Su-35 Flankers: Battered In Ukraine, Shunned By Allies, Russia To ‘Enhance’ Su35s Capabilities Using SMO Experience

Despite losing several advanced Su-35 fighter jets in the Ukraine conflict, the manufacturer argues that the experience gained in the war provides valuable insights for accelerating the enhancement of the Su-35S fighter aircraft.

The Su-35, designated Flanker-E by NATO, is a Russian multirole super-maneuverable fighter incorporating a controlled thrust vector and is classified as a “4++” generation aircraft.

During an interview at the International Exhibition-Fair “Russia” in Moscow, Alexander Pekarsh, the director of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant, stated that the experiences gained from the recent special military operation (SMO) have enabled swift advancements in the Su-35S fighter. 

Pekarsh explained that issues that once took considerable time to resolve are now being addressed rapidly in the current environment. 

Asserting the Su-35S as the premier aircraft in its class, he pointed out that this acknowledgment comes not from personal opinion but from those actively operating the aircraft. 

Russian Su-35S fighter jets. Twitter

Yet, the director of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant did not explicitly detail the enhancements made thus far. However, it is conceivable that these improvements could be linked to addressing the deficiencies observed during the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. 

According to Dutch open-source intelligence outlet Oryx, Russia has lost five Su-35S jets since its military operations in Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022.

While the Su-35S continues to pose challenges for Ukraine, engaging in long-range air-to-air missile exchanges and compelling Ukrainian fighter jets to operate at lower altitudes, its global reputation has been somewhat dented due to the losses it suffered in the war. 

The EurAsian Times has recently published a detailed article outlining how various countries initially expressed enthusiasm for this Russian-made fighter jet. However, due to several factors, including the looming threat of sanctions from the US, the appeal of the Su-35S gradually diminished.  

Thus, the ongoing enhancements to the aircraft’s capabilities could render it more lethal on the battlefield, potentially rekindling international interest and appeal among prospective customers.

Russia Ramps Up Su-57 Fighter Jet Production

The director highlighted that KnAAZ, a modern combat aviation equipment producer for the Russian Ministry of Defense, also manufactures Su-57 fighters. 

Discussing the Su-57 fighter, which is still in its early operational stages, Pekarsh mentioned that it is following a similar trajectory. 

Despite being in serial production and supplied to the armed forces, the main focus is now on scaling up production. This entails additional equipment, expanded facilities, and addressing personnel challenges. 

Rostec State Corporation has recently declared that Russia’s fifth-generation Su-57 fighter is poised for heightened combat capabilities by integrating its second-stage engine, “Product 30.” 

While the participation of the Su-57 in the Ukrainian conflict is not extensively documented, Russian experts consistently praise it as a premier fifth-generation aircraft capable of outperforming every other fighter jet of its kind globally. 

Russia’s fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jet. Twitter

The Su-57’s development program is highly regarded within the Russian defense community, positioning it as a suitable heir to the Su-27 heavy fighter for the Aerospace Forces. This status underscores the program’s significant importance and impact. 

Discussing the technical aspects, a Russian expert previously highlighted a crucial feature of the Su-57: radars are distributed across the entire aircraft surface, forming what is termed ‘smart skin.’ 

The expert pointed out advancements in various aspects, asserting superiority over comparable models, particularly in cockpit design and armament, notably a 30-millimeter aircraft cannon tested as early as 2014. 

“Today, in 2023, we have the best model in the world, the Okhotnik drone, developed for it. This is also not so easy. In pairs, they can perform combat missions, which in modern conditions are assessed as an advanced track for developing weapons and equipment for use in modern conflicts,” the Russian expert added. 

Meanwhile, the manufacturer, in collaboration with the production center of the Yakovlev Corporation, is actively working on mastering the program for civil aircraft construction, specifically for the production of the Superjet-100 aircraft.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100, crafted by the Russian aerospace company Sukhoi, is tailored to approximately 100 passengers, positioning it as an ideal choice for regional and short-haul flights.

In a recent development, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) disclosed plans for delivering 22 import-substituted Sukhoi Superjet New (SJ-100) aircraft equipped with PD-8 engines to Russian airlines, with the anticipated timeline for these deliveries set in 2024.