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PAK FA vs F22 Raptor : A Detailed Analasis

Chanakyaa

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Background: Russia’s economic woes delayed progression of Russia’s 5th Generation fighter aircraft until the late 2000’s, with the first prototype of the next generation PAK-FA fighter flying in 2010.



PAK-FA is the program name and stands for “Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii” (Future aviation complex - frontline aircraft) and the actual aircraft will likely get a regular Su- designation and NATO reporting name. Contrary to many speculations, the T-50 prototype designation does not automatically make it the Su-50 in service. Sukhoi normally reserves even numbered designations for strike aircraft. If I was a betting person I’d wager the in-service designation will be Su-41. The NATO reporting name is also subject to much speculation, with “Firefox” being a popular choice. Firefox was of course the name attributed to the fictional Soviet “MiG-31 Firefox” super-fighter of the 1982 box-office blooper of the same name.



If air combat was won on looks, the sleek Sukhoi PAK-FA would be the undeniable king of the modern battlefield. Aesthetically often compared to the universally popular Northrop YF-23 Black Widow (which lost to the YF-22 to become USAF’s 5th generation stealth fighter), the Sukhoi is both elegant and menacing at the same time. The PAK-FA has been hyped for several years and the recently unveiled the prototype has exceeded expectations in many corners and increased speculative comparisons to F-22 and F-35.

The T-50 has a generally conventional layout with tailplanes, but additionally moving LERX above the engine intakes. The tail fins are unusually small, and all-moving. The engines are mounted far apart, optimizing the impact of the 3D thrust vectoring control, and allowing for two large weapons bays mounted in tandem between them.

Unknowns: At the time of writing, speculation is rampant regarding obvious features such as the size, stealth, weapons and avionics. In some dark corners of the internet this debate extends to the exact manner of main undercarriage stowage, and the manner of hiding the engine turbines from radar waves entering the engine inlets. To my amateur eye, the popular size estimate of 22m in length is somewhat too long; I suspect that overall dimensions are approximately as per F-22.



From certain angles the T-50 looks considerably smaller than the Flanker, although the internal volume is probably closer than it may first appear as T-50 has a more compact layout.




My artist’s impression of an in-service PAK-FA. The only noticeable differences to the T-50 prototype are the lack of external framing in the canopy, and the covering of the T-50’s exposed metal engine shroud to allow RAM paint over this part. The above illustration is generally compatible with Saturn’s artist’s concept.


At this time it seems likely that here are three airframes, one being a static test unit. It is not clear if both of the others are flying, but at least one has received a RuAF style splinter camouflage scheme and non-standard Russian Star emblem on the tail (note that it is not the now-standard and generally unpopular tri-color star of the RuAF).
 
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Chanakyaa

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Comparison: Is PAK FA The Raptor killer?




It has been suggested that for the PAK-FA to be successful it does not need to exceed the F-22, merely come close enough to shift popular perception of the F-22’s unrivaled dominance of the 5th Generation stage. There will always be die-hard proponents of both planes and any definitive analysis is certainly premature. The following observations should be taken within the context of amateur analysis based on scant reliable information. I think it makes little sense to dive into details, any meaningful comparison must remain high-level.



Stealth: There can be no serious doubt that the PAK-FA is a stealth aircraft; stealth shaping is a compromise and the T-50 clearly shows design decisions which make no sense if stealth was not the aim. Frontal aspect stealth is likely very good.


The rear of the engine nacelles has more questionable stealth however and suggests a focus on frontal aspect stealth with rear aspect-stealth clearly being a feature but less-so than F-22. Alternatively the engine nacelles may be remodeled when the production standard engine is introduced (the prototype likely flew with interim Saturn 117S engines to reduce risk). PAK-FA clearly uses shaping to deflect radar waves, and presumably will be painted in a RAM paint. It may also employ ‘Plasma stealth’, particularly within radomes. Although the cockpit canopy is sloped as per the F-22s (ie not ‘bubble’), it is not clear if it is radar reflecting like the F-22’s, and does not have the brown tinge of gold-lined cockpits. Radomes and cockpit canopies are said to be amongst the most difficult parts of an aircraft to make stealthy and it may be that this technology is proving more difficult to develop.
Both aircraft are credited with super-cruise, the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburner, and thus increasing range and reducing heat signatures compared to other fighters at equivalent speeds.


Air-Air Weapons:
Russia has unveiled the RVV-SD missile, an updated version of the AA-12 Adder missile with folding fins, as the main missile of the aircraft. Although the PAK-FA’s weapons bays can likely carry larger missiles, they are probably not large enough for the massive KS-172 (RVV-L) weapon which has an expected range of about 400km.



