Monday, February 01, 2010
DTN News: India May Buy More Than 126 Fighter Jets, Boeing Says *Source: DTN News / Bloomberg By Kyunghee Park and Liza Lin (NSI News Source Info) MUMBAI, India - February 2, 2010: India may order “many more” than the 126 fighter jets it has sought bids for as it upgrade its armed forces, according to Boeing Co. “I think 126 could be an initial number and there could be many more airplanes than that,” Joe Song, vice president of the company’s defense business, said in an interview in Singapore today. “They see the need to update an ageing fleet.” Boeing, the second-largest U.S. defense contractor, is competing for the order, which may be worth as much as $11 billion, with companies including Lockheed Martin Corp., and Dassault Aviation SA. The companies submitted bids in April 2008 to supply the jets as the Indian air force modernizes its predominantly Russian-made fleet. India may decide on the order by March 2011 as field trials of the planes began in 2009, Defense Minister A.K. Antony has said. Sitanshu Kar, a ministry spokesman, today said he couldn’t offer any immediate comment on buying more jets. The plan to buy 126 jets is the biggest fighter-plane order in 15 years worldwide, Chicago-based Boeing has said. Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet is competing with Dassault’s Rafale, Lockheed’s F-16, Russia’s MiG-35, Saab AB’s Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon from a joint venture of Airbus SAS, BAE Systems Plc and Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA. --With assistance from Vipin Nair in Mumbai. Editors: Anand Krishnamoorthy, Neil Denslow To contact the reporters on this story: Kyunghee Park at +852-2977-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Liza Lin in Singapore at +65-6212-1329 or email@example.com To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at +852-2977-6639 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DTN News: JAL Says Still Neutral On Delta Or American Tie-Up ~ Financial News * JAL wants to make decision on Delta/American soon-president
* New management's first briefing since bankruptcy filing
*Source: DTN News / Reuters (NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan - February 1, 2010: The new president of Japan Airlines Corp (9205.T) said the bankrupt carrier has not yet decided whether to stick with partner American Airlines (AMR.N) or defect to Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and its SkyTeam group. "We are still neutral," Masaru Onishi, also the carrier's new chief operating officer, told a news conference on Monday, a little less than two weeks after it filed for bankruptcy. Onishi is part of a new management team led by chief executive Kazuo Inamori, the 77-year-old founder of electronics maker Kyocera Corp (6971.T). One of the new management's first major decisions will be whether to stay with Oneworld alliance partner American Airlines (AMR.N) or switch to rival Delta. Both U.S. carriers have been wooing JAL aggressively with offers of financial aid. JAL, Asia's largest carrier by revenues, filed for bankruptcy protection last month with about $25 billion in debt, and vowed to slash about a third of its work force and cut unprofitable routes as part of a state-supported restructuring plan. Some Japanese media had previously reported that JAL had already made a decision to end its alliance with American and join hands with Delta.
(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; Editing by Michael Watson)
DTN News: U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Dated February 01, 2010 *Source: DoD issued February 01, 2010 (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - February 01, 2010: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) Contracts issued February 01, 2010 are undermentioned; CONTRACTS
AIR FORCE ~Rolls-Royce Corp., of Indianapolis, Indiana was awarded a $145,950,000 firm fixed price contract which will exercise Option III (year 4) for sustaining services including logistics support, program management support, engineering services, spares and technical data in support of the C-130J propulsions systems which includes the AE2100D3 engine and R-391 propeller system. At this time, $42,747, 403 has been obligated. 330ACSG/GFKA, Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8504-07-D-0001, Delivery # FA8504-07-D-0001-0400). ~CSC Applied Technologies LLC of Ft. Worth, Texas was awarded a $30,175,532 firm fixed price contract for option exercise (Option year 1) for the Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada back-shop maintenance A-76 requirement for the 57th Maintenance Group (57 MXG) which includes on an off equipment maintenance, repair and inspections on Air Force aircraft along with associate unit supply functions to support maintenance activities and flying and maintenance scheduling, database management and analysis, centralized control (a maintenance operations center), and maintenance training functions. At this time, $2,550,909 has been obligated. 99 Cons/LGCC, Nellis AFB, Nevada is the contracting authority. (FA4861-08-C-C001). ~Tried & True Corp., Cleaning of El Cajon, Calif., was awarded a $20,000,000 firm fixed price contract which will provide for management, supplies, equipment, transportation and labor for non-personal custodial services at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado. At this time an estimated $2,362,746 has been obligated. 21 CONS/LGCAB, Peterson AFB, Colorado is the contracting authority (FA2517-10-D-5000). ~DRS Sustainment Systems, Inc., of St. Louis, Missouri was awarded a $19,802,272 firm fixed price incentive contract for overhaul of Tunner aircraft cargo loaders in support of the Tunner 60K loader program. At this time $6,600,757 has been obligated. 