Russian Sukhoi-57 (SU-57), the latest Russian fighter jet, is undergoing unmanned testing if Russian media reports are to be believed. The SU-57 will be the latest addition to the Russian Air Force as Moscow tries to compete with other fifth-generation fighters.
Experts talking to EurAsian Times believe that the SU-57 would modernize the Russian fleet and be a formidable opponent to the American F-22s and F-35s, both of whom are classified as fifth-generation fighter jets.
According to RIA Novosti, an arm of the Russian news outlet, the SU-57 is flying unmanned at an undisclosed location in Russia. Novosti cites an unmanned source which claims that the fighter jet is flying with a pilot, but the pilot is only present to monitor the aircraft’s system.
An unmanned fighter plane is an unconventional approach to aerial combat. Countries such as the United States, China and Japan usually assist their fighter jets with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) while Moscow is aiming to combine UAVs with unmanned aircraft.
The Russians currently do not have an operational fifth-generation fighter like the American F-35s, F-22s or even the Chinese J-20s. If the SU-57 tests are successful, the Russian Air Force could have state of the art technology at its disposal and the only unmanned fighter jet in the world.
Sukhoi-57 vs F-22 & F-35
For the Americans and in fact much of the world, the F-22 and F-35 signal American air dominance and prowess. However, with the arrival of the SU-57, the Russians are confident that they would soon rule the skies.
In fact, they are so confident that they named the place ‘SU-57’ because it combines the best of both F-22 and F-35 and if you add the suffix for both the planes you get 57.
As usual, Moscow has kept the details of the aircraft a secret but leaked reports on the internet do give some fascinating insights. Experts believe the SU-57 is an evolution of the SU-27 Flanker’s shape, modernized for low radar observability but also even greater manoeuvrability.
Aviation author Piotr Butowski claims that its high static instability makes it more manoeuvrable than any modern fighter plane. The blended wing design increases internal volume for avionics, fuel and weapons.
The major component of the SU-57’s performance is its two engines. The Saturn izdeliye 30 engines are each meant to generate between 24,054 and 35,556 pounds of thrust, with the high end in the same territory as the F-22’s F119 engines.
These are meant to drive the fighter to speeds of up to Mach 1.5 in supercruise. The SU-57 will equip with the N056 Byelka (“squirrel”) radar system and the L402 electronic countermeasures suite. L-band arrays will be the fighter’s primary means of detecting stealth aircraft, while at shorter ranges the 101KS Atoll electro-optical suite, including an infrared search and track system, will help the pilot track and engage targets with infrared-guided missiles.
In comparison to the F-22 Raptor, the SU-57 has two large internal weapons bay. Each bay can carry up to 4 K-77 M and the K-74M2 missiles. The former is a beyond visual range radar-guided missile and has the capability to engage agile targets up to a 100 miles.
The SU-57 is heavily inclined towards manoeuvrability and speed while its counterparts in Washington rely on manoeuvrability and stealth. This makes the competition interesting since the Americans would look to detect the SU-57 plane early and engage with it without showing on the radar but the combination of manoeuvrability and infra-red search and track from the Russian plane will make it a lethal opponent.
When will we see the SU-57?
Although the first SU-57 flight off in 2010, the company behind the production of the aircraft is yet to deliver the fifth-generation fighter. Moscow flew prototypes of the SU-57 in Syria in 2018 and it was announced that the plane would soon be delivered to Moscow.
The Russian Air Force was scheduled to receive a delivery of 2 aeroplanes in 2019 and an additional 2 in 2020 but the crash of a test SU-57 near Khabarovsk has stalled the process.
However, Russian defence officials remain confident that the Air Force will get the delivery of the first batch of planes this year. “Large-scale work awaits us in 2020 to stabilize the aircraft industry,” the head of Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, was quoted as saying in December 2019 by TASS news agency. “The first large-scale deliveries of the fifth-generation SU-57 aircraft will begin,” he said.
Vladimir Putin aims to have 76 SU-57 by 2028 and a deal for the same was already signed in May 2019 between the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
While we do expect to see a few SU-57 commissioned into the Russian fleet, it should not be a surprise if COVID-19 pandemic pushes the delivery dates even further. Russia now has the second-highest number of recorded infections as per John Hopkins University and the government would not be hesitant to re-analyse its planned expenditures.
But once the SU-57 does take to the sky, it would join the elite list of fifth-generation fighters in the world along with the U.S.’s F-22 Raptor, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and Chinese J-20.
Israel-China Relations: How Israel Is Getting Caught Between US-China Rivalry? Analysis
Israel knew the drill even before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boarded his flight to Tel Aviv earlier this month four days after the death of his father. It was Pompeo’s first and only overseas trip since March.
