Drones, delays and 6th gen jets: Russia’s UAC publishes strategy update


The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has a new strategy that offers snippets of information on Russia’s plans for development and production of new aircraft.

It outlines the company’s priorities for the three upcoming five-year plans: between 2020 and 2025, 2025 and 2030, and 2030 and 2035. 

According to the document, the main priority of 2020 to 2025 period is the serial production of the MC-21 narrow-body airliner, the Il-114 regional turboprop, the business jet versions of the MC-21 and Superjet 100, as well as several military aircraft: the Su-57 fighter jet, modernized Yak-130 trainer, Il-76 and Il-112 transports, and Tu-160 strategic bomber.

Previous iteration of the strategy, published in 2016, included several other civilian aircraft that were expected to be mass-produced in the same period, including the Il-96-400M and the CRAIC CR-929 wide-body airliners. The commercial version of the Il-96-400M was cancelled in April 2021, while disagreements between Russia and China resulted in the production of the CR-929 being delayed to 2025.

The 2016 strategy also included scientific research that would precede the development of a prospective light/medium fighter jet (PLIB), a prospective long-range interceptor (PAK DP), and a 6th generation fighter aircraft before 2025. Those entries are no longer present in the new strategy outline for the upcoming period. 

The 2025-2030 period contains the following priorities: production of new commercial and cargo aircraft (presumably, the CR-929), as well as the research and development of next generation combat aircraft and new kinds of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). 

This may mean that the PAK DP, popularly known as the MiG-41, is no longer in the plans. The development of the Russian 6th generation fighter jet got delayed as well, while more attention is given to UAVs. Just recently, the first delivery of the S-70 combat drone was moved to 2024, highlighting this trend.

The 2030-2035 period, according to the document, is going to see mass production of a new light/medium fighter jet – which may or may not be the recently-revealed Sukhoi Checkmate – as well as further development of the Su-57 and various UAVs. According to the strategy, these steps, together with the development of new kinds of tactical, transport and strategic aircraft will turn Russia into one of the world leaders in the aviation industry.

The outline of the strategy was published on August 10, 2021 by Russian business newspaper Upravlenye Proizvodstvom. As of August 11, the strategy on UAC’s website is not updated, and the full text of the strategy is not published. 

UAC, itself a subsidiary of state-owned corporation Rostec, owns all the major Russian aircraft manufacturers, including Sukhoi, MiG, Irkut, Tupolev, Yakovlev and others

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