Reports indicate that this missile, or one with similar performamce, can be carried externally. The ramjet powered version of the AA-12 Adder promoted in the 1990s seems to have been dropped. The RVV-SD is likely a good match for the latest AMRAAM variants, though both may be eclipsed by the ramjet powered long range Meteor missile which will be fielded on ‘Eurocanards’ like the Gripen and Typhoon by the time PAK-FA enters service.

The above comparison with the F-22 shows the larger main weapons bays of the PAK-FA (red). The F-22 can carry 6 AMRAAM missiles in the main bay. Reports indicate that the PAK-FA can carry 8 equivalent AA-12 (RVV-SD) missiles, giving it a 2 missile advantage. The side bays (orange) are of similar capacity with both aircraft carrying just one short-range missile per bay. For the PAK-FA the two smaller weapons bays are probably for the RVV-MD version of the AA-11 Archer short range missile. The RVV-MD is probably capable of rear-firing, a unique feature whereby the missile flips immediately after launch and flies at a target behind the plane. AA-12s with this feature have been tested and are possibly operational within the Flanker community.

The F-22 is currently equipped with relatively outdated AIM-9 variants, and lacking a helmet mounted sight for off-boresight targeting. This is likely to be rectified before the PAK-FA enters full scale service and so F-22 and PAK-FA will likely be closely match in this technology.

Both aircraft are equipped with a single cannon; 20mm Vulcan for the F-22 and probably a Gsh-30-1 (as per the Flanker) for the PAK-FA. Many reports suggest that PAK-FA will have two cannons but this seems unlikely and the T-50 prototype appears to only have one gun port, situated on the starboard forward fuselage.

Air-Ground role:
The F-22 started life as a straightforward air superiority fighter (later rebranded “Air Dominance”) but has been evolved to carry a potent strike capability. Part of the drive towards the multirole capability was the conspicuous absence of a credible “5th Generation” air threat from the Russian side. The F-22 was conceived in the 1980s against the background of the cold war, facing off to a generation of Soviet fighters which never came.

For a while the F-22 looked somewhat spare and a strike capability was added, made possible by US advances in GPS weaponry. The F-22’s internal weapons bays were not large enough for substantial loads so special smaller-diameter bombs have been developed. The F-22’s air-ground weapons load is modest to say the least, but its ability to deliver them to the target seems unrivalled and more than makes up for this deficiency.

The PAK-FA too is reportedly a multi-role design. The internal weapons bays appear larger than on F-22, but are of unconfirmed depth and may not be capable of carrying many of the weapons speculated. Various Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton) family supersonic missiles seem plausible albeit on the large side, as do satellite guided bombs and KAB-500 series bombs. The weapons bays are about 5m long.

A folding fin version of the Kh-58 ‘Kilter’ anti-radiation missile has been shown and this seems a reasonable fit, though may be more relevant to the MiG SKAT UCAV program rather than the PAK-FA.


Avionics:
The PAK-FA has several features of particular interest here. In the nose there is likely to be active electronically scanned array radar (AESA) as per F-22. This may actually have additional mechanical steering, although that would add weight. What’s virtually unique to the PAK-FA however is rear-facing radar in the tail. This too may be AESA and could simply be an additional array for the nose-mounted radar, or possibly a completely separate set.



The PAK-FA therefore has true 360 degree coverage. Additionally the PAK-FA is thought to have L-Band radars mounted in the wing leading edges. These would have both passive and active emitting roles and may be the key to ‘seeing’ stealth aircraft such as the F-22. Alternatively these may be located in the wing LERX sides – the exact location is subject to some speculation.



The F-22’s stealth is generally optimized against X-band radars as that is what fighters generally use – L-Band is a much longer wavelength and can more easily detect stealth aircraft but is also less accurate -hence X-band radars are still used for routine intercept and virtually all fighters use X-Band.

There is serious doubt of Russia’s ability to mass produce key computer components such as micro processors. This may prove a deployment bottleneck, or Western off-the-shelf processors may be used. Russia has proven capability to produce Phased array radars, datalinks etc and may attempt to sidestep technological deficiencies.



Unlike the F-22 the PAK-FA will feature an IRST optical/IR search and tracking system. The decision not to fit an IRST to the F-22 may be reconsidered to rectify this gap. IRST promises to be the best way to target stealth aircraft since regardless of the IR stealth claims made of the F-22, jet engines are fundamentally not conducive to IR invisibility. The trail of hot air behind the F-22 is likely the first thing the PAK-FA may see, perhaps as far as 25km.

