A Russian military delegation about to visit Brazil will offer joint development of a fifth-generation combat aircraft “of the type” of its own most newest fighter to Brazilian defense officials, a member of the delegation told RIA Novosti Monday.
The proposal appears to be in support of an unsolicited offer by Russia’s combat aircraft maker Sukhoi of its Su-35 fighter, that has been struck off Brazil’s shortlist for its air force’s F-X2 tender for the purchase of 36 fighter jets worth $4 billion. Russia is still hoping to sell the Su-35s or similar aircraft to Brazil outside the framework of that tender, sweetening the deal with the new proposal.
“During the talks in Brazil, we are ready to offer our partners deliveries of ready-for-sale advanced aircraft like the Su-35, but also joint development of a next-generation [combat] aircraft of the T-50 type,” the delegation source said.
The T-50 or PAK-FA, which will make up the core of Russia's future fighter fleet, is a multirole warplane featuring "stealth" technology," super-maneuverability, super-cruise capability, and advanced avionics including an active electronically scanned array radar, according to its designer Sukhoi.
In late April, President Vladimir Putin said the first T-50 would enter service with Russia’s armed forces in 2016.
Russia and India are already developing a derivative of T-50 for the Indian Air Force. According to executives from India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), that will build the plane, the two sides completed the preliminary design of the aircraft, tentatively dubbed FGFA, earlier this year and are now negotiating a detailed design contract.
The F-X2 tender is Brazil’s second attempt to find a replacement for its ageing Northrop F-5 and Dassault Mirage fighters. An earlier tender, F-X, was cancelled in 2005 due to lack of funding.
Three contenders officially remain in the running – the Swedish SAAB Gripen NG, French Dassault Rafale and US Boeing FA-18E/F Super Hornet. According to Defense Industry Daily, the FA-18E/F was close to winning the deal last month, but revelations that the United States National Security Agency had spied on the Brazilian presidential office put the deal on hold. Brazil’s Poder Aero magazine, citing local officials, says Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff decided late last month to postpone the tender until 2015, after next year’s elections.