542 Combat Sustainment Wing Contracting Flight, PKBA, Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting authority (FA8519-04-D-0006-0064). ~General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., of Poway, Calif., was awarded a $12,804,804 cost plus fixed fee term contract to provide two MQ-9 Reaper test aircraft to support immediate and future development tests needs on the Reaper Increment I program. The total amount has been obligated. 703rd Aeronautical Systems Group, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio is the contracting authority (FA8620-05-G-3028-005005). ~Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Simulator, training and support, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $7,190,146 modification to a firm fixed price contract to provide Type I special training (operations and maintenance) for the government of Pakistan in support of their F-16 program. At this time, $6,115,480 has been obligated. AETC/CONS/LGCI, Randolph AFB, Texas is the contracting authority (FA3002-06-G-0001, Call 0014, Modification 02). DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY ~Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc., Tustin, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $36,000,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for radiology systems, subsystems and components. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The proposal was originally Web solicited with 43 responses. This contract is exercising the first option year period. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Feb. 3, 2011. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM2D1-09-D-8322). ~Hartland Fuel Products, Onalaska, Wis.*, is being awarded a minimum $6,686,607 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuels. Other locations of performance include Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Illinois. Using services are Army, Air Force and federal civilian agencies. There were 48 proposals originally solicited with 25 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is June 30, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-4533). ~Ports Petroleum, Wooster, Ohio*, is being awarded a minimum $12,135,550 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for fuels. Other locations of performance include Texas, Michigan and Nebraska. Using services are Army and federal civilian agencies. There were 48 proposals originally solicited with 25 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is June 30, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-10-D-4525). NAVY ~ Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors, Baltimore Md., is being awarded a $31,357,938 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for electrical design agent for the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS). This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $104,894,277. The MK 41 VLS provides a missile launching system for CG 47 and DDG 51 class surface combatants of the U.S. Navy, as well as surface combatants of allied navies. Efforts under the contract include design agent services to support the MK 41 VLS program and the life cycle support facility through efforts such as the integration of new missiles into VLS, integration of VLS into new ships, technical refresh, systems engineering, computer program engineering, and failure analyses. This contract combines purchases for the Navy (26.7 percent); and the governments of Japan (29.7 percent); Turkey (14.2 percent); Australia (7.7 percent); Spain (7.0 percent); Canada (6.0 percent); South Korea (5.0 percent); Netherlands (2.1 percent); and Germany (1.6 percent); under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Baltimore, Md. (92 percent); and Ventura, Calif. (8 percent); and is expected to be completed by September 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $3,184,020 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. 20376-2040, is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-5347). ~Stara Technologies, Inc.*, Gilbert, Ariz., is being awarded $23,229,967 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research and development efforts associated with alternative energy sources for persistent ground surveillance systems. Work will be performed in Gilbert, Ariz., (90 percent) and at the Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, Ariz., (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via a broad agency announcement. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-10-C-0103). ~BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services, Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded a $9,087,526 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for continued design agent and technical engineering support to the Weapons Direction Systems of the Standard Missile Programs. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $12,244,062. This contract combines purchases for the Navy (24.7 percent), the government of Australia (73.6 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program and the governments of Germany (0.8 percent) and the Netherlands (0.9 percent) under Memorandums of Understanding (MOU). Work will be performed in Rockville, Md. (85 percent) and Sydney, Australia (15 percent), and is expected to be completed by May 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $147,157 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-5345). *Small Business
DTN News: Singapore Airshow 2010 ~ Asia's Biggest For Aviation's Finest The World's Top 3 Aviation Events
DTN News: Singapore Airshow 2010 ~ Asia's Biggest For Aviation's Finest The World's Top 3 Aviation Events *Source: DTN News By Roger Smith (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - February 1, 2010: The Singapore Airshow 2010 is a 6-day event, taking place from 2 to 7 February 2010. The first 4 days are exclusively for trade attendees while the final 2 weekend days are open to public. Singapore Airshow - Asia's biggest for Aviation's Finest The world's Top 3 aviation events, the Singapore Airshow is the biggest aerospace and defence exhibition in Asia.