Sukhoi’s recent demonstration cockpit mock-ups, which may relate to both Su-35 or PAK-FA, suggest two very large multi-function-displays (MFDs) and a very wide Head-up-display (HUD). The T-50-1’s cockpit clearly has the massive HUD. If this mock-up cockpit is essentially similar to PAK-FA’s, then compared to the F-22 the PAK-FA’s will take advantage of advancing technologies of past decade and be relatively more advanced than F-22s.

The F-22 has 4 large and two small MFDs and a large HUD, but PAK-FA’s two displays are much larger still and the HUD even bigger:




Dogfighting: The F-22 is exceptionally maneuverable, but comparatively less dogfight optimized compared to the PAK-FA which has 3D thrust vectoring and moving LERX. This seems in line with Russian doctrine still influenced by the Syrian experiences over the Baka Valley in 1981 where Soviet supplied fighters were decimated by the Israeli air force in close combat.

It seems probable that the PAK-FA is more maneuverable, but the F-22 may have speed-bleed/regain advantages.





The F-22 has larger wing leading-edge flaps and larger tail planes. The PAK-FA’s tail fins are smaller but all-moving and the 3D TVC allows the engines to be used both laterally and horizontally unlike the F-22 which relies on massive tail fins for lateral stability and yaw control.

Export market :
This in my eyes is by far the most impactful difference. PAK-FA is intended to be exported, both via the related Indo-Russian FGFA program (a two seat Su-30MKI replacement) and in the general export market. Within the latter, the most probable customers in my eyes (as of 2010 geo-politics) are Brazil, Venezuela, Belarus, Libya, Angola, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. Syria is never likely able to afford it and Iran is likely to fall from favor.




Therefore the most probable actual air-air adversary, and sales competitor, is the F-35 not the F-22; production of the F-22 is scheduled to stop with just 187 operational airframes and no exports. PAK-FA is also likely to be operated in relatively small numbers, but by many more air forces.

CREDITS ( Original Source )
: Here
 
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Chanakyaa

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An Interesting Read....

Imagine an apocryphal story of three fighter pilots meeting in the bar at an air combat conference in Stockholm, in the year 2015.

Chuck is a NATO F-22A Raptor pilot based in Germany, Boris an Su-35-1 Flanker E Plus pilot flying from one of the bases protecting Moscow, and Johan, a F-35A Lightning II pilot from the Netherlands.
All are masters of their craft and after drinks, “merely to lubricate the vocal chords”, they do what fighter pilots all over the world do – swap stories and make claims about their beloved aircraft.


Chuck starts. “I’m king of the skies,” he claims. “I supercruise at 52,000 feet and Mach 1.7. Boris, I can see you from ~100 nm, and my AIM-120D launch range at this Mach is 70 nm. You are one dead Flanker.” Boris acknowledges the performance of the APG-77 and the Raptor, but replies, “Your missiles are easy to avoid. When you fire, my OLS-35 will see the flare, and I will turn away to out-run the missile.

You need to fire closer than 50 nm – even then at 50,000 feet and Mach 1.2, my Flanker can out-turn your missile. If you are side or rear on I can get a lock-on at ~40 nm and I have a choice of seeker heads, so you might wear an R-77M in the backside.”

“No way Boris,” Chuck replies,

“I know that game. I’m head on and you can’t see me until about ~15 nm. If I have not killed you at 50 nautical, I’m outa there at the speed of heat.” Boris and Chuck concede that there might be a nil-all draw, with Chuck being untouchable because of the Raptor’s stealth, altitude and speed and the well defended Su-35-1 defeating the Raptor’s missiles

Now Boris makes his point. “Comrade Johan, I have something special for you. My IRBIS-E will see you head-on at ~25nm, but I fly my boys very wide and share the paints on our digital network.

At side and rear looks, I see you at ~45 nm and my ramjet RVV-AE-PDs can get you at that range.” “No way”, Johan responds, “my APG-81 radar will see you at ~75 nm and I can launch at 50 nm.

If you fire, my DAS will see the missile at launch, so I’ll turn away to break lock”. “And my wingman will see you in the turn, computer network will still know where you are, and we will skewer you in the cross-fire” is Boris’s riposte, “and you will run out of missiles before I do, If I duck your AIM-120D shots, I will win easily”. They bicker about the strengths of their own aircraft and weaknesses of the other’s and Johan grudgingly agrees the Flanker might be the winner.

