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US Navy’s submarine-hunting ship will also launch surface warfare missions

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The US Navy is altering course to expand the capability set of the “Sea Hunter,” a submarine specialist vessel, to include broader lethal weapon attachments and a set of tools to initiate electronic attacks.

“Right now, the sky’s the limit,” Sea Hunter project manager Capt. Jon Rucker said at the Surface Naval Association in Arlington, Virginia on Tuesday. But the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) wants to give the submarine-hunting drone ship a “mission portfolio” makeover.

The Sea Hunter checks in at 132-feet long, 135 tons, has a range of 10,000 miles and was designed to weather waves of up to 13 feet. What DARPA thinks to make the Sea Hunter unique, however, are sophisticated sensors which can locate virtually silent enemy submarines. Retrieving the underwater GPS coordinates of stealthy diesel-electric submarines in busy waterways is akin to “trying to identify the sound of a single car engine in the din of a major city,” Rear Adm. Frank Drennan, a senior anti-submarine warfare official said Tuesday.

The Sea Hunter belongs to the Pentagon’s “anti-submarine warfare continuous trail unmanned vessel” (ACTUV), where the agency intended to design a partially-autonomous ship to navigate naval theaters globally. DARPA hopes to have the Sea Hunter traveling autonomously for 90 days. In April 2016 the Navy celebrated the Sea Hunter’s first test firing of a payload.

By monitoring the position and movement of foreign-deployed submarines over long time frames, the goal, Rucker said, is to stop enemy submarines from lurking in strategically vital areas, perhaps the Strait of Hormuz or South China Sea.

One existing Pentagon doctrine requires a human-centric command and control center to authorize lethal force, which could potentially complicate DARPA’s quest to achieve increased self-governing transport and autonomous deadly-fire capability.

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How Russian Su-57 5th Gen fighter evolved

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Russian pilots have survival kit at their disposal for case of emergency

Russia’s fifth-generation fighter jet, formerly known as the Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK FA), or Sukhoi T-50, has officially been named the Su-57. RIA Novosti contributor Andrei Kots takes a look at the evolution of Russia’s premier fighter jet.

Experts believe that the latest T-50-11 or the earlier T-50-10 variants of the original T-50 will inherit the onboard equipment of the T-50-9, which conducted its maiden flight on April 24, 2017. The United Aircraft Corporation’s CEO, Yuri Slyusarev, earlier said that the initial batch of 12 such planes will be supplied to the Aerospace Forces in 2019.

Initial Tests

Presented to President Vladimir Putin in 2014, the scaled-down model of the T-50 was a combination of the latest technological know-how for the Sukhoi Su-47 and MiG-1.44 prospective fighter jets, designed back in the Soviet days.

When the production of the F-22 Raptor fifth-generation multirole fighter, which became a legislator of fashion in the field of next generation fighter planes, started in the US in 1997, it became clear that Russia needed to replace the Su-27 with a plane that would be up to par with its Western counterparts.

PAK FA (Su-57) Photo: Russian MoD

Since its first flight in the early 2010s, the T-50 has receiving a vast series of upgrades to its avionics, stealth and armaments, Andrei Kots wrote. The T-50-1 prototype took to the skies on January 29, 2010, and the T-50-2 followed suit on March 3, 2011. After 40 successful flight tests the

T-50-2 took part in the MAKS 2011 air show. Before taking off, however, one of its engines caught fire forcing the pilot to abort. Engineers fixed the faulty engine and the T-50-2 flight tests resumed.

The T-50-3 flew on July 24, 2012. Unlike its predecessors, the new prototype carried onboard active phased-array radar. In December 2012, the T-50-4 took to the skies with the same radar array on board. Both prototypes proved fast and highly maneuverable and their state-of-the-art radar systems worked perfectly.

Second Stage

The T-50-6, T-50-8 and T-50-9 (maiden flights in April 2015, November 2016 and April 2017, respectively) were second-stage prototypes, enabling the use of upgraded AL-41F1 engines, similar to the ones powering the Su-35 fighters.

The second-stage engine, dubbed “Item 30,” will feature a new fan and control mechanism; it will be more fuel-efficient and will have greater endurance.

A pilot version of the second-stage PAK FA with a new engine is slated to fly later this year.
The T-50-6, T-50-8 and T-50-9 also have stronger airframes, bigger wingspans and make wider use of composite materials.

Flight tests are proceeding at full swing. Everything is going well. We are already testing in-flight missile launches and the plane is performing just fine,” Aerospace Forces Commander Viktor Bondarev told reported on the sidelines of the MAKS 2015 airshow.

All Set for Mass Production

In July, Viktor Bondarev said that the construction of the highly appraised ninth, 10th and 11th prototypes of the Su-57 was slated to begin shortly.

I see no physiological limits whatsoever for PAK FA pilots. The designers are working to make sure that much of the pilot’s work is done by the plane itself,” Bondarev added.

With six Su-57s scheduled for delivery to the Aerospace Forces by next year, with mass production beginning shortly afterwards, Andrei Kots concluded.

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Russia’s state-of-art PAK FA fighter jet officially named Su-57

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© Sputnik/ Alexei Druzhinin

Russia’s fifth-generation fighter jet AK FA has officially been named as the Su-57, Russian Aerospace Forces Commander Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Friday.

Russia’s fifth-generation fighter jet formerly known as Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK FA), or Sukhoi T-50, has officially been named as the Su-57, Russian Aerospace Forces Commander Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Friday.

“The decision has been made, the aircraft got its name, like a child after the birth. Su-57 — from now on, we will call it that way,” Bondarev said in an interview with Russia’s Zvezda broadcaster.

The Su-57 is a single-seat, twin-engine multi-role stealth fighter designed for air superiority and attack roles. It is equipped with advanced avionics system and airborne active phased array radar.
The jet made its maiden flight in 2010. Yuri Slyusar, the president of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, which is involved in building the aircraft, said last month that the first Su-57s could come into service in 2019.

Since its first flight in the early 2010s, the T-50, part of the Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK-FA) program, has received a vast series of upgrades to its avionics, stealth and armaments. On Wednesday, United Aircraft Corporation General Designer Sergei Korotkov confirmed that engineers are busy working on the creation of a next-generation engine for the plane, one that boasts increased thrust and fuel efficiency, lower cost, and improved reliability compared to the existing engine.

With six machines expected to be delivered to the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces by next year, the military plans to equip the air force with about 55 T-50 fighters by 2020, with mass production beginning after that.

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