Echoing a US warning two decades ago that Israeli dealings with China jeopardized the country’s relationship with the United States, Pompeo’s trip solidified Israel’s position at the cusp of the widening US-Chinese divide.
Two decades ago the issue was the potential sale to China of Israeli Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS). Israel backed out of the deal after the US threatened withdrawal of American support for the Jewish state.
This month the immediate issue was a Chinese bid for construction of the world’s largest desalination plant and on the horizon a larger US-Chinese battle for a dominating presence in Eastern Mediterranean ports.
Within days of his visit, Pompeo scored a China-related success even if the main focus of his talks with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was believed to be Iran and Israeli plans to annex portions of the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Israel signalled that it had heard the secretary’s message by awarding the contract for the Sorek-2 desalination plant to an Israeli rather than a Chinese company.
The tender, however, is only the tip of the iceberg.
China’s interest in Israel is strategic given the fact that the Jewish state is one of the world’s foremost commercial, food and security technology powerhouses and one of the few foreign countries to command significant grassroots support in the United States.
If there is one thing Israel cannot afford, it is a rupture in its bonds to the United States. That is no truer than at a time in which the United States is the only power supportive of Israeli annexation plans on the West Bank.
The question is whether Israel can develop a formula that convinces the United States that US interests will delineate Israeli dealings with China and reassure China that it can still benefit from Israeli assets within those boundaries.
“Right now, without taking the right steps, we are looking at being put in the situation in which the US is telling us we need to cut or limit our relations with China. The problem is that Israel wants freedom of relations with China but is not showing it really understands US concerns. Sorek-2 was a good result. It shows the Americans we get it.” said Carice Witte, executive director of Sino-Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership (SIGNAL) that seeks to advance Israeli-Chinese relations.
Analysts, including Witte, believe that there is a silver lining in Israel’s refusal to award the desalination plant to a Chinese company that would allow it to steer a middle course between the United States and China.
“China understands that by giving the Americans this win, China-Israel relations can continue. It gives them breathing room,” Witte said in an interview.
It will, however, be up to Israel to develop criteria and policies that accommodate the United States and make clear to China what Israel can and cannot do.
“In order for Israel to have what it wants… it’s going to need to show the Americans that it takes Washington’s strategic perceptions into consideration and not only that, that it’s two steps ahead on strategic thinking with respect to China. The question is how.” Witte said.
Ports and technology are likely to be focal points.
China is set to next year takeover the management of Haifa port where it has already built its own pier and is constructing a new port in Ashdod.
One way of attempting to address US concerns would be to include technology companies in the purview of a still relatively toothless board created under US pressure in the wake of the Haifa deal to review foreign investment in Israel. It would build in a safeguard against giving China access to dual civilian-military use technology.
That, however, may not be enough to shield Israel against increased US pressure to reduce Chinese involvement in Israeli ports.
“The parallels between the desalination plant and the port are just too close to ignore. We can’t have another infrastructure divide,” Witte said.
The two Israeli ports will add to what is becoming a Chinese string of pearls in the Eastern Mediterranean.
China already manages the Greek port of Piraeus.
China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) is looking at upgrading Lebanon’s deep seaport of Tripoli to allow it to accommodate larger vessels.
Qingdao Haixi Heavy-Duty Machinery Co. has sold Tripoli port two 28-storey container cranes capable of lifting and transporting more than 700 containers a day, while a container vessel belonging to Chinese state-owned shipping company COSCO docked in Tripoli in December 2018, inaugurating a new maritime route between China and the Mediterranean.
Major Chinese construction companies are also looking at building a railroad that would connect Beirut and Tripoli in Lebanon to Homs and Aleppo in Syria. China has further suggested that Tripoli could become a special economic zone within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and serve as an important trans-shipment point between the People’s Republic and Europe.
BRI is a massive infrastructure, telecommunications and energy-driven effort to connect the Eurasian landmass to China. Potential Chinese involvement in the reconstruction of post-war Syria would likely give it access to the ports of Latakia and Tartous.
Taken together, China is looking at dominating the Eastern Mediterranean with six ports in four countries, Israel, Greece, Lebanon, and Syria that would create an alternative to the Suez Canal.
All that is missing are Turkish, Cypriot and Egyptian ports.
The Chinese build-up threatens to complicate US and NATO’s ability to manoeuvre in the region.
The Trump administration has already warned Israel that Chinese involvement in Haifa could jeopardize continued use of the port by the US fifth fleet.
“The writing is on the wall. Israel needs to carve out a degree of wiggle room. That, however, will only come at a price. There is little doubt that Haifa will move into the firing line,” said a long-time observer of Israeli-Chinese relations.
