After Su-57, Russia Wants To Outclass US’ F-16 With A Light & Cheaper Stealth Fighter Jet

After the heavyweight stealth fighter jet, Sukhoi Su-57, Russia is set to build another fifth-generation light- and medium-class combat aircraft to complement the first one. And it will offer a cheaper alternative to the US F-16.

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The new fighter will be a piloted and unmanned stealth jet. It would be suitable for countries looking for cheaper versions of modern and stealthy four plus or fifth-generation fighter jets like F-16. 

Rostec, a state-owned conglomerate, said the work is already underway for the light single-engine fifth-generation fighter for Russia’s Aerospace Force. “Under the design, this may be a universal platform in the manned and unmanned versions,” Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov told the Russian news agency, Tass. “The company is working on the concept and the operational requirements for such a platform.”

Currently, no orders have been placed by the Russian Defense Ministry for the aircraft. The development isn’t through Federal funds but through Rostec’s initiative. However, the company is looking to partner with foreign governments to expedite the process of development of the fighter. Partnering would also help open foreign markets and Rostec would be able to export on its own. 

The Russian Defense Ministry may purchase it for its own needs as well. In that case, the plane will have to be upgraded to the level required by the Defense Ministry for its interior, if a decision is made, Chemezov said.

The idea was first floated in 2017 when Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov announced the intention to build the development of the fighter jet. Yuri Slyusar, Head of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), a state-owned defense corporation, said that Russia would be represented through UAC as the parent organization and also through Sukhoi, the developer of Russia’s first fifth-generation fighter along with MiG Aircraft Corporation for its single-engine technology.

The “inexpensive” aircraft would feature a single-engine whose motor would be developed on the basis of the powerful Klimov RD-33 engine, which is used in MiG-29 and MiG-35 jets, Klimov Company Executive Director Alexander Vatagin said earlier. 

The RD-33 engine provides a maximum military thrust of 5040 Kilogram Force (kgf). The engine consists of the following main parts: a 4-stage low-pressure compressor, 9-stage high-pressure compressor, annular ramjet combustor, high and low-pressure turbines, supersonic variable-area nozzle, and afterburner, accessory gearbox, and an engine starting and control system, according to the maker, Klimov.

The engine is equipped with failure detection systems, compressor speed governor and LP turbine exit temperature limiter, surge, ice, and fire detectors. Owing to its high stall margin in the presence of external disturbances (caused by weapon use, among others), the engine does not impose restrictions on piloting the aircraft, including with combat load.

Su-57’s New Partner?

Russia’s first stealth fighter, Sukhoi Su-57 falls in the category of the next-generation heavyweight fighter. It took its first flight in 2010 but faced delays in production. Combining the capabilities of an attack plane and a fighter jet, the use of composite materials and innovative technologies and the fighter’s aerodynamic configuration ensure the low level of radar and infrared signature. 

As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, the Su-57 fighter jet is designed to have supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and advanced avionics to overcome the prior generation fighter aircraft as well as ground and naval defenses.


The fighter aircraft features stealth technology with the broad use of composite materials, is capable of developing supersonic cruising speed, and is furnished with the most advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful onboard computer (the so-called electronic second pilot), the radar system spread across its body and some other innovations, in particular, armament placed inside its fuselage. It is designed to destroy all types of air, ground, and naval targets.

With the combination of the new lightweight fifth-generation fighter, which is also expected to feature stealth capabilities, it would give a massive boost to the Russian Air Force’s capabilities.  Also, with the technology and development part, for fifth-generation, being sorted (as Russia has already built Su-57) this time, the new fighter’s development time should be compressed.

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