Su-57’s AESA isn’t dangerous to F-35; however passive sensors are

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It is very difficult to look for an advantage or a disadvantage in a fighter of the fifth generation compared to its competitor. Technologies are very advanced. Stealth technology continues to be key because it actually provides cover for the Russian Su-57 or the American F-35.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Our report a few days ago that the F-35 can, within a certain range, detect and track the Su-57 in the air generated interest. Although the range of the Su-57 is greater than that of the F-35, the technology of the F-35 is more advanced. And despite its limited effectiveness against low cross-section aircraft, the AN/APG-81 can detect its Russian adversary. However, this condition is valid, according to experts, if the Su-57 does not use its stealth technologies.

Someone would say: how is it both stealth and not stealth. See, stealth technology isn’t just limited to the anti-radiation coating on the plane. It is simply part of a more complex configuration of technological systems that also involve the participation of other solutions, often as subsystems or part of the avionics of an aircraft. Sensors, for example, are a kind of subsystem, and they are just as important as the coating itself on the aircraft.

The radar of the Su-57

N036 Byelka is the radar of the Russian fighter. It can be safely claimed that this is the first mass-produced AESA radar in Russia. N036 Byelka is an excellent radar. It has a much greater detection and tracking range than the AN/APG-81. It can also track more targets than its American rival, both in the air and on the ground. And it does it at the same time.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Russian radar is capable [also the American one] of quickly scanning an area at a very long distance. This is thanks to the functions it has: electronic scanning and the radar-formed detection beam.

But there is no evidence that the N036 Byelka can detect stealth fighters in the air. It is possible, but there is no such information, and believing claims in Russian media is often risky and misleading. The F-35 is not actually threatened by the N036 Byelka, but it is threatened by a sensor suite that is part of the Su-57’s stealth technology.

Passive sensor suite

Here is one of the advantages of the Su-57 over the F-35. The Russian fighter has a passive sensor package to detect enemy targets, while the F-35 relies on active sensors. And if the F-35’s radar is better developed and functional, pilot engagement of the passive sensors could render the AN/APG-81 useless against the Su-57.

One of the key advantages of the Su-57’s passive sensor suite is that it allows the aircraft to operate stealthily. Since it does not emit any signals, the aircraft is much more difficult to detect by enemy sensors. This makes it easier for the Su-57 to approach and attack enemy targets without being detected.

Again we return to our report in which we emphasized that “at a certain distance and without using the Su-57’s stealth features” the F-35 can intercept and track the Su-57. The passive sensor suite is the excluded stealth technology we are talking about.

The F-35 becomes visible

The Su-57’s passive sensor suite includes a variety of sensors, including infrared sensors, radio frequency sensors, and electro-optical sensors. These sensors are designed to work together to provide a complete picture of the battlefield, allowing the pilot to identify and track enemy aircraft, ground vehicles, and other targets.

Passive sensors work by detecting electromagnetic radiation emitted by other sources, such as radio and television broadcasts, cell phone signals, and even the heat emitted by aircraft engines. In reality, these sensors are not looking for the main radar beams in the traditional way, but for secondary activity that is difficult to hide under the cloak of stealth technology, such as engine heat.

The Su-57’s suite of passive sensors also includes advanced processing capabilities that allow the aircraft to quickly analyze and interpret the data collected by the sensors. This allows the pilot to make informed decisions about how to attack enemy targets and avoid threats.

Advantages of the Su-57 over the F-35

The Su-57 has several technological advantages over the F-35. One of the most significant is its advanced engines. The Su-57 uses two Saturn AL-41F1 afterburner turbofans that provide a maximum thrust of 32,500 lb each. This gives the Su-57 a significant speed and maneuverability advantage over the F-35, which uses a single Pratt & Whitney F135 engine with a maximum thrust of 43,000 pounds. The Su-57’s engines also have a higher thrust-to-weight ratio, allowing it to accelerate faster and climb higher than the F-35.

Photo by Giovanni Colla/Daniele Faccioli

The Su-57 also has superior weapons capabilities compared to the F-35. It can carry a wider range of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, and bombs. The weapons of the Su-57 are also more advanced than those of the F-35.

For example, the Su-57 can carry the R-37M air-to-air missile, which has a range of up to 400 km and can hit targets at an altitude of up to 30 km. The F-35, on the other hand, can only carry the AIM-120 air-to-air missile, which has a range of up to 160 km.

Photo credit: USAF

Finally, the Su-57 has a more advanced electronic warfare [EW] system than the F-35. The Su-57’s EW system includes a jamming pod that can jam enemy radars and communications systems. It also has a towed decoy system that can lure enemy missiles away from the aircraft. The F-35’s EW system is also advanced but does not have the same level of capability as the Su-57’s system.


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