James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
Israel Media Blames Turkey, Iran For Supporting ‘Violent Riots’ In The US
Israeli media has accused Turkey and Iran of supporting violent demonstrations in the US over the killing over the Afro-American person. Turkey is one of the world’s biggest detainers of journalists while Iran butchered over 1,500 protesters last year, but leaders in both nations cynically attempted to exploit recent protests in the US, writes the JPost.
The report writes that Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted that “if you’re dark-skinned walking in the US, you can’t be sure you’ll be alive in the next few minutes.” Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the killing of George Floyd was “deeply disturbing and upsetting’ and that it was part of a scheme by global powers and the “current world order.”
JPost says that It was hard to gauge the writers who penned the tweets for Ahmadinejad and Khamenei in English, some of them seem to be inspired from college activists in the US as it drifted from the standard vocabulary of the Iranian regime.
Even as Iran’s regime was backing the violent demonstrations in the US, Tehran was gunning down peaceful Kurdish “kolbars” or people who move goods across the border, claims the report.
Turkish President Erdogan, who championed in ethnically wiping-off the Kurds in northern Syria and whose army carried out a drone strike that killed two civilians recently Iraq, also supported the US demonstrations.
Pakistan Could Induct JH-7 Deep Strike Jets To Counter Indian Rafales, S-400s – Experts
Pakistan’s financial woes leave the country stripped of an advanced air defence system, however, its old friend China can lend a helping hand to the Pakistan Air Force to somewhat counter the Indian capabilities.
Experts write that Pakistan’s close relationship with China coupled with the economic problems that the Islamic Republic is encountering, getting hold of the JH-7 heavy strike fighter from Beijing can equip the Pakistan Air Force with the much needed, offensive and defensive capabilities.
It is reported that China also intends to sell a large part of their JH-7 fleet to Pakistan as it has repeatedly been showcasing the fighter bomber at air shows such as the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition.
With a relatively old frame, the JH-7 is still one of the most successful aircraft for deep strike operations. Along with a longer combat range and heavy payload capacity, the aircraft’s ability to fly under the enemy radar can allow it to target many coastal regions of its neighbours.
Built with technological superiority, the JH-7 can launch long-range anti-ship missiles from as far as 100 miles from their targets, therefore adding to the strategic aura of the aircraft. This characteristic was best-made use of by the Argentine Air Force during the 1982 Falklands War, as French Super Etendard strike aircraft armed with Exocet missiles sank two British warships.
Apart from its other mechanical specializations, since Pakistan already has experience in successfully operating and maintaining Chinese-built aircrafts such as the H-5, J-6, and F-7, the JH-7 presents itself as “an ideal “stop-gap” solution for the PAF until sufficient numbers of the JF-17 Block 3 are inducted,” believes Ammad Malik, a defence and security analyst from Lahore.
PAF against IAF
Post the independence from the British rule, India and Pakistan have engaged in four bloody wars and many conflicts including few military standoffs and one publically known airstrike.
Both the nuclear-armed nations continue strengthening their defence systems. The global defence experts believe that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is equipped with aircraft that are both qualitatively and numerically superior to much of the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) inventory.
According to the latest numbers from Global Firepower Index 2019, PAF has airpower of 1,342 aircraft as compared to IAF’s 2,082. While the IAF includes superior-quality aircrafts such as the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKI and upcoming Rafale Jets, Pakistan still depends largely on its limited fleet of US’s F-16 Fighting Falcons.
With the possession of about 75 F-16 jets that were delivered way back in the 1980s, PAF also includes over 100 JF-17s of the Block 1 and Block 2 variants, along with a huge operational fleet of the 1960s-era Mirage 3 fighter jets.
India even wins the brownie points as the Indian Navy is also capable of operating a significant and independent air arm of its own which can effectively target Pakistan’s coastal hub of Karachi. Pakistan’s Navy, on the other hand, is relatively much smaller than India’s and does not have capabilities to deploy fighter jets and depends flat out on the PAF for aerial maritime strike operations.
Meanwhile, critics from Pakistan often point out that the PAF enjoys far greater serviceability of its jets than that of IAF due to maintenance-friendly nature of its aircraft. The expert writers that “India’s present Russian/Soviet technology is generally less reliable and less effective and a large part of their fleet of MiG-21s and MiG-27s are outdated,” while calling the MiGs as ‘flying coffins’.
However, just recently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had announced that it will receive the first 4 of the total 36 Rafale fighter jets from France by the end of July 2020 and the full delivery by May 2022.
The twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft is categorized as a 4.5 generation aircraft that can perform numerous roles including Air dominance, interdiction, aerial recce, precision long-range strikes including in the maritime environment.
India’s retired Air Marshal M Matheswaran had said that “Pakistan has the multi-role F-16 in its inventory. But it is only as good as the Mirage 2000 of India. There is nothing equivalent to the Rafale in Pakistan.”
Penned by Ammad Malik, Edited by Vipasha Kaushal
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