via National Interest
Even before its first fifth-generation stealth fighter completes development, Russia has embarked on developing sixth and even seventh-generation follow-ons to the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA. Indeed, Sukhoi has already presented initial concepts for a new sixth-generation fighter to the Russian government.This is predictable. The Russians are probably going to give the PAK-FA the SU-30 treatment and spiral upgrade the design. By the time they're finished with it, it'll probably be the difference between the original SU-27 and the SU-35 flying now.
"They have really come up with the designs for the creation of the sixth-generation fighter,” Russian deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told theMoscow-based TASS News agency on Wednesday. “I’m referring also to new design concepts briefly presented by the Sukhoi design bureau and by the general designer appointed for all aircraft systems and armaments.”
Meanwhile, most of Russia’s aircraft development efforts are focused on testing the PAK-FA fifth-generation fighter. Like the Pentagon, the Russian military plans decades ahead. In many ways, the Russian sixth-generation concept is akin to the U.S. Air Force’s F-X Next Generation Air Dominance effort to replace the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor or the U.S. Navy’s F/A-XX program.
Like the United States, Russia too is exploring concepts like manned-unmanned teaming. “It [the plane] will be modified in both versions,” Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces told TASS. However, there are very few additional details available about the new Russian effort.
Calling it a 6th and 7th gen fighter might be a step too far, but it will probably follow then lead fighter development. We have to remember this painful fact. The PAK-FA will for all practical purposes achieve Full Operational Capability before the F-35 even though it started development years later.