According to publications in Russian media, citing local analysts, the Russian Su-35S Flanker-M fighters can counter the latest defense system of the American B-52H bombers. It is about the new capabilities of the American bomber to carry and use AIM-120D or AIM-260 missiles.
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Both American missiles are beyond visual range. Russian media say the Su-35S has the capabilities to counter these missiles. This is possible thanks to the greater range of Russian air-to-air missiles, which prevent the Su-35S from entering the destruction zone of American missiles.
However, it is clear from the explanations that countermeasures will be possible not due to the EW capabilities of the Su-35C or the use of its decoys, but mainly due to the range of the air-to-air missiles of the two aircraft. The fact is that the AIM-120D has a range of 100 miles [160 km], while the AIM-260 has a range of just over 120 miles [200 km].
I.e. realistically, any aircraft that has a longer-range missile than the two missiles listed can counter the bomber. The comparison of the two air combat platforms among the Russian media is quite out of place and inconsistent.
Russian analysts have in mind the Vympel R-37 missile [NATO reporting name: AA-13 Axehead]. Its reach is now impressive. This missile is actually the longest range beyond visual range missile in the world with 247 mi or 398 km. The Su-35S carries two missiles when performing a mission, with both missiles located in the central wing pylon.
The other Russian missile that can hit the American bomber from a distance and is located under the wings of the Su-35C is the Vympel NPO R-77 [NATO reporting name: AA-12 Adder]. It can be said that this is the Russian equivalent of AIM-120D. However, the range of the R-77 is slightly greater than its American competitor and is equal to nearly 190 km. The same missile is present in the arsenal of another Russian fighter – the Su-57.
In fact, the Russian media make such a comparison because of the presence of American bombers sent to Eastern Europe to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. There are B-52 bombers stationed in Lithuania and Estonia monitoring what is happening over the Baltic. Washington said earlier that the bombers in these two Baltic countries would remain indefinitely in the region.
B-52s frequently arrive in Poland [there is also a Bob Mardi Graser currently stationed there], which often takes part in exercises over the Black Sea. Of course, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, these exercises have drastically decreased, especially in the background of the downing of the MQ-9 Reaper drone by a Russian Su-27 in early March of this year.
A B-52 bomber is also stationed in Romania. It is responsible for the eastern border of the North Atlantic Alliance and the direct border with Russia – the Black Sea. This bomber is stationed at the Romanian military air base in Fetesti.
One of the reasons why Russia is comparing an air superiority fighter to a non-stealth bomber is the news that Washington has no intention of retiring the B-52 anytime soon, but rather is expanding its capabilities. BulgarianMilitary.com already reported just days ago that Washington plans to replace the outdated 60-year-old B-52 radars with much more modern AESA radars.
The new B-52 radars will actually improve the B-52’s navigational capabilities and targeting capabilities in higher-threat areas. The B-52 currently operates the AN/APG-166 radar. It is expected to be replaced by the AN/APG-79/82 AESA, which was developed for the US F-15E fighter. This radar is said to be significantly improved over its previous variants and is expected to have more than 20 times the APG-70 system reliability.
Comparing the radar capabilities of the Su-35 and B-52, the Su-35S also has excellent radar. The Ibris-E triple radar detects enemy targets at a distance of 350 km. Ibris-E can track up to 30 targets at the same time, but in attack mode by activating the weapons under the wings of the Su-35S, it can deal with eight of them.
The Ibris-E was developed based on the N011M Bars radar, which is integrated into another Russian fighter – the Su-30MKI. This is quite interesting as the MKI version is specially designed for India. However, both radars [Ibris-E and Bars] are PESA radars, which means that, unlike AESA, they will need more power to cool while operating in flight.
Although such a comparison is inappropriate, it is necessary, because at some point Ukraine may receive an ИМ-120D or AIM-260 that perfectly fits the hard points under the wings of the Su-24 bomber. Of course, such integration will require many hours of work and the replacement of a part of the avionics of the bomber, but the war in Ukraine has shown that, at least for now, nothing is impossible.
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