Russia is slated to purchase 76 Sukhoi Su-57 fighter aircraft, the country’s first purported indigenously designed and built fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, by 2028, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on May 15.
“The 2028 arms program stipulated the purchase of 16 such jets,” Putin said during a defense meeting, according to TASS news agency. “We have agreed to purchase 76 such fighters without the increase in prices in the same period of time.”
During the same meeting, Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu noted that the per-unit cost per aircraft and associated equipment went down by 20 percent.
According to the Russian president, no contract for the 76 Su-57 fighter jets has been signed.
“In the nearest future we will sign a package contract to supply 76 such jets equipped with modern weapons of destruction and provided with the necessary land infrastructure,” the president said yesterday.
Three aviation regiments of the Russian Air Force are expected to receive the Su-57. The service is slated to officially take delivery of the first Su-57 this year.
During a recent flight to the 929th Chkalov State Flight-Test Center in Russia’s southwestern Astrakhan region, Putin’s IL-96-300PU presidential plane was escorted by six Su-57.
There are currently 10 Su-57 prototypes undergoing various stages of testing and evaluation with the Russian Air Force. Two Su-57 aircraft are expected to be delivered to the service in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Notably, the aircraft will not enter serial production until 2020, as I reported previously. This has principally to do with delays surrounding the Su-57s engine. The Saturn izdeliye 30 will not be ready for serial production until at least 2020.
The new engine features increased thrust and fuel efficiency and is reportedly fitted with 3D thrust vectoring nozzles. All of the 10 Su-57 prototypes have been fitted with a derivative of the Russian-made Saturn AL-41F1S engine, the AL-41F1, an older aircraft engine also installed on the Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E.
The Su-57 lacks high-end low-observable design features and the aircraft’s sensor suite and other mission systems continue to suffer from developmental issues. The aircraft also reportedly cannot carry some of Russia’s most advanced air-launched weapons systems, including the BrahMos-A and KH-35UE, in its internal weapons bay, turning the missiles into radar cross section hotspots.
Overall, the Su-57 should not be be compared with fifth-generation aircraft such as Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor in terms of stealth capabilities. Notably, the Su-57s primary mission will also likely not consist of penetrating sophisticated integrated air defense networks, but rather to defend Russian airspace with standoff weaponry in the event of conflict.
Russia is looking to export the fighter jet abroad. The Russian government is expected to offer the Su-57 to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the Indian Air Force, and the Turkish Air Force (TAF), following approval of the export variant of the Su-57, designated Su-57E, by the Russian president.