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Third PAK FA fighter takes to sky

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The T-50 fifth generation fighter aircraft. A Sukhoi photo

MOSCOW (BNS): The third prototype fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) of Russia has begun flight trials at a Sukhoi plant near Moscow.

The aircraft, piloted by Sukhoi's test-pilot Sergey Bogdan, took to the sky from the company's KnAAPO aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur on Tuesday.

The fighter stayed in air a little more than an hour and landed on the factory airfield runway.

"The flight was successful, in full accordance with the flight plan," Sukhoi said.

During the test flight, the aircraft's stability and evaluation of power plant systems' performance was checked.

The aircraft proved itself well in all phases of the planned flight programme. The pilot confirmed reliable operation of all systems and components, the aircraft's manufacturer said.

Russia began flight testing the new-generation supersonic stealth fighter in 2010 when the first PAK FA prototype, dubbed T-50, made its maiden flight on January 29.

Earlier this month, Sukhoi announced that two FGFA prototypes completed 100 test flights since the beginning of flight trials in January 2010. The 100th test flight took place on November 3.

The advanced warplane made its first public appearance and conducted demonstration flights during the MAKS 2011 international air show in Moscow in June.

Sukhoi plans to complete all tests of the PAK FA airframe in 2011-2012, and expects to sign a contract in 2013 for a pilot lot of ten aircraft for testing the model's entire weapons suite. At present, work is underway on the full range of ground and flight tests, according to the company.

Russia is developing the FGFA to compete with the US F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II warplanes.

The Russian Air Force plans to induct the futuristic fighter from 2015. India is partnering with Russia in developing the warplanes for its air force.

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