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Sukhoi T-50: Russian fighter jet has the best of stealth technology

For decades, Russians and Americans have been competing for technology for invisible warplanes. The models should not be visible on the opponent's radar screens, or as late as possible. With these stealth properties, also known as stealth technology, the aircraft should be able to operate secretly in the airspace.

How far the technology has advanced is now clear from a statement by the Russian state holding company Rostec. According to this, the currently most modern Russian fighter jet, the model T-50 (PAK-FA) from the manufacturer Sukhoi, allegedly has better stealth properties than the most powerful US fighter F-22 from Lockheed Martin.

According to Rostec, the radar cross-section, i.e. the reflective surface, is on average just 10 square centimeters up to one square meter. The new Russian T-50 fighter jet made its maiden flight in 2010. So far, five copies are in flight testing.

Projection surface of a handball

The fifth generation of the Russian fighter jet is even more difficult to discover than the US model F-22, says Rostec confidently. The Russian T-50 chief designer Aleksander Davidenko estimates the US model to be 30 to 40 square centimeters radar cross-section.

Although the fighter jets are around 20 meters long and have a wingspan of around 14 meters, they do not reflect more radar rays than the projection surface of a handball. The progress made by the aircraft coverts is clear from the Sukhoi model SU-27. When the fighter jet took off for the first time almost 40 years ago, it is said to have had a radar cross-section of ten to 15 square meters.

The stealth properties are achieved through various measures. The designers of the military jets in the USA, Russia and now also in China are changing the shape and surface of the aircraft in such a way that the incident radar beams are not directly reflected, but deflected or swallowed. Special surfaces and protective coatings also contribute to this.

Sukhoi has published patents for T-50 engines

The Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi has published patents for the T-50 model, how even radar beams are deflected in the large openings of the engines. Everything is done to ensure that the radar waves do not hit a surface at right angles.

But there are also disadvantages. In the case of stealth fighter jets, the weapons are usually carried inside the jet behind large flaps in order to create a smooth outer surface. This reduces the loading capacity for the armament.

In the case of a very flat aircraft with an inclined tail unit, flight stability and maneuverability also decrease. The special paints and coatings used to swallow the radar beams are also said to be sensitive and require a lot of maintenance.

Flight routes with as few curves as possible