Stealth technology has become a game-changer in modern aerial warfare, and with Russia’s Su-57 and the U.S.’s F-35 stealth fighters leading the pack, many are left wondering: Can the Su-57’s radar really detect an F-35?
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In this thrilling article, we’ll dive deep into the world of radar technology, exploring the principles of operation for both the Su-57 and F-35 radars, and whether interception is possible between these cutting-edge jets. Moreover, we’ll analyze the distance at which their radars can detect stealth fighters.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
N036 Byelka radar
The radar of the Su-57 is known as the N036 Byelka radar system. It is an active electronically scanned array [AESA] radar that operates in the X-band frequency range. AESA radars are known for their ability to provide high-resolution images and track multiple targets simultaneously. The N036 Byelka radar system is capable of detecting and tracking targets at long ranges, including stealth aircraft.
The Su-57’s radar system uses a combination of electronic scanning and beamforming to detect and track targets. Electronic scanning allows the radar to quickly scan a wide area and track multiple targets simultaneously. Beamforming allows the radar to focus its energy on a specific target, which improves its ability to detect and track that target.
The N036 Byelka radar system also incorporates advanced signal processing techniques, which help to reduce clutter and improve the radar’s ability to detect and track low-observable targets, such as the F-35 stealth fighter.
The F-35’s radar system is known as the AN/APG-81. It is an active electronically scanned array [AESA] radar system that operates in the X-band frequency range. AESA radars use a large number of small transmit/receive modules to electronically steer the radar beam, providing a faster and more precise scan than traditional mechanically scanned radar systems.
The AN/APG-81 radar has a range of over 120 miles and can track multiple targets simultaneously. It is also capable of detecting and tracking small, low-observable targets such as stealth aircraft.
In addition to its radar capabilities, the F-35 also has a suite of other sensors and systems that allow it to detect and track enemy aircraft, including an infrared search and track [IRST] system and an electronic warfare [EW] suite.
Can F-35 detect a Su-57 fighter?
The F-35’s radar, the AN/APG-81, is a highly advanced AESA radar system that is designed to detect and track a wide range of targets, including other aircraft. However, the radar’s effectiveness against stealth aircraft such as the Su-57 is limited due to the latter’s low radar cross-section [RCS] and advanced stealth features.
Despite this, the AN/APG-81 radar is capable of detecting and tracking the Su-57 at certain ranges, particularly when the Su-57 is not using its own stealth features. In addition, the F-35’s radar is also capable of detecting other non-stealthy targets in the vicinity of the Su-57, which could provide valuable situational awareness for the pilot.
However, it is important to note that the F-35’s primary means of detecting and engaging enemy aircraft is through its advanced sensor suite, which includes the AN/APG-81 radar as well as other sensors such as the electro-optical targeting system [EOTS] and the distributed aperture system [DAS]. These sensors work together to provide the pilot with a comprehensive view of the battlefield, allowing them to detect and engage enemy aircraft even if they are not visible on radar.
In summary, while the F-35’s radar is capable of detecting and tracking the Su-57 at certain ranges, its effectiveness against stealth aircraft is limited. The F-35’s advanced sensor suite, which includes the AN/APG-81 radar, is designed to provide the pilot with a comprehensive view of the battlefield, allowing them to detect and engage enemy aircraft even if they are not visible on radar.
The distance at which the radar of the Su-57 or the F-35 can intercept a stealth fighter depends on several factors. One of the most important factors is the radar cross-section [RCS] of the stealth fighter. RCS is a measure of how much radar energy is reflected back to the radar from the target. The lower the RCS, the harder it is for the radar to detect the target. Therefore, the distance at which the radar can intercept a stealth fighter is directly proportional to the RCS of the target.
Another important factor is the frequency of the radar. The higher the frequency, the better the radar is at detecting small targets like stealth fighters. However, higher-frequency radars have a shorter range than lower-frequency radars. Therefore, the range at which the radar can intercept a stealth fighter is inversely proportional to the frequency of the radar.
N036 Byelka vs AN/APG-81
The Su-57 is equipped with a powerful N036 Byelka radar, which has a range of up to 400 km. The radar is capable of detecting targets with an RCS of 0.1 square meters at a range of up to 90 km. However, the radar’s range is significantly reduced when it is used in a high cluttered environment, such as over a city or in mountainous terrain.
The F-35, on the other hand, is equipped with an AN/APG-81 radar, which has a range of up to 200 km. The radar is capable of detecting targets with an RCS of 1 square meter at a range of up to 110 km. However, the radar’s range is also significantly reduced when it is used in a high-clutter environment.
In conclusion, the distance at which the radars of both fighters can intercept stealth fighters depends on several factors, including the RCS of the target, the frequency of the radar, and the environment in which the radar is used. While the Su-57’s radar has a longer range than the F-35’s radar, both radars are capable of detecting stealth fighters at a significant distance, provided that the conditions are favorable.
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