MOSCOW - Russia’s first stealth fighter intended to match the latest US design made its maiden flight yesterday, boosting the country’s efforts to modernize its rusting Soviet-built arsenals and retain its lucrative export market.
The Sukhoi T-50’s flight was made nearly two decades after the first prototype of the US F-22 Raptor took to the air, and Russian officials said it will take five years more for the new jet to enter service. Still, the flight marked a major step in Russia’s efforts to burnish the faded glory of its aviation industries and strengthen a beleaguered military.
The sleek twin-engined jet closely resembling the Raptor flew for 47-minutes from an airfield at Sukhoi’s production plant in the Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur yesterday. Development of the so-called fifth-generation fighter has been veiled in secrecy.