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What the Experts Think

Russia’s PAK DA Stealth Bomber ‘Will Never Fly’, U.S. Defense Officials

PAK DA
PAK DA. Image Credit: Artist Rendition/Creative Commons.

A Senior U.S. Defense Department official speaking to 19FortyFive claimed that Russia’s planned new stealth bomber, the PAK DA, “will never fly.” A second DoD official backed up that statement, claiming that Moscow likely does not have “the resources, technological base, expertise and of course the money needed to build anything like a stealth bomber for the foreseeable future.”

PAK DA: The U.S. Military Has Doubts

While not wanting to get into specific details for a fear of revealing sources and intelligence-gathering methods, U.S. Defense Department officials clearly have serious doubts about the PAK DA, with one official being so bold to state that the bomber “looks really good in those social media posts and artist renderings I see on defense sites around the internet, however, that plane is going to stay where it is: on the drawing board.”

What Is the PAK DA?

The PAK DA is the Russian Air Force’s attempt to build a long-range strategic bomber with stealth capabilities.

An August report coming out of Russian state media site TASS claimed a source noted that PAK DA would “be armed with hypersonic weapons,” and that “its flight will be aided by drones.”

The same report, citing the same source, also claimed that by 2023 an “experimental” or “demonstration model” would be ready by sometime next year.

More recent reporting by the EurAsian Times explained that Russia was hard at work developing new engines for the PAK DA and that “results of the tests showed that the engine conformed to the design parameters.”

Will PAK DA Fly? What the Experts Told 19FortyFive

Dr. Robert Farley, Senior Lecturer at the University of Kentucky: “I will say that the Russian aviation industry is facing some critical challenges at the moment, on the one hand needing to replace losses incurred in Ukraine and on the other hand needing to re-source advanced components that can no longer be imported from abroad. The PAK DA may not be at the top of Russia’s aviation acquisition priorities for the foreseeable future.”

Dr. Adam Lowther, Director of Strategic Deterrence Programs at the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska, U.S. Strategic Command’s University Affiliated Research Center: “It is not a question of if the PAK DA will fly. It will fly. What is inside that aircraft is the real question. Will it be 20, 50, 80, or 100 percent the equal of American stealth fighters is the question.”

John Veneable, Senior Fellow, Heritage Foundation: “The Russians were the first to put a man in space, and the first to develop and fly a supersonic transport aircraft (the Tupolev Tu-144). The origins of U.S. stealth technology were based on a brilliant Russian physicist’s concepts and mathematical equations.  

It is the height of arrogance to believe that Tupolev is incapable of developing a stealth bomber, much less to think that it will never fly. The question is when, and how successful the program will be once it takes to the air.” 

Artist Renderings

PAK DA

PAK DA stealth bomber. Image Credit: Artist Render.

PAK-DA

PAK-DA possible image. Image Credit: Yandex.

PAK DA

PAK DA stealth bomber. Image Credit: Russian Social Media.

PAK DA

Computer rendering of what could be Russia’s PAK DA stealth bomber. Image Credit: Russian Social Media.

PAK DA

Image Credit: Russian Social Media.

PAK DA

Image: Artist rendition. Image Credit: Russian Social Media.

Expert Biography: Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank, and Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and Pacific Forum. Kazianis has also worked as a defense journalist, serving as Editor-In-Chief of the Diplomat and Executive Editor of The National Interest. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree focusing on International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of the book The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization.


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Written By

Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar task force in the John Hay Initiative. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Rick

    November 2, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    Are you saying chips from stolen wash machines are not high tech? ROTFL

    Pootie is just about done and will soon meet the pavement from a 6 story fall.

    Tamerlane, just wondering if pootie helps sell conscripts into gay prostitution or does he have an affinity for using their services?

  2. Fred Adams

    November 2, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    Have we ever confirmed real stealth capabilities in a Russian or Chinese warcraft ? Just a question from an interested reader.

    The extremely high degree of control over minute deviations in manufacture and maintenance of surface sealant materials is very difficult to achieve, fitting and surface tolerances down to a ten-thousandth of an inch. Can the Russian aero worker attain the skill and dedication necessary to achieve real stealth? Can the on-the-line Russian military technician bring the high skill needed to maintain these polished surfaces ?

    Peter the Great thought that Russia needed German citizens to attain a “modern” economy. There’s probably no real difference in potential capability between a Russian and a Westerner, but the Russian has been hampered in his development for centuries by an autocratic and totalitarian government and its denial of opportunity. They’ve killed ambition, and ambition is the source of performance. Russians have ever been brave, courageous, and willing to die in the defense of their country, but remember General Patton’s call: “don’t die for your country, make the other poor SOB die for his.”

    • dave

      November 3, 2022 at 2:45 pm

      General Patton’s call: “don’t die for your country, make the other poor SOB die for his.”
      Bingo!
      Russia will never be able to do what the United States can do. They are brave but incompetent when it comes to technology. Putin riding bare chested on a horse proves both of my latter statements.