This international biennial event, first held in Singapore in 2008, serves as a global marketplace and networking powerhouse for the world aviation community. Ground crew put the finishing touches to an aircraft on display at the Singapore Airshow February 1, 2010. The aviation business, badly hit by the economic crisis and the bankruptcy of Japan Airlines, is unlikely to find much to cheer about at this year's first major industry event, the Singapore Airshow.
Singapore Airshow 2008 brought together 800 exhibiting companies from 48 countries and 43,827 trade attendees from 112 countries. In total, USD13 billion in sales was announced during show days and an additional USD2.6billion generated from contracts was reportedly secured during the event. Airmen from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) assemble an Elbit Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the Singapore Airshow February 1, 2010. The aviation business, badly hit by the economic crisis and the bankruptcy of Japan Airlines, is unlikely to find much to cheer about at this year's first major industry event, the Singapore Airshow.
Singapore Airshow also features a series of high level conferences dedicated to leading players in the global aviation industry - the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (ALS) and the Asia-Pacific Security Conference series (APSEC). Preparations are on track for the Singapore Airshow 2010.
Among the myriad of enhancements and new features is the Green Pavilion, a dedicated showcase of innovations and green initiatives reflecting the rising global interest and need for environmental sustainability and the Business Forums, a series of regional forums providing insights into business opportunities in the key markets of China, India and the Middle East. Participants can certainly expect more unrivalled opportunities for business, networking and insightful exchanges fuelled by the growth of Asia's fast-rising economies.
DTN News: Boeing Begins In-country C-17 Pilot Training For Royal Australian Air Force *Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) AMBERLEY, Queensland, - February 1, 2010: Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) today welcomed the first class of C-17 Globemaster III student pilots at RAAF Base Amberley. Two RAAF student pilots entered Pilot Initial Qualification (PIQ) training today, and two more will begin the second PIQ training course on Feb. 15. Boeing Defence Australia instructors will provide them with 350 hours of programmed training over 100 days, including 85 hours of computer-based training and 120 simulated flight hours with the C-17 Globemaster III Aircrew Training System (ATS). The Boeing-developed C-17 ATS, provided through a U.S. Air Force Foreign Military Sales contract, consists of a Loadmaster Station, Learning Center, various support systems and a Weapons Systems Trainer (WST), which is a realistic, full-motion simulator used for pilot training. "Becoming a RAAF C-17 pilot is my ultimate goal, and knowing I'm only a few months away from achieving this is incredibly exciting for me," said Pilot Officer Stephen Maunder, one of the two RAAF student pilots who began training today. "Being able to carry out my PIQ training under Boeing instructors at RAAF Base Amberley is a huge advantage, and I'm sure the WST will feel like our second home until we graduate in mid-April." After completing the training, which will culminate in five flights at the controls of a real C-17 and acceptance by the RAAF's No. 36 Squadron, the students will graduate as qualified RAAF pilots. The RAAF commissioned the C-17 ATS in November, making Australia the first C-17 ATS customer outside the United States. Previously, all RAAF C-17 pilots and aircrew trained in the United States. "Training in the United States has been an amazing opportunity for all pilots and loadmasters, and Boeing's U.S. team and the U.S. Air Force at Altus and Hickam bases have provided second-to-none training along with warm hospitality," said Squadron Leader Brent Taylor, 36 Squadron Training Flight Commander. "But now that the C-17 WST is operational, the strategic opportunities presented by a locally based training system include removing substantial travel costs and providing increased capability through reduced aircraft training hours, making way for increased tasking. "The Boeing Defence Australia instructors have strong aviation backgrounds in military and civilian operations, and I look forward to a long and rewarding relationship and have no doubt the in-country training will be of the highest standard," Taylor added. Boeing Defence Australia C-17 ATS site lead Nigel Page said that in-country C-17 pilot training "will allow the RAAF to develop a new generation of qualified pilots while saving a considerable amount of time and money through the use of its own facilities at Amberley. The RAAF is an important Boeing customer, and we look forward to supporting the C-17 strategic airlift capability for national and international operations while expanding our training capability in Australia." Boeing Defence Australia provides instructors for PIQ training and continuation training for current RAAF C-17 pilots and loadmasters, as well as scheduling and logistics support. The company's full range of training solutions includes mission planning systems; aircrew and maintenance training devices; training centers; and training services including instructors, courseware and logistics support. Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, is a leading Australian aerospace enterprise. With a world-class team of nearly 2,000 employees at 13 locations throughout Australia and two international sites, Boeing Defence Australia supports some of the largest and most complex defense projects in Australia. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.
