Russia to Upgrade Its Supermaneuvarable Su-35S Fighter

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Written by Andrei Akulov; Originally appeared at Strategic-culture.org

The Su-35S was a big success at the third held at Kubinka air base in the Moscow’s suburbs on August 22-27. The plans have been announced to upgrade the fleet of Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E warplanes this year based on experience gained in Syria.

The Su-35S is a 4++ generation advanced capability multirole air superiority fighter developed from the Su-27. Equipped with new avionics, modern radar and advanced engines, it is known for its incredible maneuverability outpacing all rivals in its class. The plane can accomplish incredible tricks without deceleration. It flies a gamut of missions ranging from the suppression of enemy air defenses to air superiority. It boasts high manoeuvrability (+9g) with a high angle of attack, and is equipped with high-capability weapon systems that contribute to the aircraft’s exceptional dogfighting capability.

Russia to Upgrade Its Supermaneuvarable Su-35S Fighter

The Su-35 weighs 18,400 kg and has a maximum takeoff weight of 34,500 kg. Its service ceiling is 20,000 meters. The service life is 6,000 hours or 30 years. The maximum speed is 2,390km/h or Mach 2.25. A maximum flying range of 3,600 km without external fuel tanks and 4,500 km with external fuel tanks. With its long legs and high speed, the Su-35S easily outruns every Western fighter.

The aircraft has 12 hardpoints for carrying external weapons and stores. Each wing has four hardpoints – one on the wingtip and three under-wing stations. There are two hardpoints on the underside of the fuselage on the centerline and one under each engine. The aircraft’s weapons suite includes a wide range of air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles, including long-range types. The aircraft can be armed with a range of guided bombs and rockets. The ordnance load is 8,000 tons. The 30mm GSh-30-1 gun is fitted in the starboard wing root with 150 rounds of ammunition.

The Irbis-E sophisticated phased-array radar control system allows the plane to detect targets at distances of up to 400 kilometers. It can simultaneously track up to four ground targets or up to 30 airborne targets, as well as engage up to eight airborne targets at the same time. The radar has a friend-or-foe identification capability for aerial and maritime objects, is capable of identifying the class and type of airborne targets and can take aerial photos of the ground. The Irbis-E is the most powerful radar control system on par with the best state-of-the-art international designs, and ahead of most US and European active and passive phased array radars.

The «Khibiny-M» electronic warfare system suite includes a radar warning system, radar jammer, co-operative radar jamming system, missile approach warner, laser warner and chaff and flare dispenser. A relatively small container in the shape of a torpedo is mounted on the wingtips of the aircraft to make it invulnerable to all modern means of defense and enemy fighters.

The OLS-35 IRST infrared search and track fire control system, includes an infrared sensor, laser rangefinder, target designator and television camera. The accuracy of the laser rangefinder is 5m circular error probability, to a maximum range of 20km against airborne targets and 30km against ground targets.

The cockpit has a central control column and is fitted with a Zvezda K-36D-3.5E zero-zero ejection seat which allows the pilot to eject at zero speed and at zero altitude. The aircraft has a quadruplex, digital fly-by-wire control. The cockpit is fitted with two 230mmx305mm high-resolution MFI-35 liquid crystal displays with a multifunction control panel and the IKSh-1M head up display with a wide 20°x30° field of view. The pilot has two VHF/UHF encrypted radio communications systems and a jam-resistant military data link system between squadron aircraft and between the aircraft and ground control. The navigation system is based on a digital map display with a strapdown inertial navigation system and global positioning system.

High-strength, low-weight, composite materials have been used for non-structural items such as the radomes, nose wheel, door and leading-edge flaps. Some of the fuselage structures are made of carbon fiber and aluminium lithium alloy.

