MOSCOW, RUSSIA — BulgarianMilitary.com reports that at the end of 2022, the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS] received a new version of Su-57 fighters. There were four of them and they were delivered on December 28th. Then we just mentioned the delivery. However, today we went into deeper research and it turns out that the delivered Su-57s are a new version.
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If the Russians are to be believed, which is a rather contradictory statement from our side and we do not perceive it as credible, then according to the new characteristics of the Su-57, it is hardly a sixth-generation and not a fifth-generation aircraft. Here’s what the new four Su-57s delivered in December have in contrast to the previous aircraft.
It was known, we have also often said that, for the Su-57 to reach the level of a fifth-generation aircraft, it must have new engines. Russian sources claim that this new Saturn Izdelie 30 engine is already installed in these four fighters. This means that the Su-57 will fly at Mach 2.5-2.3, even a little more. The new engine improves the speed of the aircraft.
Saturn Izdelie 30 means a higher flight height of the Su-57 and a greater radius of action and adaptation. However, not only the engine is new. The Russians claim that the four Su-57s received new AESA radars with suppressors. This means that the new Su-57 radars will attack and/or disable the electronics of enemy fighters.
The four Su-57s, the Russians claim, have integrated photon radars. We encountered a bit of complexity to discover more information about photon radars. What we found again comes from a Russian source and again we say – we don’t take it for granted or credible. But according to the Russian source, photon radars “see beyond what conventional radars currently see.”
Russians like to use the word “unique” when characterizing their product. But the more often they use it, the more often they cover up their failures. According to the Russians, the photon radar “is unique” because it has an electronic warfare system. If the radar is unique, then the system should be “unique”. I.e. this system will allow the Su-57 to intercept and neutralize the enemy more easily.
We have not been able to find the characteristics of the uniqueness of the electronic warfare system. However, again a Russian source claims that the range of the electronic warfare system’s electromagnetic weapon has been increased from 7km to 10km.
Weapons also play a big role. The four Su-57s, the Russians say, which were delivered in December, are being given the ability to carry hypersonic missiles and hypersonic munitions. In fact, this may turn out to be true, since one of the main goals of the Su-57 developers is precisely this capability. Also, there is evidence that the Su-57 has conducted several tests with the launch of a hypersonic missile.
All these “unique” characteristics define the Su-57 as a sixth-generation fighter. Whether they are true – we cannot say. We rely on information from only one side, which is very often biased regarding its military developments.
However, it is a fact that Russia will bet in the coming years on the Su-57. The Su-35 is already rumored to be phased out in the coming years. This means that Moscow will rely on the aircraft, which it has been developing for almost 20 years, before entering serial production. That Russia will rely on the Su-57 also speaks to another fact – the Komsomolsk-on-Amur plant that produces the Su-57 is undergoing deep modernization with an increase in production capacity.
Currently, the Russian Air Force operates 21 Su-57 units. They are expected to acquire between six and ten this year, according to some Russian reports. The Su-57 has already taken part in the war in Ukraine, according to senior Russian officials, including the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The participation was by launching and hitting enemy objects beyond visual range.
Whether the Su-57 is a fighter of the sixth generation or of the fifth – seems that this depends on how one perceives its product. However, there is one fact that the Russians cannot overcome at the moment – the USA and China. These two countries are producing their F-35 and J-20 at the fastest and the highest rates. For these two fighters, we can say that they are the fifth generation for sure.
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