TYPE: Multirole fighter.
PROGRAMME: Successor programme to original quest for fifth-generation fighter, for which MiG 1.42 and Sukhoi S-37/Su-47 Berkut demonstrators were built. Development began in 1998 to meet Russian Air Forces TTZ (tactical technical assessment) of the same year. Sukhoi-led co-operative project launched May 2001; initially termed LFS (legkiy frontovoy samolet: Light Frontline Aircraft), although competition also known as LFI (legkiy frontovoy istrebitel: Light Frontline Fighter). Air Forces' project name is PAKFA (perspektivnnyi aviatsionnyi kompleks frontovoi aviatsyi: Prospective Aviation Complex for Frontal Aviation).
Examining committee established 10 January 2002 to assess competing bids from RSK 'MiG' and AVPK Sukhoi, each of which nominated Yakovlev as associate. On 26 April 2002, Russian Federation Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology declared Sukhoi as lead developer of new aircraft, to be assisted by RSK 'MiG' and Yakovlev as subcontractors. In May 2002, development agreement signed by AVPK Sukhoi, Sukhoi OKB, State Research Institute of Aviation Systems (Gos-NIIAS), Central Aero- and Hydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI), Research Institute of Aero Engine Technology and Production (TsIAM), Central Research Institute of Material (VIAM), National Institute of Aviation Technologies (NIAT), Lyulka/Saturn engine bureau, Ramenskoye Instrument Design Bureau (RPKB), Aviapribor holding company, Aviakosmitcheskoye Oborudvanyye and Vympel and Strela weapon companies. Several manufacturing plants expected to join at later stage. Participation of KnAAPO production plant was agreed in June 2002.
Timetable for PAKFA is draft design by end of 2002; first flight in 2006; production from 2010. Official funding equivalent to US$1.5 billion promised for R & D, but this considered inadequate, representing some 20 per cent of needs, excluding production investment. Unit cost expected to be US$35 million to US$40 million (2002 prices), based on production of between 500 and 600 aircraft.
Parameters believed to include 20 tonne MTOW - between MiG-29 and Su-27 types it is due to replace - supersonic cruising speed, low observables, high manoeuvrability and short-field performance. Engine choice yet to be made, but NPO Saturn is offering a derivative of AL-41F1, which was due to begin bench testing in 2002.
In January 2003, India discussed terms of invitation by Russia to join PAKFA design team. Preliminary details and a probable configuration were unofficially circulating by mid-2003, showing an aircraft similar to the Su-47 Berkut, apart from more conventional wings.