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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Sukhoi Fighter to Fly This Week

Sukhoi will test-fly by the end of January a new “fifth generation” jet fighter that aims to challenge the United States for technical superiority, an aviation industry source said Wednesday.

“Ground testing of the airplane was successful. It’s technologically ready for the first test flights, which will be held in the next two or three days, depending on the weather,” a source in Komsomolsk-on-Amur told Interfax on Wednesday.

The plane, known as the PAK FA, is being tested at an airfield in the far eastern city, the source said.

The warplane is seen as Moscow’s challenge to the U.S.-built Raptor. The F-22 Raptor stealth fighter first flew in 1997. Fifth-generation jets are invisible to radar, have advanced onboard flight and weapons control systems and can cruise at supersonic speeds.

Sukhoi is Russia’s largest exporter of military planes, accounts for a quarter of Russia’s annual arms sales and has a portfolio of foreign orders worth billions of dollars. India is its biggest client.

A Sukhoi spokesman told Reuters that the plane would fly “in the near future.”

Government and industry officials had said the fighter would make its first flight in 2009.

Analysts have said it could be at least a decade between the first flight of the Russian prototype and the start of commercial production.

(Reuters,MT)