American Stealth Fighter F-22 Vs Russian-Indian Fifth Gen PAK FA; Comparison with Latest Figures

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PAK FA T-50Russia and India dominated the sky for almost a decade with Sukhoi 30 MKI  (Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy Indiski / Modernized Commercial India), but the dominance was soon taken over by a new 5th generation aircraft from America. The plane can penetrate the enemy skies without being detected. This new stealth feature in the plane makes it a dominating aircraft.

To regain the air supremacy, Russia is soon going to induct its own 5th generation stealth aircraft PAK FA (Read: Russia to rule the sky once again). The development had begun long ago, in the late 1980s, when the Soviet Union outlined a need for a next-generation aircraft to replace its MiG-29 and Su-27 in front line service. PAK FA would be a single seater combat aircraft, whereas with the help of India, Russia will be making a twin seater variant too, which will use Indian origin weapons and avionics. HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) chairman told on 16th September, 2008 that the contribution of India will be mostly in composites, cockpits, avionics and arming the fighter.

On Friday 29th Jan, 2010, PAK FA performed its first test flight successfully (Read: Indo-Russian stealth fighter performed its first flight)

American F-22 is already serving the US Airforce, while Russian plane is still to be inducted. Now that both the planes are out of the paper into the real existence,  we got many requests to do a comparative research and analysis on the specification and performance of these two planes.

F-22 with drop tanks in transit to Kadena Air Base,
Japan from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia

In 1981, the U.S. Air Force developed a requirement for an Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF), as a new air superiority fighter, to replace the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon. This was influenced by the emerging worldwide threats, including development and proliferation of Soviet Su-27 “Flanker”- and MiG-29 “Fulcrum-class fighter aircraft.

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While US itself is having problems in keeping and maintaining F-22 in the airforce that they had to stop further orders, it is not clear to what extent Russia and India will be able to carry this costly fighter.

US has ruled out any selling plans for F-22, instead it will consider selling only F-35 to friendly nations. PAK FA and FGFA (Indo Russian Fifth Gen Figther Aircraft) will be only used by India and Russia, though recently South Korea has shown interest in purchasing this aircraft from Russia.

Stealth technology is acquired by incorporating a combination of features to reduce visibility in the infrared, visual, audio and radio frequency spectrum. It is accomplished by using a different concept design than the conventional design which, though arises some limitations to it, gives it an advantage of intruding a hostile region without the knowledge of the enemy.

Russian approach towards stealth is slightly different; the plan is to make the aircraft invisible to radar by using a sort of plasma torch on the nose of the plane, and this torch creates ionized cloud around the plane which will absorb radar waves. (Read more: Russia to rule the sky once again).

The unit cost of Russian Aircraft is slightly more than the F-22, but Russians planes are considered to be more agile and better aerodynamically designed.

According to the interview of the Sukhoi officers, the new radar used in the PAK FA will reduce the pilot load and will use dedicated data links to share information between aircrafts.

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On the other hand, the high cost of the F-22 aircraft, a lack of clear air-to-air combat missions because of delays in the Russian and Chinese fifth-generation fighter programs, a US ban on Raptor exports, and the ongoing development of the planned cheaper and more versatile F-35 resulted in calls to end F-22 production. In April 2009 the US Department of Defense proposed to cease placing new orders, subject to Congressional approval, for a final procurement tally of 187 Raptors. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 lacked funding for further F-22 production. US is now giving more stress on completing the development and production of much cheaper and better F-35.

There has been reportedly 3 accidents of F-22, latest one was On 16 November 2010, where an F-22, based at Elmendorf, Alaska, lost contact with Air Traffic Control. The accident has been attributed to a malfunction in the bleed air system that shut down the aircraft’s Environmental Control System (ECS) and On-Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS).

On 11 January, 2011 Chinese had tested their own J-10 stealth fighter, leading to the speculation of the reactivation of F-22 production. As we have come so far, and US has had not so good hands on experience of having a stealth fighter in the force, it wouldn’t be fair to compare F-22 with PAK FA. The next comparison should be between F-35, PAK FA/HAL FGFA and Chinese J-10.

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.
  • Harish

    Could we have a comparison between F-35, PAK-FA and J-10 please?

    • tipoo2

      The J10 makes no sense in that comparison. J20 and J31 maybe.


    @Harish j 10 is not fifth gen ..f 35 is more of a stealthy ground attack fighter rather than a rock solid dog fighter …no comparison ,, however if you compare f 22 with pak fa ..i would say that pak fa is better …f 22 is old … moreover it needs a lot of money for its maintenance i would recommend a link on youtube …shows that f22 not so good

    • chikun singhania

      kbhi shakal dekhi ha jehaz ki…?
      Bara aya apny tayye comparison krny wala…
      first complete ur test flights then talk of comparison with f22..

  • Anonymous

    Actually the Pak-Fa has faced a fair share of challenges and there are plans to upgrade existing f-22’s. The radar signature for the f-22 is also far less than that of the pan-fa and seeing as the f-22 has shown to be a dominant aircraft, and pan-fa is only on paper it isn’t worth comparing. Another key thing to note is that the US believe that dogfighting days are numbered and while the f-22 is super maneuverable it is more of “sniper” than anything else. It’s mission is to get in and out with out being seen. The Pak-fa is meant to be maneuverable and stealthy but not nearly as much as the 22 it does have 2.5 d thrust vectoring but its current engines have shown a ton of problems. On a side not neither aircrafts capabilities will be known for the next ten years at least because each is so heavily classified. If the US was so worried about the FA it would not keep its technology from its allies i.e the ban on exports. The production of the planes is also going to be different for neither india or russia are interested in anymore than a few hundred and last time i checked 187 f-22s + 2000+ f-35’s + all the other planes measn the f-22 will never be without support. The US has always had the number one tech stuff compared to russia but it is much more expensive. If we got the idea that the Pak-fa was anywhere close to the F-22 we wouldn’t keep all of the design features a secret. Hell the f-35 isn’t anything close to it nothing is and while the russians area still developing 5th gen america is building 6th gen boeing is working on a pro type right now and several drones have been designed with aa capability the f22 should mark the end of man aa planes in the us

  • Anonymous

    however steath you are russian massive radars would trace you wherever on earth. you are just doing bussiness and not security

  • Gopesh Gupta via Facebook

    Inbox me your Question on anything about PAKFA/FGFA (Avionics,Engine,Airframe…)

  • tipoo2

    This is the first I’ve heard of a plasma torch on the Pak fa/fgfa to increase its stealth, what is the source for that?

    And the J10 leading to a debate about bringing back F22 production? The J10 isn’t even a stealth fighter. The J20 and maybe J31 I could see sparking that debate, but China still has some hurdles with the engines and avionics to work out, they won’t be threats to the F35 let alone F22 for quite some time.