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SOURCE:  JATIN RAM / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

The Sukhoi aircraft design bureau has started work on the design and development of Single engined stealth fighter with a Maximum take of weight (MTOW) of 18 tons that could put it little over India’s 17.5 tons Tejas Mk2 and 16.5 tons of the Saab’s Gripen-E creating the first stealth fighter jet in this niche sub-20 ton fighter jet category that is often called as Medium weight.

Sukhoi plans to use one Izdeliye 30 engine that is developed for the Su-57 program that means it will have a thrust class of around 180kN, also one of the highest thrust class engines in its class if reports turn out to be true. Tejas Mk2 and Gripen-E both are powered by General electric’s F414 variants that generate 98kN of thrust in their class, which until now was the best in its class. Izdeliye30 engine will also come with thrust vector control nozzles, which also makes it first in class.

some of the leaked designs of the alleged Single engine Stealth program belonging to Sukhoi shows that it will have a Smaller Internal weapons bay and generally most of its heavier payloads will be required to be equipped on its external pylons, thus compromising on its stealth aspects when not on stealthy missions. Unlike F-35 that has an MTOW of 31 tons and a bigger internal weapons bay that can carry a minimum of 4 AMRAAMS, it’s not clear if Sukhoi’s 18-ton Stealth aircraft will have the same space luxury to carry 4 R-77 BVRAAMS Internally for Air Superiority missions due to constraint space.

Gripen-E will be using its superior electronic masking technology to reduce its radar signature and Tejas Mk2 will use improved composite panels to reduce its frontal radar cross-section that will be lesser than that of the smaller sibling Tejas Mk1, but both can’t be classified as 5th generation fighter jets due to lack of internal weapons bay, even though a lot of electronic and composite materials will be used by both of this aircraft to at least reduce its frontal radar cross-section.

Sukhoi seems to be targeting those customers who will be retiring their Mig-29 and F-16s in the next few years, since even for India and China, Sukhoi-57 was branded as expensive and thus their was a market for cheaper single-engined stealth aircraft. Tejas Mk2 and Gripen-E are only sub-20 ton fighter jets that are just entering production and are considered newer designs and it will be a challenge for both countries to export them in case Sukhoi can price them low.

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