Russian company Sukhoi is developing a light next-generation single-engine stealth fighter jet.
"The Sukhoi company is developing a single-engine light tactical plane with the take-off weight of up to 18 tonnes. The plane’s maximum speed will be above 2 Mach. It will also have super-manoeuvrability and improved take-off and landing performance, thanks to a thrust vector control engine. The plane’s thrust-to-weight ratio will be above 1," an aircraft industry source was quoted as saying by government-owned TASS news agency.
The U.S. inducted its first dedicated stealth air superiority fighter, the F-22, almost two decades ago. It has not only commissioned its first single-engine stealth fighter, the F-35, but has also exported the aircraft to numerous allies.
Meanwhile, the Su-57 twin-engine jet is Russia's only stealth fighter to date. It joined service only in December 2020. Russia is yet to find a customer for the Su-27 jet. Potential buyers of the aircraft are Turkey and Algeria.
An aircraft with thrust-to-weight ratio that is greater than 1 has a thrust greater than its weight, which means it can continue accelerating while climbing vertically. A high thrust-to-weight ratio confers significant advantages in aerial combat and also helps in evading surface-launched anti-aircraft missiles.
Russia's Sputnik reported the company had started work on the lightweight stealth jet "on its own initiative". "During the creation of the aircraft, it is planned to widely use the groundwork developed in the framework of the creation of the Su-57, including the state-of-the-art Product 30 engine, radio-absorbing coatings, on-board radio-electronic equipment, a weapon system," Sputnik quoted a source as saying.
In December 2020, Rostec, the holding company of most of Russia’s Aerospace enterprises, claimed work had started on a new single-engine lightweight "combat aviation system" in both manned and unmanned versions. It is reportedly being developed primarily for the purpose for exports, although Russia's military could also purchase it.
"Indeed, the creation of a combat aviation system of the future in the light and middle class is being worked out. According to the plan, it can be a universal platform, in manned and unmanned versions. The concept and tactical and technical requirements for such a complex are being worked out," Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec Corporation, said.
In March this year, Rostec said it will unveil a new aircraft in July during a MAKS-2021 air show.
Russia is also developing another new aircraft, dubbed MiG-XX. The new tactical aviation platform could complement Russia’s Su-57 stealth jet. Russian industry sources had told Defenseword.net during the MAKS-2019 event that development of a light fighter was on the table. This aircraft will borrow certain characteristics of the Su-57 such as an internal weapons bay, lightweight materials and stealth characteristics. Its engine would be more powerful than seen on the MiG-35.