Moscow, Oct 30 (UNI) Russia's fifth generation fighter plane, currently being jointly developed with India, will make its maiden flight no later than in 2012, a Russian senior Air Force official said today.
Russia and India signed a pact on the joint development and production of an advanced multi-purpose fighter aircraft on October 18, during the visit of Defence Minister A K Antony here.
''The deadlines have been set. The fighter must take to the skies in 2012 and enter service with the Air Force in 2015,'' the deputy commander of the Russian Air Force Lt Gen Igor Sadofyev told reporters.
He said Indo-Russian cooperation on the project would significantly boost its development.
''International cooperation and joint development efforts will certainly expedite the process,'' Gen Sadofyev said, adding ''It's a path the whole world is taking nowadays, and we are no exception.'' He also said the Air Force was planning to procure at least six to eight Su-34 Fullback strike aircraft every year, starting from 2008.
''Russia's Air Force desperately needs the Su-34s,'' the General said.
''I would prefer to re-equip at least two air regiments every year - that is, 48 aircraft,'' Sadofyev said, pointing out ''Unfortunately, this is financially impossible at present, but perhaps we will get six to eight planes annually.'' The 36 million dollars Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft equipped with twin AL-31MF afterburning turbojet engines.
It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night, and fields weaponry that includes a 30mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs.
Designed by the Sukhoi, the Su-34s will replace the Su-24 Fencer frontline bombers. Experts said the new bomber has the potential to become the top plane in its class for years to come.