The Su-35 is equipped with two AL-41F1S turbojet engines with an afterburner and a controlled thrust vector. The nozzles of its Saturn AL-41F1S turbofans can independently point in different directions in flight to assist the aircraft in rolling and yawing. As a result, the Su-35 can achieve very high angles-of-attack, moving in one direction while its nose is pointed in another. It allows the aircraft to more easily train its weapons on an evading target and execute tight maneuvers. A controlled vector thrust of the Su-35 is quite capable of «pivot turning» and deceiving enemy missiles. The plane is capable of amazing maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of physics at times, such as maneuvering at the post-stall end of the envelope.

For in-flight refueling, the aircraft is equipped with a refuelling probe on the port side of the nose. Two external fuel tanks, type PTB-2000, provide an additional 4,000 L of fuel.

The aircraft was deployed to Syria in early February to display its unique capabilities. The National Interest cited a senior US military official with extensive experience on fifth-generation fighters as saying «It’s a great airplane and very dangerous, especially if they make a lot of them. I think even an AESA [active electronically scanned array-radar equipped F-15C] Eagle and [the Boeing F/A-18E/F] Super Hornet would both have their hands full». German magazine Stern stated that the Su-35S can be considered the world’s deadliest fighter jet other than the fifth-generation US F-22. According to Stern, the Su-35 is significantly superior to its competitors, combining the best features of the fourth generation fighter and the basic features and properties of a fifth generation warplane.

While in Syria, the planes used to suck in small pebbles and small debris from the runway during takeoff, and also had problems with the searchlight and computer screens, all of which have since been addressed and rectified. A set of screens will be installed in the Su-35’s inlets that are designed to prevent the ingestion of foreign object debris. The Su-35 might also receive some upgrade of its avionics hardware and software—particularly those systems pertaining to air-to-ground missions. In the future, it is planned to arm the Su-35S with Р-37М (AA-13 Arrow) long-range air-to-air missile. The range depends on the flight profile, from 150 km for a direct shot to 398 km for a cruise glide profile. The missile can attack targets ranging in altitude between 15–25,000 metres. Russia is developing the KS-172 air-to-air missile with a range of 460 km.

Unrivaled maneuverability and unique and versatile weapons capabilities make the top air-superiority fighter a deadly adversary.

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  • FlorianGeyer

    The durability of Russian weapons has always been a superior factor. In Syria we see Russian made tanks etc from the 1950’s that are being used in the harshest of conditions for any tracked vehicles in the desert sands.

    Russian aircraft in Syria have flown thousands of effective sorties .
    Western made equipment requires far more maintenance and repair which is ok when running around playing soldiers in an exercise but not much use in real battlefield conditions.

    • Don’t read butthurt replies

      also Soviet made weapons and a bunch of other stuff.

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  • ruca

    I think you meant 8,000kg, not tons.

  • jeffrey exposito

    An F15 Silent Eagle fitted with the latest APG 63v AESA radar woulld easilly send the SU35 down in flames. An F22 is over kill. Russians are good at making dramatic claims but the record shows that in actual combat US warplanes have dominated on a lopsided scale over their Russian counterparts.

    • ruca

      Thanks for the warm breeze.

    • Barba_Papa

      Did I somehow miss a war where the US and Russians went toe to toe with one another?

      Oh, you mean those lopsided wars where the Americans trashed some thirdrate country with a fourthrate military and then claimed that their gear was therefore the best EVER!!! Of course the one time they did went up against a thirdrate country that actually managed to put a fight by not fighting to America’s rules, the 1999 Kosovo war, all that supposed American uber gear did not deliver them that massive victory that American manufacturers and TV shows always proclaim.

      Sorry to burst your bubble, and sorry to burst the Russian’s bubble, but until the two countries actually go to war with another no side can make ridiculous claims. Not to mention that having the best gear means shit when your fighting doctrine is not as good. Not to mention that it also depends on how well your men are trained and motivated.

      • jeffrey exposito

        I hate to burst your bubble but it is widely accepted that American and Isreali fighter pilots are the best trained and most experienced in the world. The average American fighter pilot receives 5 times the flight hours per year than the average Russian pilots. In a real combat scenario the Russian pilots would find themselves being owned and dominated by their superior American counterparts. Russia does not have anything comparable to Top Gun and Red Flag rigorous fighter weapons training that produces some of the finest fighter pilots in the world.

