The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) has announced that it will take delivery of its first five Sukhoi T-50 PAKFA fifth-generation fighters later this year.
Although the VKS did not specify in its announcement on 6 January when in 2017 the transfer will take place, the move will mark the end of the company trials programme for the aircraft, and the beginning of the two-stage state-joint trials programme.
In the first stage, the industry pilots that have been flying the T-50 thus far will train a cadre of military pilots on the aircraft, with the second stage of test programme flights being conducted entirely by these VKS pilots.
Current flight testing by Sukhoi of the initial T-50 aircraft has been conducted at the Gromov Flight Research Institute (LII) in Zhukovskiy. According to Russian specialists familiar with the process, these five T-50s will now be transferred to the Chkalov VKS State Flight Test Centre base No. 929 at Akhtubinsk for the joint-state trials programme.
Transfer to the VKS is also a marker for the next stage of the contract for the T-50 and the process of moving to series production of the aircraft.
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