2008: The long promised Russian answer
to the F-22, the Su-35, recently had its first flight. Last Fall, the Russian
Air Force showed off the first of two flyable prototypes of the Su-35. It was
less than two years ago, that Russia announced its long promised Su-35 fighter,
was back in development again.
is an enhanced Su-30 (itself a development of the Cold War era Su-27), and has
been in development for over a decade. At one point, it was called the Su-37,
but the name was changed back to Su-35. A dozen or more Su-35 prototypes have
been built, and apparently no two are identical. The Russians want to sell
Su-35s to China, India and other foreign customers. Apparently Russia now has
the billions of dollars it will take to carry out the Su-35 development program.
India has become a partner, contributing cash, technology and manufacturing
is a 34 ton fighter that is more maneuverable than the original, 33 ton, Su-27,
and has much better electronics. It can cruise at above the speed of sound. It
also costs at least fifty percent more than the Su-27. That would be some $60
million (for a barebones model), about what a top-of-the-line F-16 costs. The
Su-27 was originally developed to match the F-15, which is larger than the
single engine F-16. The larger size of the Su-27/35, allows designers to do a
lot more with it in terms of modifications and enhancements.
is to have some stealth capabilities (or at least be less detectable to most
fighter aircraft radars). Russia is promising a fighter with a life of 6,000
flight hours, and engines good for 4,000 hours. Russia promises world-class
avionics, plus a very pilot-friendly cockpit. The use of many thrusters and
fly-by-wire will produce an aircraft even more maneuverable than earlier Su-30s
(which have been extremely agile).
is not meant to be a direct rival for the F-22, because the Russian aircraft is
not as stealthy. But if the maneuverability and advanced electronics proposed
Su-35 live up to the promises, the aircraft would be more than a match for
every fighter out there except the F-22. If such an Su-35 was sold for well
under $100 million each, there would be a lot of buyers. Russia says it will
begin production, and sales, in three years.