        • Tudor Miron

          You’re stack in the past with your figures :)

        • Barba_Papa

          Widely accepted means squat. It was widely accepted before the Vietnam war that US pilots and aircraft were the best, and yet expensive state of the art F4 Phantoms were getting their asses kicked in dogfights against older Vietnamese MiG-17’s en 19’s. Because the USAF had neglected their dogfighting skills. It was widely accepted thanks to Desert Storm that US air power could utterly devastate an enemy from the air, and yet despite weeks of increasingly heavy bombing during the 1999 Kosovo campaign the US/NATO barely inflicted any damage on the Serb army. It was widely accept that the US Army could win any war and yet it got caught with its pants down by the Iraq insurgency and is STILL unable to beat the Taliban in Afghanistan. I do not place much stock in terms like widely accepted, because there is one thing my university history education taught me is that things are never what people think is widely accepted.

          Yes, US pilots enjoy more training, but training means squat if it teaches you the wrong skills, as US pilots learned the hard way in Vietnam. And despite enjoying less training Russian pilots perform superbly well in Syria, where at least Syrian troops are far less likely to be on the accidental receiving end of Russian bombs as Kurdish troops are from American bombs. So maybe American training is not that good after all and the Russians are doing something right instead. Maybe less time spending on dogfights and more on training for close air support? And while the US can bring to bear a lot more force and firepower to a fight, as Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan have shown, when your enemy refuses to dance to your tune, but dances to their own instead, suddenly American advantages disappear. And let us not start about the utterly abysmal performance of the Israeli’s in the 2006 war, where they couldn’t stop Hezbollah from raining down rockets on Israel, hell, they couldn’t even hit Hezbollah because they couldn’t even identify where Hezbollah was.

          And that’s excluding the fact that since the Vietnam war the US has not faced a serious opponent with a first class air defense system, nor does the US Army have anything remotely like the amount of air defense units that Russian units have.

          • jeffrey exposito

            Google Operation Rimon 20. You will see how much Russian air operations tactics stink.

            You wrote a lot but you have failed to refute with any facts that American fighter pilots are the best and most experienced in the world the only exception being Israel.

          • Barba_Papa

            So that’s your claim to fame, one operation from 1970 means the current Russian air force sucks ass and current US and Israeli pilots are the shit? Well, in that case google US aircraft losses in Vietnam. 10.000 aircraft and helicopters for 200 North Vietnamese. Including a certain current US senator who as a result got to enjoy being a POW for several years.

            The British army lost more soldiers to US aircraft attacking them by accident during combat operations in both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. The Kurds have lost dozens of soldiers thanks to US aircraft attacking them by accident. The Syrian army lost almost a hundred soldiers and nearly lost Deir Ezzor because the US air force supposedly bombed them and not ISIS for 45 minutes straight by ‘accident’. Yes, US pilots may log more flying time, that means squat if they don’t learn to fucking properly identify their enemy! And we only have to look at the IDF’s performance in the 2006 war that without good intel Israeli pilots are just as clueless in what to hit.

            And as training goes, the Russian air group in Syria logs more fly time, more missions, and hits its allies lies then the much larger US deployments. If that is not good training, I don’t know what is. And by now almost every Russian pilot has rotated through Syria. If that is not good training I don’t know what it.

            And so far I’ve seen not a single fact to support your claim that US and Israeli pilots are the best. Other then some claim that they log more flight time and have these supposedly good aggressor programs. So far the evidence in the field today does not support your statements. Which is to be expected, underachieving performances usually happen when you start to believe your own propaganda because everything worked out for you for way too long. Actual lessons are only learned after rude awakenings. Those aggressor programs only came about because of a rude awakening. Like losing 10.000 aircraft to a small 3rd world country that actually stood its ground and did not fight according to Uncle Sam’s tactics. It would do well to expect that the Russians will not play to Uncle Sam’s current tactics either. That way at least you might avoid another rude awakening.

