With the T-50, Russian jet fighters are back ... and it's none too soon

By John Keller

Posted by John Keller

Ah, I'm so relieved that things are getting back to normal. I spent my formative years enraptured with the thrill of drop drills ('duck and cover;' remember that?) strategic missile gaps, the space race, submarine cat-and-mouse, missiles in Cuba, and other delights of the Cold War.

God, how I loved it when I heard Ronald Reagan refer to the 'Evil Empire." There were periods of my young professional life when I couldn't WAIT for the Pentagon's annual edition of Soviet Military Power , which absolutely terrified the bejusus out of anyone who picked it up.

Supersonic bombers, missile submarines as long as the Empire State Building, intercontinental and short-range nuclear ballistic missiles, scary special forces commandos, main battle tanks with guns so big they looked like just came off the USS New Jersey -- and all pointed straight at us! It was enough to make the sweat pop out on my upper lip every time I even glanced at that publication on the bookshelf.

It was us versus the Russians. You could count on it, it was predictable; heck, it was even a comfort. Those were the days, podna.

But then the Soviet Union collapsed, and I thought the fun was all done forever. When the U.S. and Russia started getting friendly, all of a sudden it was as if the Lakers and the Celtics had joined in a great big group hug. Not only was it kind of yucky, but it just didn't feel right. I mean, some things are just meant to be, right?

The Global War on Terror has been long, nasty, and exhausting. Far worse, there's no arms race. The terrorists don't parade their guns, tanks, and missiles through Red Square. We have to content ourselves with rapid advances in IED detection technology, and that's just not the same as seeing a shiny new Russian guided missile cruiser every couple of years.

But now things seem to be turning around. I'm reading lately about the new Russian Sukhoi T-50 jet fighter , and things are starting to feel comfortable again. The T-50 fighter, which should be deployed in 2015, is Russia's answer to the U.S. F-22 Raptor advanced tactical fighter. Both planes are useless as paperweights in the War on Terror, but man, do they look slick!

Now for the best part: we finally have two teams on the field again. There's trash-talk, and everything! Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stood beside a T-50 fighter yesterday and said this: "This machine will be superior to our main competitor, the F-22, in terms of maneuverability, weaponry, and range," Music to my ears.

Sounds like we're all back in the saddle again ... right where we belong.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

February 2014
Volume 25, Issue 2
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