PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – For almost two years, we and other media worldwide have been continuously writing about the Russian Su-57 fighter jet. We can say that we have traced its ups and downs. At the end of 2020, just after the Christmas holidays, the Russian Southern Military District received its long-awaited Christmas present – the first mass-produced Su-57 fighter. The manufacturer expects to produce four or five more fighter jets this year [2021 – ed.].
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What we know so far is this – Russia has ordered 86 units of the new Russian fighter. The fighter with a stage one engine is already delivered, and from 2022 the deliveries of fighters from a step two engine will start. By the end of 2024, Russia should have at least 22 Su-57 fighters produced and already in operation.
What is the Russian Su-57 ‘criminal’ fighter?
The Sukhoi Su-57 has already received its NATO designation – Felon. The Su-57 is a single-seater twin-engine fighter. This fighter is super maneuverable, which should not surprise us, as the Russians are superior to their opponents. This aircraft is designing to gain air superiority. I think most of you will agree there will be no one to stand up to Su-57 in a direct dogfight.
The fighter’s Russian technical documents say it has two engines, stealth coverage, and advanced avionics. The fighter is capable of developing supersonic cruising speed. Some experts claim that the Su-57 has an integrated unique radar system. This system is located all over his body. Something that distinguishes the Su-57 from all other fighters in the world at the moment is the targeted infrared countermeasures system (DIRCM). Military experts say it is one of a kind and only the Su-57 has it. The Su-57 has protection against guided missiles with infrared guidance.
The armament of the Su-57 is also impressive. Equipped as standard with missiles that every fighter in the world has, the Su-57 is preparing to deliver hypersonic missiles. The Su-57 also took part in the battle. Russian Defense Ministry sources claim that the Su-57 has successfully passed combat tests in Syria. We also wrote about this last year.
It was the presence of the Su-57 in Syria that provoked severe discussions around the world. Mostly in a fascinating fact – the radars did not detect the planes in the air, and the world found out about them only when Su-57s landed at the Russian airbase Kmeinin in Syria. However, this fighter had its failures during its development – problems with stealth technology, avionics, engine. But the biggest was in 2019 when the prototype of the Su-57 crashed during one of its last tests.
4th or 5th generation is the Su-57?
The Su-57 is a milestone in the future of the Russian military industry. The Russians have bet almost everything on its development. That is why its competitors must correctly identify this aircraft.
China, for example, continues to claim that the Su-57 is a 4 ++ generation fighter. The United States also claims that this fighter is not yet the 5th generation. Russia insists on being described as a fifth-generation fighter.
What makes a fighter a fifth-generation aircraft? There are two leading indicators – the engine and avionics. Stealth technology was a determining factor at the beginning of its development. Today, not only the United States and Russia, but also Europe, South Korea, China, India, Japan, Turkey, and even Pakistan can construct and use stealth technology.
As mentioned above in the article, sometime around the middle and end of 2022, Russia will receive its first Su-57 fighters with a second-generation engine. The long-awaited Product 30 is not ready yet. The Russians claim to have made progress, and the Su-57 is equipping with this type of engine. But China’s refusal to use Russian engines for its fighter jets, and Beijing’s desire to develop its versions of their planes, says otherwise. The situation is precisely the same with India – a country ready to bet on the Su-57 but gave up.
The Russians currently advertise the Su-57 as a fighter with an absolute azimuth, i.e., 360-degree sensitive capacity. So far, we know that such technology is integrated only on American F-35 fighters. There is no confirmed information that the Su-57 has a full set of sensitive azimuth sensors. This technology is advanced avionics, and Russian R&D has not yet reached its development. Different messages from different institutes say that they are close to its development, but close does not mean ready.
Can the Su-57 counter the F-22?
In principle, any Russian fighter can counter the American F-22. When we talk about close combat, we will mention again that no fighter in the world is more maneuverable than any Russian fighter. Only the Swedish Gripen of Saab is approaching the Russians in maneuverability, but not enough. Gripen is still far from being measured by this indicator.
We chose to compare the Su-57 to the F-22, not the F-35, because although the F-22 program is no longer exists, it remains the best stealth fighter in the United States.
The Su-57 is designing to fight the F-22. The Su-57 can cover all the performance of the F-22 and, in some parts, overtake it. Maneuverability, armament, stealth technology, counter-electronic warfare, infrared targeting, and AESA radar suggest that the Russians have made an aircraft that would handle both the F-22 and the F-35.
But one part of the task remains unknown – the human factor. The pilot can answer this question. Man controls the machine and makes decisions, just like a man who shot down an American F-117 invisible plane during Serbia’s war.
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