      • Tudor Miron

        I agree that Russian vs American planes on equal terms was never tested in real life. But as an engineer I can safely say that there’s no domination from any side. Aerodynamics are visibly better on Russian side – that we can clearly see by the manuvers performed by US and Russian planes. Untill recently US was ahead in terms of avionics but that’s not the case any more. Stealth invincibility bursted in flames when F-117 went down in Jugoslavia. Do you guys understand that as soon as any jet switches its radar into tracking mode it’s stealthiness goes out the window? There’s no real dominance on either side but RuAF is more than good enough to defend its Motherland and that’s what really matters :)

        • jeffrey exposito

          American fighters are superior to their Russian counterparts for three main reasons. Superior avionics superior radar and superior weapons. And now the US dominates in stealth technology as well.

          As for the F117 do you realize that the F117 flew over 1100 combat missions over Yughoslavia and only 1 was shot down by sheer luck? That’s a 99.999% success rate. Why were not more F117s shot down if stealth doesn’t work? It’s because it was sheer luck that the SA5 missile flew at a close enough proximity when it detonated near the F117. It was dumb luck. That’s it.

          • Tudor Miron

            Jeffrey, you seem to be one of those that believe in being exceptional nation :) Why don’t you educate yourself with this study http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Rus-BVR-AAM.html This is not Russian propoganda but coming from one of your close ally. Good luck.

          • jeffrey exposito

            Hahaha. Carlo Kopp has been discredited as a bumbling idiot by many. I had hoped you would have found someone more credible.

          • John Whitehot

            Nah, it’s just that when you start reading about RCS or signal outputs you go back at Boeing pamphlets where “Boeing fighters are the best because we make them and we know and yall better believe us”.

            Besides, since he brings data to the discussions and does not limit himself to dogmas, he has been banned by the western MilInd complexes, how strange.

          • Tudor Miron

            Now thats a true example of argument backed by facts and documents. Carlo Kopp is known to public. Who are those “many” that label him “bumbling idiot”? Did they present some facts to render his study as idiotic? Would you share those facts with us? I would be happy to learn new things.
            Jeffrey, if you feel the urge to “be right” than so be it :) If you like to believe in Anerican superiority over the rest of the world – thats fine with me. I’m not the one to discourage you.
            Let me ask. What do you think: Did Russia hack your elections?

          • SG
          • John Whitehot

            Lol you don’t even know how a fighter radar screen looks like and you talk about avionics.

            Everything you say we heard for tens of years, it’s the same old propaganda bullshit made by the US military industrial complex.

            And LoL, the F-117 was shot down by a SA-3 (S-125), not a SA-5, know-it-all guy.

          • jeffrey exposito

            Yes my.mistake. It was an S125. You still failed to answer why only one F117 was shot down when there were over 1100 combat sorties over Yugoslavia. That’s a 99.999% success rate. How do you explain that?

          • John Whitehot

            1100 combat sorties ?
            provide evidence because it’s hilarious.

          • SG

            An F-117 was shot down by an S-125, proof that an F-22 and an F-35 can be shot down by much more sophisticated air defense systems. S-400 and others come to mind, there are also various countermeasures against anti-radiation guided munitions as well, including the Pantsir SA/ SM short-range air defense system, target diversion tactics and electronic warfare systems to achieve the same purpose, new communication encryption systems, etc.

          • Tudor Miron

            OK, lets examine your arguments. ” F117 flew over 1100 combat missions over Yughoslavia and only 1 was shot down by sheer luck? That’s a 99.999% success rate.”(c) First, I would like to see some reports about 1100 combat missions conducted by F117 during Nato agression against souvereign Yugoslavia. But lets assume that this is true. 1% out of 1100 is 11. 1 out of 11 = 0.0909 :)
            100 – 0.09 = 99.909%… A little mistake there isn’t it? Is there any more of those in your arguments?

