New ‘super agile multipurpose fighters’ for the Russian Air Force
MOSCOW, (BM) – Russia’s state-owned aircraft construction holding UAC [United Aircraft Corporation] has handed over three brand new Su-35S to the Russian Air Force, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing FlugRevue. The trio marks the completion of an order for 50 aircraft from 2015. But supplies are already on the way.
Until the Su-57 stealth fighter is operational, the Sukhoi Su-35S will remain the best fighter aircraft in the Russian Air Force. The Su-35 is considered the crown jewel of the successful “Flanker” family, and it is not without reason that Su-35 colled the Super-Flanker. Sukhoi himself advertises the jet as a Generation 4 ++ fighter up to any opponent – except for Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor. Russia’s Air Force seems to share this impression: Sukhoi delivered 98 Su-35s to the task forces in the past ten years.
48 plus 50 plus 30
Russian Ministry of Defence signed the first order for 48 machines back in 2009 at the MAKS Avia Salon. In 2015, another order for 50 new “super flankers” followed. For the past five years, Russia’s armed forces have contracted ten new Su-35Ss a year. At the end of November, Sukhoi delivered the last three machines from this production lot in Komsomolsk am Amur. Even after that, the Su-35 production line will not stand still: In the summer of 2020, the Air Force ordered new “Super Flankers” for the third time – this time, 30 units. A clear indication that Russia’s military is very fond of the pattern.
Super agile multipurpose fighter
Technically, the “Super-Flanker” justifies its good reputation, as it trumps the older members of the Flanker family in almost all areas. Their 117S turbofans from NPO Saturn deliver 16 percent more thrust than the engines of their predecessors. Structural improvements give the Su-35S more space for fuel and service life of around 30 years. Besides, the “Super-Flanker” received modern avionics with two color monitors in the cockpit, a more powerful radar for tracking up to 30 targets simultaneously, as well as systems for electronic warfare. Western observers astonished the Su-35S at its foreign premiere in 2013 in Paris above all with its maneuverability: With thrust vector nozzles and fully digital flight control, the “Super-Flanker” makes physical laws seem like mere recommendations.
Bumpy early years
So it’s no wonder that the Su-35S represents much more to Russia than just an interim solution to the Su-57. All the more astonishing is that this attitude took hold in the armed forces late and that today’s success of the “Super-Flanker” is mainly due to their manufacturer’s patience. Up until the first order eleven years ago, Sukhoi and his suppliers had to finance some of their development work themselves. The roots of today’s Su-35 go back to the end of the Soviet Union. The prototype flew in 1985. At that time, the aircraft was still called the Su-27M and had small canards on the wing’s leading edge. However, after the collapse of the USSR, there was no money for a long time to properly honor the “Super-Flanker,” which has been trading as the Su-35 since 1992, by the state.
Nonetheless, Sukhoi continued to optimize its flagship and suffered several setbacks – until the long-awaited breakthrough came in 2009 with the official order for 48 machines. Since then, it has been impossible to imagine the Russian Air Force’s arsenal without the Su-35. And given the order situation, it should stay that way for a few more decades.
Why is the Russian Su-35 fighter jet a real threat to the US Air Force?
For much of the second half of the Cold War, American fighter jets largely had the edge. Su 27, which entered the army in 1988. significantly inferior in technical and combat characteristics to American counterparts.
However, the latest developments of Russian engineers have significantly improved the Su 27 and made it possible to create on its basis the latest aircraft with truly outstanding characteristics. It is the newest, ultra-maneuverable aircraft with one single crew member. Twin vector-thrust turbojets provide the Su-35 with agility that can easily match or exceed the evasion technique of nearly all existing fourth-generation fighters, including the F-15 Eagle, F-18, and even the F-35 Lightning II.
The Su-35’s armament includes a 30-mm GSh-30-1 automatic cannon with 150 rounds, as well as 17,630 kilograms of payload at twelve outer points. It can carry a variety of air-to-air, air-to-ground missiles, anti-radar and anti-ship missiles, as well as a range of thermal imaging, laser and satellite guided bombs. In comparison, the new American F-22 has only four hard points on the wings and three on the internal weapon bays.
These aircraft are actively purchased by China, Indonesia and Turkey, which seriously upsets the unilateral balance of power in all US-planned theaters of operations. In simple terms, the presence of such aircraft poses a serious threat to US air supremacy, even in regions where they were out of competition.
Moreover, China purchased its first 4 aircraft back in 2016, and then another ten in 2017 under a contract for twenty-four aircraft, which costs $ 2.5 billion. The Russia-China agreement also included auxiliary equipment and spare engines, with the contract due to be fully implemented this year.
After China became the first international customer for the Su-35, the United States imposed sanctions on the Asian country for violating the Sanctions Act (CAATSA), authorized by the US Congress. Last fall, Turkey also began negotiations to buy thirty-six Su-35s from Russia. The move came after Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 program and irritated its NATO allies with the purchase of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles.
Several other countries were listed as potential operators of Russian aircraft, including Algeria, Egypt, India and the United Arab Emirates. Although the Su-35 was only an intermediate link for the Russian Air Force, it has already become a competitor to the American presence in various regions.
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