DTN News: Cobra Gold 2010 Joint Exercise February 1-11, 2010 In Thailand *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) BANGKOK Thailand - February 1, 2010: The armed forces of Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, and the United States today announced their participation in the Cobra Gold joint military exercise in Thailand from February 1-11, 2010. Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled joint and coalition multi-national exercise hosted annually by the Kingdom of Thailand. A U.S. Army contingent marches during the opening ceremony of the annual joint "Cobra Gold 2010" (CG10) military exercise at U-tapao airport in Rayong province February 1, 2010. About 14,073 soldiers from six countries, Thailand, U.S. , Singapore Indonesia, Japan and South Korea are participating in the three-week military exercise.
Cobra Gold 2010 (CG10) is the latest in a continuing series of exercises designed to promote regional peace and security. This exercise marks the 29th anniversary of this regionally significant training event. U.S. Ambassador Eric G. John said at the CG10 press conference that “Cobra Gold is the United States’ largest military cooperative effort in the Pacific region and is a clear signal of U.S. commitment to the security of our friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific region.”
U.S. ambassador to Thailand Eric G. John (centre R) speaks during the opening ceremony as Thailand's Deputy Chief of Defense Forces Admiral Wallop Kerdphol (centre L) listens at the annual joint "Cobra Gold 2010" (CG10) military exercise at U-tapao airport in Rayong province, February 1, 2010. About 14,073 soldiers from six countries, Thailand, U.S. , Singapore Indonesia, Japan and South Korea are participating in the three-week military exercise. “Cobra Gold provides unique training opportunities for the participating nations, while also promoting relationship-building between militaries and local communities….While troops are honing skills on the ground, in the air, and in the waters around Thailand, service members from the United States, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore, will participate in a multi-national peacekeeping scenario. Thai soldiers carry national flags as they participate in the opening ceremony of the annual joint "Cobra Gold 2010" (CG10) military exercise at U-tapao airport in Rayong province, February 1, 2010. About 14,073 soldiers from six countries, Thailand, U.S. , Singapore Indonesia, Japan and South Korea are participating in the three-week military exercise.
At the same time, humanitarian assistance projects will improve the quality of life in Thai villages, while allowing troops the opportunity to develop skills for future peacekeeping or humanitarian assistance deployments.” Training will consist of a computer-simulated command post exercise (CPX), field training exercises linked to the CPX, and humanitarian and civic assistance projects. The training aims to improve the Pacific Command’s ability to conduct joint and multi-national operations and increase multi-national forces interoperability. The computer-simulated command post exercise will combine Thai, U.S., Singaporean, Japanese, Indonesian, and South Korean participants in a coalition task force (CTF). Thai, U.S., Singaporean, Japanese, Indonesian, South Korean, and United Nations force staff (UNF) will participate in the field training designed around the United Nations multi-national peace support operations scenario. Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea will participate in humanitarian and civic assistance projects.
DTN News: Libya To Purchase $1.8Bln In Weapons *Source: DTN News / The Moscow Times (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - February 1, 2010: Libya has signed an arms deal with Russia worth 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion), Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Saturday. "Only yesterday we signed a contract worth 1.3 billion euros," Putin said, RIA-Novosti reported. "And it's not just for small arms," he told Vladimir Grodetsky, head of Izhmash, which makes assault rifles, machine guns and other weapons.The S-300PMU2 Favorit variant is a new missile with larger warhead and better guidance with a range of 200 km, versus the 150 km of previous versions. The S-300 PMU2 "FAVORIT" air defence missile system is designed for defense of vital facilities of the state and its armed forces against mass strikes by modem and future aircraft, strategic cruise