Su-57 Felon sends up to four S-70 UCAVs at a distance of 1,500 km

The Russian Su-57 Felon stealth fighter will be capable of dispatching and controlling four unmanned combat aerial vehicles [UCAVs]. They [the UCAVs] will be the S-70 Okhotnik model and the distance to which the Su-57 will have control over them will be up to 1,500 km. This means that The Felon will penetrate deep into areas controlled by enemy aviation or air defenses. At the same time, the S-57 will remain in a safe zone from actual combat operations.

The Combination of UAV S-70 and Su-57 Turns the Latter Into a Fighter of the 5 + Gen
Photo credit: YouTube

A similar assumption is made by the Polish website Defense 24. It is based on the previously announced news [April 21] from Rostec about the development of a new communication system for the Su-57 based on artificial intelligence. Rostec says that communication will take place at very high frequencies. The artificial intelligence of the system will code the data transfer between the participants of the battle group.

We have yet to find out if the news announced by Rostec is true or another piece of Russian propaganda. According to the Ministry of Defense of Russia, the Su-57 fighter has already participated in the special military operation” in Ukraine [this term is used by Moscow when it talks about the Russian invasion and the war in Ukraine]. According to the claims of the Kremlin, the Su-57 hit targets beyond visual range. Similar information was shared by British intelligence as well, with London confirming the deployment of five fighter jets in a Russian area near the border with Ukraine.

The Su-57’s remote participation and performance in the war may be the reason why the Russian company Poliet is developing the fighter’s new communication system more quickly. Because Moscow has been talking about it since before the war but avoided announcing its progress. As early as three years ago, it was assumed that the Su-57 would receive assistance from a drone in the air. However, for the first time, there is talk of not one, but four.

S-70 Okhotnik will fly in the perfect vacuum beyond Earth - Russia
Photo credit: TASS

The fact is that the Su-57 and S-70 have already been tested together. This combined flight took place in early October 2019. For this flight, Moscow claims that the Su-57 commanded the flight of the S-70. Around this time, claims appeared in the Russian media that in the future the Su-57 would control between two and four drones of this type.

Four S-70 UCAVs under the control of the Su-57 means that the Russian fighter will operate more drones than the NGAD and F-35. In the US, they announce that up to two drones will be able to control each of the mentioned fighters. recalls that, in addition to Russia, China also demonstrates the same capabilities. For example, in 2022, Beijing took to the air one two-seater stealth fighter of the second generation J-20 together with three combat drones GJ-11. The combined flight was recorded by photojournalists and videographers. GJ-11 can be called the equivalent of the Russian S-70.

There is speculation that Russia is benefiting from China’s advances in artificial intelligence. For this reason, it is believed that Moscow may indeed have made progress with its new AI communication system. We know that the war in Ukraine is draining a lot of resources from the Russian economy. However, Russia and China signed only a month ago historic cooperation in all spheres, but especially in military progress.

Delivery of new Su-57 stealths to the Russian VKS amid sanctions
Photo credit: UAC

Sharing expertise in the field of artificial intelligence between the two Asian countries could make another Russian defense dream come true – the S-70 operating without the intervention of an operator. There were similar claims in the Russian media years ago that this would be one of the advantages of the Russian attack drone, which would operate as a fighter. However, there are still no reports that the S-70 has reached such a level.

It can be seen that Russia needs more modern fighters. Ukraine shows it. Russia has air superiority in the air in Ukraine, not because of the combat capability of its fighters, but because of the lack of quantitative and qualitative air defense in Ukraine. The ability of the Su-57 to remotely control four attack drones at a distance of up to 1,500 km is perhaps the first step towards better Russian combat aviation.

It is important to note that according to Rostec, the new AI communication system of the Su-57 will allow compatibility with the communication systems of ground platforms and headquarters quarters. This means turning the Su-57 into not only a combat platform but also a main base for coordinating military operations. Because four S-70s at a distance of up to 1,500 km will give much more precise advance awareness to fighters in the air and to artillery and reconnaissance on the ground.

According to Rostec’s statement, AI-based technology enables noise-resistant coding through the use of parallel channels. This is the “wrap” of the technology. Its structure includes multiple interleaving of symbols, time synchronization during transfer, simultaneous data transmission in all directions [air-to-ground or air-to-air], and increasing the range of transmitted data.

Russia begins stealth S-70 Okhotnik production with flat jet nozzle
Photo credit: YouTube

It remains for Russia to find a way to increase Su-57 production. The war in Ukraine may harm previously established plans for the production of the Su-57. According to them, by 2028, 76 Su-57 fighters should enter the inventory of the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS].

Russia currently has 21 Su-57 Felon fighters. However, 10 of them are prototypes and tests, so in reality, Moscow can put in the air 11 operationally-ready fighters. As for the production of the S-70 Okhotnik, which is also delayed, Moscow is at the prototype level. However, both are working and flight-tested prototypes. However, tests both in the air and on the ground continue for the S-70.


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