Chuck and Johan stay in the bar after Boris is unexpectedly ‘called away’ by men in dark coats, and agree that work needs to be done on improving the AIM-120D’s terminal lethality.
Essentially, this is a deadly play between stealth, agility, sensors and missiles. From the front quarter the Raptor’s 0.0001 square meter Radar Cross Section (RCS) and the Lightning II’s 0.001 square metres make them difficult targets.

The Flanker-E Plus, while having a reduced radar signature, still has a residual RCS of about 2 square metres, such that the F-22A and the F-35 will see the Su-35-1 way beyond their missile launch range.

The Su-35-1 struggles to see the F-22A on radar, but can find the F-35’s 0.01 square metre lower side and rear RCS. The AIM-120D is a fine missile, but the Su-35-1 has finer defences, so the missile kill probabilities are likely to be low. When out of missiles, the F-22 Raptor can escape.

The F-35 Lightning II cannot.

A more likely future scenario is that Boris will be banned from subsequent air combat conferences, so we must rely on more conventional air combat operations analyses. If we move forward just a couple of years, say to the year 2017, and the PAK-FA is operational, there is a profound change in air combat engagements.

Suppose the Russians don’t quite master stealth to the degree of the F-22A, but manage a RCS of 0.01 square metres from all aspects. The F-22A’s APG-77 will detect the PAK-FA at ~40 nm and the F-35’s APG-81 at ~30 nm. Passive electronic surveillance might increase detection ranges, but this still makes long-range missile shots problematic, as tracking depends upon the opponent emitting, which smart opponents will try not to do.

The PAK-FA’s radar can be expected to be an improvement on the IRBIS-E so at front-on aspects might detect the F-22A at ~15 nautical miles and the F-35 at ~28 nautical miles; and from side and rear aspects, the F-22A at ~43 nautical miles and the F-35 at ~51 nautical miles.

Infrared sensors are the next growth area in air combat. Every air combat jet has unavoidable infrared signatures – converting kerosene into thrust at prodigious rates does that. The existing OLS-35, developed for the Su-35BM, is credited with the ability to detect a ‘fighter type’ target head on from 27 nautical miles, and from behind at around 50 nautical miles, through a 90° sector.

It uses conventional detector technology, and provides similar performance to the Eurofighter Typhoon PIRATE infrared sensor. It is likely the PAK-FA will have infrared signature management as is found on the designs of the YF-23A, B-2A and the F-22A, but not on the F-35 [2].

The emerging technology of Quantum Well Imaging Photodetectors (QWIP) is set to cause an upset in this market sector.
 

Chanakyaa

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but still raptor is more sexy and has got a futuristic design !
Well, I wont go by looks but the Amount of Money being poured in the Raptor Programme and Given that Western Fighters do seem to be better than Russian or Chinese.. F22 Raptor is Way advanced than any Fighter at least , NOW.
 

Markus

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Nice comparison.

Even if PAK FA is inferior to the Raptor, even then it is a better plane. We are looking out for something that can be good value for money.

Raptor is deadly but certainly does not fit the bill. F22 should not be compared with any plane at all, its very remote if US will ever sell this plane to any other country.

I am no aviation expert but 30 hours of maintenance for every one hour of flight looks to be on the higher side.

This is a highly specialized plane meant to be used for only special missions. We are better off with the PAK FA.
 

Chanakyaa

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Ecxept for Russia, which might face USAF and Its Raptors... countries like India are 200% satisfied as its rivals wont have something comparable soon.

Even if they have...

Raptor : Pak FA :: PakFA : JXX

The difference remains for the same reasons why Raptor is Considered superior to Pak FA.

So to sum up.. Pak FA will remain the Raptor in South Asia.
 

gambit

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Nice comparison.

Even if PAK FA is inferior to the Raptor, even then it is a better plane. We are looking out for something that can be good value for money.

Raptor is deadly but certainly does not fit the bill. F22 should not be compared with any plane at all, its very remote if US will ever sell this plane to any other country.

I am no aviation expert but 30 hours of maintenance for every one hour of flight looks to be on the higher side.

This is a highly specialized plane meant to be used for only special missions. We are better off with the PAK FA.
If you have no experience then how can you make that declaration? Because Rachel Maddow said so? Is she any sort of 'aviation expert'? Where did she got her information? That hack piece Maddow did on the F-22 has been debunked simply because she did not know what she was talking about and did not live up to her due diligence as a journalist. Maddow is now more entertainer than journalist.
 

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