missiles, tactical and theatre ballistic missiles, and other air attack weapons over a full range of altitudes and speeds in heavy ECM environments. The universal mobile multichannel Favorit air defence missile system is a follow-on of the S-300 PMU1 ADM system and 83M6E command and control system and is distinguished by improved technical and operational characteristics. The improvements were achieved by introducing new engineering innovations in the S-300 PMU1, based on experience gained during its operation, and perfection of software support using state-of-the-art computer aids. Unveiled at the MAKS'97 exhibition in August 1997, the S-300PMU2 Favorit represents a thorough modification of the S-300PMU1. The first tests were performed on 10 August 1995 at the Kapustin Yar firing range. One new element is the entirely new 96L6E autonomous mobile radar, which works in conjunction with the 83M6E2 control post and S-300MPU2 launchers. The new 48N6E2 missile, developed by MKB Fakel, weighs 1,800 kg, and is 7.5 m long and 0.5 m in diameter. After a cold start in the upright position with help of a catapult, the 48N6E2 accelerates up to 1,900 m/s in 12 sec time, and then approaches the target from above. The 48N6E2 differs from the older 48N6E in having a new warhead specially designed for destroying ballistic missiles, with a warhead weight of 145 kg versus 70-100 kg. The S-300PMU2 Favorit can engage targets flying from 10 m to 27 km above the surface at a speed of up to 10,000 km/h. It is claimed that it has a kill ratio ranging from 0.8 to 0.93 against aircraft and from 0.8 to 0.98 against Tomahawk-class cruise missiles. The S-300PMU2 Favorit system is comprised of: *83M6E2 command post (CP) *Up to six 90Zh6E2 air defence missile complexes *48N6E2 air defence missiles *Technical support facilities. The 9M96E and 9M96E2 missiles are completely unifed in there board equipment structure, war equipment and design, and differ in sustaincr only. The missiles use "cold" vertical launch - before starting sue-tainer they launched from a container to height over 30 metres. While lifting to such a height a missile is tended toward the target by a gas-dynamic system. After starting the sustaincr, at initial and middle phases of the flight, inertial guidance with radio correction is used, and during target interception, - active self-guidance. If intensive maneuvering before contact with a target is required, the missile is capable to realise "supermanoeuvrability" mode. For this purpose gas-dynamic control system is used. This system imparts to missile unique -maneuverability all over the interception zone, at both high and law attitude. Equipping the missile with 24-kg warhead with controlled hitting field provides them with high efficiency in struggle with aircraft means of air attack. In every transport-and-launching container having sizes analogous to the containers for 5V55R, 48N6E, and 48N6E2 missiles (such as surface-to-air missile system S-300 PMU or S-300 PMU2) there arc four 9M96E or 9M96E2 missiles. The 83M6E2 command post (CP) is intended for operational control of multichannel SAM system S-300 PMU, S-300 PMU1. S-300 PMU2, S-200DE and S-200VE and cooperation among SAM system groupings and with higher command. The 83M6E2 is a highly mobile automated control aid providing the above SAM systems with designation of targets including modem and future aircraft, cruise missiles, ballistic targets and other air attack means over the entire range of there practical employment, cooperation between SAM systems (also under intensive jamming conditions). To control the SAM systems, the 83M6E2 uses its own radar data and data received from the controlled SAM systems, as well as information derived from higher control aids, electronic reconnaissance troops and neighbouring SAM systems groupings. "I know that yesterday through your political influence and effort a very important contract for us was signed that will keep one of our plants busy for at least two years," Grodetsky said, RIA-Novosti reported. Neither he nor Putin specified what weapons Libya intended to purchase. Interfax quoted a military-diplomatic source as saying Libya was prepared to buy about 20 fighter planes and S-300PMU2 air defense systems. The agency said Tuesday that Libya might also buy T-90S tanks and modernize more than 140 T-72 tanks and other weapons. The deal was signed after talks with Libyan Defense Minister Major General Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr earlier this week in Moscow.