  3. Christophe

    November 2, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    Russia has been unable to build a simple modern tank such as the so-called armata, which was not even close to cutting edge technology. Same thing with aircraft carrier. Same thing with drones. Even unable to renew its stock of ammunition and missiles. I would assume that Russia is very unlikely to build a modern aircraft.

    • Raik W.

      November 3, 2022 at 10:10 am

      Mister Christoph: Funny your opinion, what have the weapons you praise in return achieved in Syria, Iraq or more specifically Afghanistan? Except make everything flat and then steheln of it not really what special or? But let’s come to the weapons, what about hypersonic, what about the Belgograd and its Poseidon torpedoes?
      Finally, a simple question: Does every US soldier fighting outside the US know who or what he is fighting for? Do soldiers of any army or country who go to war outside their homeland know what they are fighting for?

  4. 403Forbidden

    November 2, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    Mr Kazianis, stealth bombers are yesterday’s poop. No joking. The Nazis even had their stealth bomber or tarnkappenbomber, the Horten ho 229. Way, way way back in the forties or about eighty years ago. About same time old joe was about to enter the place.

    The next war or ww3 shall employ nukes and USA has prepped itself for this war, from implementing above top secret op plans to wipe out rivals’ silo fields in a first strike to global bmd systems designed to stop retaliatory missile flights.

    So, to hit back, rivals’ like Russia must abandon yesterday’s poop and concentrate or focus on tomorrow’s morning servings which are space-based nuke delivery systems. Not pak da.

    Space-based systems constantly travel or ‘fly’ around at >20,000kph unlike stealth bombers which are subsonic and, moreover, their bases are watched over night and day by spy satellites.

    • AJP1960

      November 3, 2022 at 2:42 pm

      I don’t know what weapons will be used in World War III but I do know that, if anyone survives, WW4 will be fought with sticks and stones

  5. Jacksonian Libertarian

    November 2, 2022 at 3:47 pm

    If it’s true that recent reports of Putin having pancreatic cancer, then he will be dead within 3 months.

    The Russian military industrial complex is unlikely to ever recover from the defeat of its weapons in Ukraine by Western smart weapons, crushing foreign weapons sales, and leaving Russia as its only customer.

  6. Rich

    November 2, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    Even assuming they can overcome the technical and developmental difficulties, which is a big assumption, Russia simply doesn’t have the economic resources to produce any meaningful number of these aircraft. Especially now that their conventional inventory has been depleted and will be competing for funding in an economy hobbled by sanctions. One must ask the question of whether a squadron of stealth bombers that will likely never be used, is more important than reforming and refitting conventional forces destroyed in Ukraine.

  7. Travis R

    November 2, 2022 at 8:27 pm

    If not for Russia, Europe would be ruled by Nazis.

    • Brian Foley

      November 3, 2022 at 12:25 pm

      If not for Russia there would be no NATO

  8. ATM

    November 3, 2022 at 9:08 am

    My guess is they will never make it. Passive radar makes stealth obsolete and they are good at that.

  9. Wayne Arrington

    November 3, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    Russia does not have enough money to feed or pay or properly clothe and equip its army in the field. It can’t build more than a handful of the magical Armata tanks. It is importing drones and missiles from Iran. Iran. Russia is buying artillery rounds and Grad rockets from North Korea. Russian soldiers post on social media about the wonders of indoor plumbing in Ukrainian homes. We all assume the looting of Ukrainian washing machines was to send home to the parents. Maybe it is to harvest the chips so that they can be re-purposed and used in this new stealth bomber.

  10. Brian Foley

    November 3, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    When the Soviet Union collapsed there was a period when the new Russian Federation had the opportunity to “go modern”. Sadly, the Russian chose to go “Gangster” and now has gone full circle back to a revised form of Soviet doctrine. Unfortunately for Russia, the Soviet system just won’t work in a modern era. So Russia is left clinging to a former glory that holds it back from advancing with the rest of the world and is instead finding itself “swimming upstream” against the current of modern change. This has left the Russians with an outdated mind set and outdated technologies.

  11. Bernd

    November 3, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    LOL I’m seeing a lot of poor, misinformed individuals stating that Russia can’t build anything like this. Funny thing is, yeah….they’ve already built the engines for these types of planes (and rockets), have the resources for the structure, and electronics isn’t an issue either. Remember, one of Russia’s strong points is building high tech airplanes, submarines, and spacecraft. Let the US keep building washing machines and vacuum cleaner robots.

  12. ton

    November 3, 2022 at 2:42 pm

    first to develop and fly a supersonic transport aircraft (the Tupolev Tu-144)

    which was based on stolen 1st gen design plans for concorde, tests showed it to be a bad design so it was changed, engine bay etc, but by that time spies had already stolen everything

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