Russia's first indigenously designed and built fifth-generation stealth fighter, the Su-57, has started flights with the most advanced air-launched weaponry on its board, local media reports.

"Tense work is underway. The entire set of precision weapons for this aircraft, both inside the fuselage and on an external sling, is being developed by the Corporation’s enterprises. We have switched to practical flights and I believe that we will see the result in the imminent future," Tactical Missiles Corporation CEO Boris Obnosov said in an interview with the TASS-published Bulletin of Military and Technical Cooperation.

According to the Corporation’s chief executive, the protocols of information interoperability with almost all types of weapons have been agreed. "The basic work, i.e. launches, is forthcoming," the chief executive said.

The Russian fifth-generation Perspective Aviation Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK FA, also known as the T-50) fighter jet took to the skies for the first time in 2010. And the fighter performed its first flight with a new engine on December 5 last year.

Currently, the so-called first stage engine 117S is mounted on the Russian fighter. A new engine has not yet received its name and is conventionally designated as "the second stage engine."

It was reported earlier that Russia’s T-50 (PAK FA) fifth-generation fighter jet had received the serial index of Su-57. The experimental design work on the most advanced fighter jet should be completed in 2019 and its deliveries to the troops should begin at that time. As United Aircraft Corporation CEO Slyusar said, the pre-production batch will consist of 12 such planes.

It is worthy to note that India is extremely unhappy with Russia's 5th generation fighter—better known as the T-50, or by its new production name the Su-57—that will act as the base for the sputtering FGFA cooperative fighter program between the two countries. The news comes after years of squabbling over the program, usually characterized by credible reports of the Indian Air Force's dismay with the qualities of the Russian aircraft. Now it seems as if the Indians want out of the program—which aimed for at least a 108 airframe production run—once and for all. Such a move could also be a result of New Delhi's changing geopolitical and military affiliations, in particular its deepening strategic relationship with the United States.

The Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project between Sukhoi and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is a decade old. It originally aimed to create a variant of Russia's new stealth fighter with a number of alterations specified by India. These include potential enhancements to reach certain low observable (stealth) requirements, as well as particular avionics, communications systems, and weapons integration. A two seat version was also envisioned. The whole idea behind the concept being that the FGFA would leverage a fairly mature Russian next generation fighter design, and build upon it. The problem is that the design in question, the Su-57, doesn't appear to have the "bones" needed to modify it to meet India's expectations.

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