Russia’s prototype fifth-generation Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet has carried out its first independent long-range flight, according to a tweet by Dmitry Rogozin, the country’s deputy prime minister.

A derivative of the stealth fighter is being developed for the Indian air force.

“This is a major breakthrough! Machine broke 7,000 miles, making the road to the capital (Moscow) with two landings, one in Abakan and another in Chelyabinsk,” Rogozin says. The aircraft was fully equipped with the latest avionics, surveillance and attack systems, he adds.

Sukhoi has been evaluating three fifth-generation fighter jets, which have performed around 200 test flights. The long-range flight of the aircraft, also known as PAK FA, was conducted on Jan. 17. It joined the three other T-50 prototype models at the Zhukovsky airfield outside Moscow. State flight tests are scheduled to start in March.

“The flight of the aircraft was performed for the first time with several intermediate stops from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, production location of these aircraft at the Y.A. Gagarin (KnAAZ) aviation plant. . . . The aircraft performed well during the flight. There were no [problems with] the performance of engines, systems or equipment,” Sukhoi says in a statement.

The first flight of the T-50-4 took place at the Dzemgi airfield of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur complex on Dec. 12 and lasted 40 min. The flight was in full accordance with the flight plan, Sukhoi says.

The first flight of the T-50 fighter took place on Jan. 29, 2010.

“At present, the work is ongoing on a whole range of ground and flight tests of three aircraft. Soon the T-50-4 fighter will join the tests. To date, more than 200 flights have been carried out under the flight test program,” Sukhoi says.

According to Russian News & Information Agency RIA Novosti, the defense ministry is planning to finish the state flight tests of eight prototypes by 2015 so that they can begin standard production in 2016.

The PAK FA T-50 stealth jet fighter, first displayed at the 2011 MAKS airshow, features an electronically scanned active-array radar, super-cruise capability, high maneuverability, and low radar and infrared signatures. Sukhoi contends the aircraft will perform significantly better than the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

India plans to acquire 214 of the T-50 fighters, customized to suit its requriements, by the end of 2030 at an estimated cost of more than $30 billion.

During a visit to India last October,  Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov said India will begin production of an export variant of the T-50 stealth fighter in 2020. India and Russia are likely to sign a$11 billion contract soon for the design and joint development, with the costs equally borne by the two countries.

 “The two nations discussed the progress made in the joint development and production of the [fifth-generation fighter aircraft] during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India last December,” an Indian defense official says.

The first prototype is expected to be delivered in 2014. Its production in India is likely to start in 2020, the official adds.

T-50 photo: Sukhoi