DTN News: First Stealth Fighter Makes Test Flight *Source: DTN News / The Moscow Times By Alex Anishyuk 01 February 2010 (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - February 1, 2010: A prototype of Russia’s first stealth fighter successfully completed its long-delayed maiden flight Friday, receiving a warm welcome from government officials who hope that the jet will become a new centerpiece for its aging air fleet.A television image of Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK FA during its maiden flight Friday. The flight is also welcome news for the country’s military industry, which is struggling to develop technologies not based on Soviet designs. The military’s 13th test of its new Bulava intercontinental missile failed in December, resulting in a bizarre and much-publicized light show over northern Norway. The successful test of the T-50 PAK FA fighter, made by state-run Sukhoi, comes amid a spate of crashes involving the company’s aging Su-27, which are often blamed on human error. But concerns remain over the new plane’s engine, being developed by NPO Saturn, and military analysts say commercial production is still at least eight years off. Pilots should begin training on the T-50 at a facility in Lipetsk as soon as 2013, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told a government meeting Friday. Mass production should begin in 2015. “It’s a remarkable event,” Putin said, while acknowledging that the fighter, and particularly its engine, still needed work. “I am personally following it.” Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who oversees the military-industrial complex in the government, praised the jet as “unique” during the meeting. “This jet is equipped with a radically new avionics complex, with an integrated ‘electronic pilot’ function and promising radio detection and ranging equipment with a phased-beam array,” he said. The plane took off from a test range at the production facility in the far eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and flew for 47 minutes, piloted by Sergei Bogdan, Sukhoi said in a statement. “We’ve conducted an initial evaluation of the aircraft controllability, engine performance and primary systems operation. The aircraft had retracted and extracted the landing gear. The aircraft performed excellently at all flight-test points scheduled,” pilot Sergei Bogdan said in the statement. “It is easy and comfortable to pilot.” A source in Komsomolsk-on-Amur told Interfax that the T-50 had lowered and raised its landing gear twice during the flight, which “the American F-35 fifth-generation jet couldn’t do” on its test flight. But the success comes well behind those of its U.S. competition. Sukhoi won a tender to build the T-50 in 2002, replacing similar projects to build a fifth-generation jet fighter that had been discussed since the late 1980s. The jet will have a speed of 2,000 kilometers per hour and a range of up to 5,500 kilometers, according to Sukhoi. The T-50 is intended as a rival to the U.S. military’s F-22A Raptor, the world’s only fifth-generation jet in service. The F-22A, produced by Lockheed Martin and partner Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, first flew in 1997 and entered service in the U.S. Air Force in 2005. “This is a great success of both Russian science and design school. This achievement rests upon a cooperation team comprised of more than a hundred of our suppliers and strategic partners,” Sukhoi chief Mikhail Pogosyan said in the statement.Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK FA fifth-generation fighter jet landing at a test airfield near Komsomolsk-on-Amur on Thursday. He said the plane — along with its fourth-generation fighters — would “define Russian Air Force potential” for decades to come. “Sukhoi plans to further elaborate on the PAK FA program, which will involve our Indian partners. I am strongly convinced that our joint project will excel against its Western rivals in cost-effectiveness and will … gain a significant share of the world market,” Pogosyan said. Russia intends to increase spending on military equipment by 8 percent to 1.17 trillion rubles ($38.5 billion) in 2010, Putin said last month. Arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport said Thursday that sales of planes and helicopters comprised half of its exports last year, with India remaining its largest client. Analysts were skeptical, however, that Sukhoi would be able to deliver the jet on time, as testing could take years and concerns regarding the engine remain. “Taking into consideration … the promise by Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin to freeze state spending in real figures beginning from the 2011 budget, it is hardly possible that the PAK FA will join military units earlier than 2018 to 2020,” Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow-based defense research company, told Kommersant on Saturday. Konstantin Makiyenko, editor of the Moscow Defense Brief magazine, said in an interview with Moskovsky Komsomolets that testing would take another five to seven years, by which time the engine will be ready. “The prototype of the fifth-generation jet fighter is equipped with engines of a transitional generation and does not carry a radar with an active beam array,” he said. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its massive military budget brought hard times on the military sector, although Rosoboronexport says its revenue has risen 2.4 times since it was established by then-President Putin in 2001. The Su-27, a mainstay of the Russian military, was put into service in 1984 and has had a number of high-profile crashes in recent years. The jets were grounded most recently after a crash in the Khabarovsk region on Jan. 14, killing the pilot. A government investigation was concluded Saturday and found that “human error” was the main cause, a source in the investigation team told RIA-Novosti. Human error was also announced as the official cause of a midair collision of two Su-27 fighters during rehearsals for the MAKS air show in August 2009, which killed Russian Knights pilot Igor Tkachenko and a woman on the ground. Tkachenko wrote in a defense industry publication in 2005 that his flying team was being forced to use planes that “could not be used by combat forces” because of mechanical problems. Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK FA fifth-generation fighter jet maiden flight, a success ~ VIDEO The military uses human error to mask the problems that the Air Force is facing, an aviation expert close to air crash investigations told The Moscow Times. He did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. “Of course, it is both the low quality of jet maintenance and the errors of pilots that cause crashes all over the world,” he said. “But this ‘human error’ in Russian military aviation has very obvious causes, like poorly trained pilots, their low motivation, the low prestige of service and their low income — none of which the authorities like to talk about.” The source said political reasons often prevail over professional ones in Russian air-crash investigations. “Often you may hear in TV reports, moments after the crash, that a criminal case was opened into violations of Article 352 of the Criminal Code, the violation of flight rules,” he said. “It looks like the authorities know from the start what exactly happened but don’t want to talk about technical details that are uncomfortable.”