The Russian Air Force is expected to receive the first serial-produced Su-57 fighter aircraft, Russia’s first purported indigenously designed and built fifth-generation stealth fighter, by the end of this year, Deputy Defense Minister, Alexei Krivoruchko, told reporters during a visit to the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Komsomolk on-Amur aircraft plant in the Russian Far East this week.
The Su-57, recently named the “Felon” by NATO, is “almost ready” to be handed over to the air force, the deputy defense minister was quoted as saying on November 8 by the state-operated domestic news agency RIA Novosti. According to TASS news agency, the defense minister said during the same visit that the aircraft is “actually ready for its delivery to the troops.”
Initially, the service was expected to take delivery of two Su-57s in 2019 and two more in 2020.
In June, Krivoruchko announced that UAC is ready to mass-produce the Su-57 fighter jet with full-scale serial production set to begin some time in 2020. The following month the Russian government announced that production of the Su-57 has officially begun without offering details. As I wrote previously, one of the reasons for delayed serial production has been technical issues surrounding the Su-57s engine, the Saturn izdeliye 30:
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.
In May 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the air force will receive 76 Su-57s by 2028. A contract to this effect was signed this July. Notably, the previous year the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) had announced that it will not serial-produce the Su-57.
One reason cited for the reversal of the MoD decision reportedly has been reduction of per-unit cost of Su-57 and associated equipment, which purportedly went down by about 20 percent.
The Su-57 took to the skies for the first time in 2010. The Russian Air Force is currently testing 10 Su-57 prototypes, four of which reportedly conducted combat missions in Syria.
India withdrew in 2018 from the co-development and production of the Su-57, known in India as the Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF).