Russian plane would likely make its first flight by January or February.

“But this doesn’t matter much,” he said. “There could be at least 10 years between the first flight of the fifth-generation prototype and commercial production.”

Sukhoi’s jets account for about half of Russia’s military aviation exports and a quarter of its annual arms sales, with India being the company’s largest client, CAST estimates.

Sukhoi has more than $4 billion worth of deals with India to supply some 130 fighter jets by 2014, CAST said.

The company is also spearheading Russian efforts to break into the global market for passenger aircraft with its Superjet.

Designed to replace aging Tu-134 and Yak-42 planes, the Superjet is a joint creation by the state’s United Aviation Corporation and U.S. plane maker Boeing.

The Superjet was developed with Italy’s Finmeccanica and can carry from 75 to 95 passengers.

The aircraft made its maiden flight, initially planned for 2007, in May 2008 and its first public flight in June this year. It is still undergoing tests.

In international markets, the Superjet will compete with Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier, which currently dominate the sector.

“We greatly respect all the hard work they’ve done, but we do think that the technological, engineering and scientific potential of the Russian aircraft-making industry allows us to achieve everything I’ve told you, even with such strong competitors,” Pogosyan said.