    • chris chuba

      An F15 has never encountered an Su27 in combat let alone an Su35 so how would you know?

      • jeffrey exposito

        What the Russians won’t tell you is that fully combat loaded with weapons and fuel the SU27 is limited to 7.5gs at best. A fully loaded F15 and F16 will pull 9gs. The fancy maneuvers done by Russian aircraft at airshows is the result of the aircraft being stripped down to the bone with almost an empty tank. In a combat configuration an F15 or F16 would trash an SU27 or SU35 in a dogfight. The most agile fighter in the world is the F22. This has been proven via frame by frame video comparisons between the F22 and the SU35S. And other than the F22 the F18E/F has superior low speed maneuverability than any other Russian jet. The myth of The “supramanuevrability” of the SU35 was created by Russian media to gin up sales but in fact Russia has been unsuccessful in obtaining the kind of export success of the F15 and F16.

        • batavian01

          The US using F15s and F16s lost in war games they hosted against the Indian Air Force using SU-30MKI. The export “success” is entirely political. NATO vassals and other “Western” lackies are forced to buy inferior American crap at highly inflated prices. The F35 is just one example.

          The F-22 is not equal to or better than the SU-35 in maneuverability and the F18E/F doesn’t even come close at any speed.

          • jeffrey exposito

            hmmm. The so called victory by Indian SU30s was the result of Indian media hype and boasting and was widely disputed by the American pilots. And it only involved F15s not F16s. And what you failed to state perhaps out of ignorance is that the Americans were purposely handicapped at the insistence of the Indian Air force in that the F15s had their radars turned off and were also loaded with fuel and simulated weapons while the Indian SU30s were stripped giving the Indians a distinct advantage. Even so the Indian SU30s were demolished and embarrassed in 2008 in Alaska by the F15s.

            The reason American jets such as the F15 and F16 enjoy greater export success than their Russian counterparts is simply because American combat aircraft are superior than Russian combat jets. It’s that simple. Politics has little to do with it.

          • batavian01

            I have read all these claims and excuses before. You should look at the Su-35 specs versus your beloved F-15. There’s plenty info available online. Your opinion, and it is only your opinion not based on fact, that American jet are superior, is not shared by many, except of course for your fellow Yankee doodle dandies.

          • jeffrey exposito

            The record speaks for itself. In the last 25 years F14 F15 F16 and F18 have destroyed 151 Russian Migs and SUs including 6 Mig29s and 11 Mig25s in aerial combat with only 1 loss. Thats a staggering lopsided advantage for the American side.

            The newest version of the F15 the Silent Eagle is vastly superior to the SU35 with superior range superior radar superior avionics and superior speed. It also carries up to 16 A2A missiles vs 10 for the SU35. In fact Israel and a number of other countries have expressed great interest in acquiring the F15SE. The SU35 is just an updated SU27 with inferior capabilities vis a vis the superior F15SE

          • John Whitehot

            “The record speaks for itself. In the last 25 years F14 F15 F16 and F18 have destroyed 151 Russian Migs and SUs including 6 Mig29s and 11 Mig25s in aerial combat with only 1 loss. Thats a staggering lopsided advantage for the American side”

            Except that it’s always been the US or other western countries against third world nations

          • Samuel Boas

            Stop making excuses for your pathetic overestimated army kid. Face it, you are not the best of the world.

          • John Whitehot

            and in WW1, Fokkers VII enjoyed a superiority over UK/France/US biplanes of several to one.
            Then Germany lost the war.

        • John Whitehot

          Another one that believes every thing they write on Boeing pamphlets.

          the myth of supermaneuvrability has been created by the US as a marketing stunt for 5th gen fighters.

