Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Brand New Su-57 Stealth Fighters Set To Join Russian Air Force; Developer Says Will Boost Production Of 5th-Gen Jets

Russian state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec has reportedly announced that the country’s air force will soon receive a new batch of fifth-generation Su-57 aircraft.

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The company also revealed that they are working to increase the production of these fighter jets, RIA Novosti reported. 

The report does not specify how many aircraft will be transferred to the Air Force. Given that the service only has a small number of fifth-generation aircraft in its inventory, any new aircraft will significantly increase its air power. 

Sergey Chemezov, the head of the Rostec corporation, visited the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant (KnAAZ). The facility, named after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, is responsible for producing Su-57 fighter jets. 

“The company is working to increase the production of these aircraft within the framework of the contract between United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and the Ministry of Defense, a new batch of fighters will shortly be delivered to the troops,” the press release said. 

Two Su-57s With Airframes Numbered’ 53′ and’ 54′ in red were allegedly spotted at the Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport in Siberia, Russia, in late May.

KnAAZ is currently fully booked with orders through 2028, according to the director. Chemezov claimed that the fighters were in a high degree of readiness and that the rate of manufacturing would be boosted. 

Rostec stated Russia intends to enhance fifth-generation fighter production at KnAAZ. This will be executed by implementing advanced production methods, constructing new facilities, and procuring modern equipment. 

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In the future, the business will construct a new hull for the Su-57 at the flight test facility and begin the third stage of galvanic production. The company will also start rebuilding the machining and heat treatment facilities.

Challenges During Development Process

The plan to enhance production makes sense considering that the country’s fifth-generation fleet trails significantly behind that of the United States and China. So far, there seem to be significant differences in reports of the number of Su-57 aircraft Russia currently possesses. 

According to some reports, the Russian Air Force currently possesses three operational models of Su-57. Many other sources, however, asserted that the nation now operates about a dozen of these planes. 

Sukhoi Su-57 - Wikipedia
Sukhoi Su-57 – Wikipedia

The development of the aircraft has been fraught with difficulties. In 2014, one of the Su-57 prototypes suffered extensive damage due to an engine fire. Despite early predictions that the Su-57 would enter service in 2017, only one Su-57 had left the factory by the end of 2019.

In 2019, during the testing process, one Su-57 crashed and was destroyed in eastern Russia; however, the pilot managed to eject from the aircraft safely. The incident led to the CEO of Sukhoi resigning, which delayed the program. 

The Russian Aerospace Forces acquired its first Felon in December 2022. The second batch of Su-57s, which included two additional aircraft, was handed over to the Air Force in January 2022. Nevertheless, the country regularly stated that it plans to have 76 operational aircraft by 2028. 

The aircraft’s chances of being exported also appear to be poor. Experts estimate that Moscow will not be able to export a fully production-ready Su-57 before the late 2020s.

Su-57 Fighter Jet

The Sukhoi Su-57 is a Russian fifth-generation multirole fighter capable of annihilating any airborne, land-based, or naval target. According to its designers, the Su-57 fighter jet extensively uses composite materials and stealth technology. 

The aircraft can attain supersonic cruising speeds and is outfitted with cutting-edge onboard radio-electronic systems. This contains a powerful onboard computer (called the “electronic second pilot”), a body-wide radar system, and a few additional novelties, the most notable of which is armament stored within the fuselage.

The Su-57 was conceived and built as part of the Russian Air Force’s PAK FA fifth-generation fighter aircraft program by the Sukhoi Design Bureau and the Russian Aircraft Corporation. It was also designed to defeat ground and naval defenses with supercruise, maneuverability, and sophisticated avionics.

It has an integrated wing body fuselage and blends the abilities of a fighter jet with a strike aircraft. Felon features two internal weapon bays between the engines and two side weapon bays for short-range air-to-air missiles.

The aircraft is outfitted with a 101KS “Atoll” infrared search-and-track sensor, which allows for long-range detection and engagement of stealth targets. The IMA BK integrated avionics suite, which includes multi-core microprocessors and a revolutionary real-time operating system, can detect enemy targets quickly and advise the pilot on the best route. 

The pilot can perform the beaming maneuver, in which the aircraft turns perpendicular to an enemy’s pulse doppler radar array to avoid detection by side-looking radar. In addition, these features also increase the pilot’s situational awareness.

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