Russia and Brazil have agreed to jointly develop satellite launchers and
a 5th generation jet fighter. Brazil has its own military aircraft industry,
but the aircraft produced are generally low tech. Brazil also has satellite
launching facilities. Since Brazil is on the equator, where the planet is
spinning the fastest, it's a little cheaper to lift satellites into orbit. This
deal appears to be mainly to attract money, subcontractors and customers for the
Russian 5th generation fighter.
A year ago
Russia and India agreed to collaborate
on developing a fighter that can match the 5th Generation American F-22.
When the Cold War ended in 1991, both the United States and Russia had already
spent a decade working on designs for a "5th Generation Fighter." The Cold War
ended because the Soviet Union had bankrupted itself trying to sustain an arms
race it began in the 1960s. That meant a halt to work on a Russian 5th
Generation Fighter. But the U.S. effort continued, and the F-22 was the result.
Costing about $350 million each (development and production costs), the F-22 is
the most expensive, as well as the most capable, fighter aircraft ever.
Russians believe that, by being second, they can produce a fighter that matches
the F-22 in capability, but costs far less. This will be a result of lower
development costs. Some $70 billion was spent to develop the F-22. Many
technologies in the F-22 can be stolen by the Russians, and other can be
deduced (avoiding a lot of development trial and error, because you know
something works). Russia also has some new tech that was developed near the end
of the Cold War, but never put to use. Thus the new Russian fighter can be
produced at, say, about a third the cost of the F-22, and far more would be
built. In addition, the Russians are eager for export sales. The U.S. refuses
(despite intense pressure from Israel and Japan) to export the F-22, leaving a
large market for a competing fighter.
Russians, Brazilians and Indians pull it off? It's not a sure thing. Russia
developed some impressive fighters towards the end of the Cold War, and have
kept a lot of their development teams together in the last seventeen years.
This was done at great cost, because Russian fighter aircraft sales have only
kicked into high gear over the past few years. So the Russians have the
capability. The Indians and Brazilians are looking to upgrade their weapons
development capabilities. The Russians can help. The Indian and Brazilian cooperation brings
in more cash, and more export customers.
fighter might be closer to the F-35, than the F-22, in capabilities. But if the
selling price is right, the market is there. If development costs get out of
control, the effort will lose money. But the capability to develop a
competitive fighter exists. The Russians
want to have the first flight test by next year. The first flight of the F-22
took place in 1991, but it was another fourteen years before the aircraft
As for the
satellite launching side of the Brazilian deal, the Russians would benefit by
moving some of their satellite launching work from the cold Russian north, to a
tropical site in Brazil. No details were released on how this part of the deal
would work, which indicates more haggling is due. The Russian space operations
side of this deal is more of a sure thing than building F-22ski components in