          Also, “What the Russians won’t tell you is that fully combat loaded with weapons and fuel the SU27 is limited to 7.5gs at best” is the ultimate lie, as either you provide data backing that (and small talks from USAF officers or Boeing representatives does not count) or is bullshit

          The F-18E hasn’t anywhere the low speed agility and high AoA capability the SU-35 has, and for that even the Mig-35. As proof, try finding a vid of a F-18E doing a Cobra maneuver. The F-18 will stall its compressors as soon as it departs.

          Arrogantly parroting the same arguments Boeing and Lockheed has repeated since 1992 doesn’t give you any credit, on the other side, it shows do exactly what you accuse others to do (“Russian media trying to sell combat jets”).

          • jeffrey exposito

            Nope. It is true. You load the SU27 or SU35 with weapons and fuel and they perform like dogs with inferior flight characteristics vis a vis an F15 F16 or F18. The tiny F16 in a full combat configuration would run circles around the clunky SU35 in a dogfight. The F16 still maintains 9g AOA vectors while the SU35 falls on its ass Russians can’t fool anyone other then their domestic audience with the circus stunts by the SU35 which are stripped bear with almost no fuel to reduce weight but countries looking to purchase combat aircraft know that those circus stunts are just show. That’s why even after much arm twisting and even attempted bribes from the Russian government the Brazilian government chose the superior tiny Grippen E from Sweden over the SU35S

          • Jan Tjarks

            That Brasilia has chosen the Gripen is a complete different story. You’re telling us a lot of nonsense. Especially, you’re not backing up your claims with any source.

          • jeffrey exposito

            I’m glad that you have seen through the hype and agree that the SU35 is a piece of junk.

          • Jan Tjarks

            If you’re sources are miss-interpreted the same way you miss-interpret my reply than I’m not surprised by your claims.

          • John Whitehot

            you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            first of all vis-a-vis don’t mean shit.
            secondly, it’s your word, no evidence to discuss, no nothing.
            Superior this inferior that.

            to conclude, i believe you are either a zio-troll trying to start flame wars between yanks and russians, or you are a third grader who passes hours on youtube vids on teen fighters.

            either way,when you’ll stop farneticating and discuss something relevant not yet seen on lockheed marketing vids or cnn recounts of desert storm i’ll be gladly talking.

    • Tudor Miron

      Jeffrey, you obviously know very little about modern fighter jets and bvr/wvr air combat. You better talk to seasoned US fighter pilots and ask their opinion. In your wet dreams US planes are superior but in reality your F/A-18E/F had to fire two missiles (sidewinder didn’t work and he had to use amraam) against defensless ancient Vietnam war era bomber. How many jets did US loose in Vietnam war? Can Vietnam be considered a real opponent?
      US dominated against outdated planes in the hands of untrained 3d world country pilots – that’s a fact. If you could dominate against Russia you would already ruin my country as you did with Yugoslavia, Iraq, Livia etc. But you know what’s going to happen :)

    • Jan Tjarks

      I don’t see any sources this claim is based on.

  • Jordan Katz

    People like to trash talk Russian/Soviet military hardware, but they have made some incredibly capable and COST EFFICIENT planes, tanks, subs, and last but not least: firearms. AK-74s ALL DAY LONG!!!

  • Jordan Katz

    Also, I think the Sukhoi-57 is ready now. It’s emergence into the fighter community along with the Chengdu J-20 has officially put an end to the west’s monopoly on stealthy/5th gen aircraft. I’m already expecting hear from people saying “these planes are less stealthy than F-22 & F-35” and while that may be so, (I doubt anyone in the general public knows the true RCS for ANY of these planes) the real question should be: Can they get nailed by a radar guided missile the way a regular 4th gen fighter could? And if that was an issue, then why would anyone put the planes into production without fixing it?

  • AC

    Jeffrey Esposito is your typical American Fox News, USA no 1, chest thumper. Don’t we just hate those retards?

    Carlo Kopp is highly regarded in the avionics field and when presented with Kopp’s assessments, this idiot proceeds to disparage his reputation. Pay him no mind and he will go away.

    Buzz off loser.