The US’ reluctance to include UAE in the F-35 eco-system, may be pushing the gulf nation towards Russia for the co-development of a next-generation fighter aircraft.
Russia and the United Arab Emirates will get down to joint work on a future light 5th generation jet on the basis of MiG-29 as of 2018, Chief of the Rostec corporation, Sergey Chemezov was quoted as saying by Tass late last month.
"We believe we shall start working on this plane as of next year. It will take seven to eight years to develop," Chemezov said on the sidelines of the international weapons show IDEX-2017.
"A future fifth generation plane will be created on the basis of Russia’s Mig-29," he had said.
The memorandum of understanding between Russia and the UAE to jointly develop the fighter aircraft follows a similar fighter jet collaboration deal agreed between Russia and India last year.
UAE currently uses the advanced version of the F-16 fighter jet, and the U.S. military has F-22 Raptors stationed there. But despite the UAE's interest in the American-made F-35, the U.S. has declined to make it available — which forced the Arab nation to approach Russia about its jet, Fox News reported Thursday.
“The aircraft’s development is at the initial stage. The co-development of the fifth-generation light fighter together with the UAE is at the initial stage. At present, we are preparing our proposals for the Emirates. We believe the aircraft will be a success. We are willing to unveil our developments to our colleagues," United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) President Yuri Slyusar told Tass.
UAE has also signed an agreement with Russia to buy a number of Su-35 fighters late February this year.
However, the version of the fifth generation fighter jet being considered for joint development could be an altogether different jet than the PAK-FA meant for the Russian Air Force and its export version, T-50 being considered for co-development with India.
What can be deduced from the Russian officials’ statement is that it could be based on the MiG-29 which means a smaller aircraft than the PAK-FA which is based on the larger Sukhoi-30 lineage.