Although we offer rides in the MiG-29 we always look forward to what the other big aircraft manufacturer is doing. We talk about Sukhoi, and now they have made some very good progress with their T-50 jet fighter being tested and early flights already scheduled in 2014. Russia will start state flight tests of its fifth-generation T-50 fighter jet in 2014, United Aircraft Corporation’s President Mikhail Pogosyan told reporters. “In 2013 we are expected to wrap up its preliminary tests and start operational testing. In 2014, we are planning to start official state tests,” Pogosyan said on Tuesday, adding “the first stage of the state trials should be complete by 2015.” The test program involves six prototype airframes, including four flying, one static and one systems test airframe. Another flying prototype will join the tests this year, Pogosyan said. “Flight testing this year will go ahead with five aircraft,” he said. The T-50, also known as PAK-FA (future tactical fighter aircraft), first flew in January 2010 and was presented to the public at the Moscow Air Show in 2011. The T-50, which will be the core of Russia’s future fighter fleet, is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft featuring elements of “stealth” technology,” super-maneuverability, super-cruise capability (supersonic flight without use of afterburner), and an advanced avionics suite including an X-band active phased-array radar. India will also buy a fighter aircraft based on the T-50, known as the FGFA (fifth-generation fighter aircraft). United Aircraft Corporation is the state holding company uniting Russia’s aircraft building industry including Sukhoi, a military and civil aircraft manufacturer.

The Red Arrows

With the great season of air displays coming soon, we wanted to a have look at one specific formation which is one of the greatest in the world – the Red Arrows. Officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force based at RAF Scampton. The team was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by RAF commands. The team are renowned throughout the world, acting as ambassadors of Great Britain. They promote the professional excellence of the Royal Air Force, assist in recruiting into the Royal Air Force, contribute to Defence Diplomacy when displaying overseas and support wider British interests through the promotion of British industry by demonstrating the capabilities of its equipment and expertise. The Red Arrows badge shows the aircraft in their trademark diamond nine formation, with the motto Éclat, a French word meaning “brilliance” or “excellence”. Initially, they were equipped with seven Folland Gnat trainers inherited from the RAF Yellowjacks display team. This aircraft was chosen because it was less expensive to operate than front-line fighters. In their first season, they flew at 65 shows across Europe. In 1966, the team was increased to nine members, enabling them to develop their Diamond Nine formation. In late 1979, they switched to the BAE Hawk trainer. The Red Arrows have performed over 4,000 displays worldwide in 52 countries. 2013 will be the 49th display season for the Red Arrows in which they will continue to enthrall, captivate and inspire millions of people both in the UK and around the world with a series of displays and flypasts at a wide variety of events.

After many months on the ground, we are pleased to see the F-22 Raptor resuming normal flight operations. Some modifications were completed, especially to life support equipment, and particulary breathing systems. Completion of this task eliminates the need to restrict flight operations to remain within a 30-minute flying distance from an airfield suitable for landing. F-22 crews have also resumed their aerospace control alert mission in Alaska after the Automatic Back-up Oxygen System was installed in Elmendorf-based aircraft. Altitude restrictions have also been incrementally removed for F-22s that have received the ABOS modification. Altitude restrictions for training flights remain for non-ABOS equipped F-22 aircraft; however, those restrictions will be removed as each aircraft is modified. The return to normal flight operations hinged on completing eight near-term actions identified by the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, successful fielding of the modified Combat Edge upper pressure garment valve, and fielding of the automatic backup oxygen system. All actions identified by the SAB were completed in December 2012. Fielding of the modified Combat Edge upper pressure garment valve and related pieces was completed in January. The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation supermaneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, andsignals intelligence roles. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is the prime contractor and is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems and final assembly of the F-22. Program partner Boeing Defense, Space & Security provides the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems. The aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 during the years prior to formally entering USAF service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Despite a protracted and costly development period, the United States Air Force considers the F-22 a critical component of U.S. tactical air power, and claims that the aircraft is unmatched by any known or projected fighter. Lockheed Martin claims that the Raptor’s combination of stealth, speed, agility, precision and situational awareness, combined with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities, makes it the best overall fighter in the world today. Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, former Chief of the Australian Defence Force, said in 2004 that the “F-22 will be the most outstanding fighter plane ever built. The aircraft was grounded after serious faults in its oxygen and breathing systems which caused pilots to black out. These problems are fixed now, allowing the aircraft back in the air.

France could produce the Rafale jet fighter in Malaysia. At a time when things are not going smoothly in France with lots of talk and noise about relocation, industries and competition, France has started discussing producing and manufacturing the Rafale fighter plane in Malaysia.This could be of course, if Malaysia was to purchase the Rafale. Malaysia is looking to buy 18 combat fighters to replace its ageing Russian Mig-29s, with the Eurofighter, Boeing’s F-18 and Saab’s Gripen also in the running. The multi-role Rafale, which entered service in the French military in 2001, can carry out air-ground or air-sea attacks, reconnaissance, aerial interception or nuclear strike missions. France is keen to make its first foreign sale of the Rafale, which has struggled to find buyers, to support a project that has cost tens of billions of euros. India has selected the Rafale, with most of the 126 fighter jets they plan to buy expected to be built there if the final contract is signed this year as hoped. Malaysia is keen for its local companies to be involved in the manufacturing, and Dassault said the company has spent considerable effort in lining up local suppliers should the Rafale be selected.

Rafale fighter plane