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Russia: Our Su-57 Stealth Fighter Can Beat the F-35

Su-57. Image: Creative Commons.

The United States military’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is considered one of the most deadly and capable aircraft anywhere in the world today and it has been suggested it is unrivaled as well. However, at least one Russian test pilot has suggested that the F-35 would be no match for Russia’s own Sukhoi Su-57.

While both are fifth-generation, multirole fighters designed to destroy all types of air, ground, and naval targets, Magomed Tolboyev, a renowned test pilot who celebrated his 70th birthday on January 20, said that the Russian Su-57 would have the advantage were it to face an F-35 in a one-on-one dogfight.

Maneuverability would be the Sukhoi-built aircraft’s greatest advantage, according to Tolkoyev, who boasted that it would not be a close fight either.

“Su-57 will kill [an F-35] easily, should they meet one on one,” Tolboyev told Tass. “The F-35 cannot maneuver, it’s simply incapable. But it does has electronic might.”

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However, even that advantage would be easily disrupted by solar flares Tolkoyev added, noting “This is why I oppose everything electronic.”

A retired major general, Tolboyet is also an honored test pilot and has been awarded the title of Hero of Russia. During his service, he piloted more than 50 types and modifications of Russian military aircraft including the MiG-29, MiG-31, Su-24 and Su-27. In the mid-1980s, Tolboyev also participated in the Energia-Buran space program where he underwent a full training course for manned space flights on multiple-use spacecraft.

Su-57 Fighter

Su-57 Fighter. Youtube Screenshot.

In his career, he also studied the concept of dogfights and it is worth noting that when he was born in 1951, the North American F-86 Sabre took on MiG-15s in such aerial combat sorties over Korea. And while he also praised the Su-57 as a “brilliant plane,” but suggested the time of such one-on-one dogfights are essentially a thing of the past.

“Today, you no longer fight one on one,” Tolkoyev added. “Everything depends on your support. There is electronic warfare today. This is no longer a sparring tatami, but a complex approach to tactical issues.”

The Su-57 is currently entering service with the Russian Air Force. It features supersonic cruising, internal weapon bay, radio absorptive coating, and the newest avionics complex. All of it is beyond the technology that Tolkoyev may be unfamiliar with, and if anything the aircraft’s platform is only getting more advanced.

In December it was announced that the first batch-produced Su-57 fighter was also used for testing of hypersonic weapons at a test flight test center in Akhtubinsk.

Su-57 Felon

Su-57 Felon. Image: Creative Commons.

Additionally, last month, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the Defense Ministry’s board meeting that a total of 22 Su-57 jets would be provided for the Russian armed forces by the end of 2024. Under a contract signed in 2019, a total of 76 Su-57 jets are to be supplied by the end of 2028. Starting from 2022 the Su-57 jets will be equipped with second-stage engines.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



  1. MagaTFumigator

    January 23, 2021 at 8:54 am

    Most 4th Gen aircraft can beat the flying turkey. So that’s nothing to brag about.

    • Doyle

      January 23, 2021 at 12:11 pm

      It was not meant to be a dog fighter in the traditional sense. The SU57 would be a smoldering wreck on the ground before it “saw” the F35.

  2. Chev

    January 23, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    12 have been built, including 10 for testing. Russia is broke, so as with all their military, projects never get completed.

  3. Tom

    January 23, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    First, the SU-57 and F-35 are both fighters, but they’re different Apples. Note that he didn’t say the SU-57 could beat an F-22, a much older air-superiority fighter. If the conflict with an F-35 started off next to the SU-57, the point about maneuverability would have merit. If they were both alone in the skies hunting?

    The SU-57 would be left using that talent for trying to dodge the incoming missiles from the Lightning he never saw.

  4. MagaTFumigator

    January 23, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    Nope, the flying turkey would not see any plane before it because it’s slower with low acceleration and flight ceiling. It’s IRST system is obsolete compared to most pod systems.

  5. Chuck Says Otherwise

    January 23, 2021 at 10:52 pm

    “’Su-57 will kill [an F-35] easily, should they meet one on one,’ Tolboyev told Tass. ‘The F-35 cannot maneuver, it’s simply incapable. But it does has electronic might.’”

    The point of the F-35 is to never, ever have to meet an advisory “one on one.” The future of aerial warfare is “electronic,” and the plane that a has “electronic might” owns the sky. That being said, it can maneuver, and the guy who’s “maneuvering” it will have more time in the sky and better training and tactics than his Russian (and certainly Chinese) advisory.

    Then there’s the issue of, you know, having more than eight Su-57s available at any one time vs the hundreds of F-35s that can be in the air in half-an-hour.

    This man is a dinosaur using dinosaur, mid-20th century metrics to measure an airframe’s lethality. He fundamentally doesn’t understand what the F-35 is – it isn’t a “fighter,” it’s a flying supercomputer optimized to kill. The F-35 changed air dominance forever; going forward, air forces won’t care if a plane can “cobra,” because it won’t ever be necessary to win a fight. Stupid, slow-speed HAA maneuvers have been relegated to air shows, not the battlefield.

  6. John the Constipated

    January 24, 2021 at 9:25 am

    Chuck, but, but, but, I like air shows!????

  7. NorgeX

    January 24, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    “The F-35 changed air dominance forever; going forward, air forces won’t care if a plane can “cobra,” because it won’t ever be necessary to win a fight. Stupid, slow-speed HAA maneuvers have been relegated to air shows, not the battlefield……”

    And so did the F4 Phantom…..until the Migs started gunning them out of the sky, another drawing board, engine and armament upgrades and new tactics were necessary to keep Phantoms in the sky……including…..a gun.
    And so did the Sidewinder missile, and so did the Tomcat, and so did the…etc. etc. etc.

    Those who do not study history are bound to repeat it.
    For some reason, designers of ‘air-superiority’ tech fail to study the mistakes of their predecessors. Which is why, despite the squints, nerds, geeks, and, my favorite…’The Experts’ no one is suggesting the elimination of Top Gun schools. Reason: simple, for every new ‘tech’ there will ALWAYS be a equally new and effective counter-tech, all of which will eventually negate each other.
    Folks even said that ‘the bomb’ would eliminate the need for soldiers, marines and a navy. Yet, we learned very quickly that nukes only destroy, they can not occupy, they cannot control, they cannot dominate any battlefield as long as one guy, with a rifle and bayonet, crawls out of the wreckage and screams “NAH-Nah….you missed me!”
    The same rule will apply to the skies and space: In the end sum ‘game of technology’ in the end there will be one guy, in a flying machine….with a gun.

  8. NorgeX

    January 24, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    I wonder….sooner or later there will be cold-fusion. Within a decade it will be miniaturized, of course computerized, and highly mobile…….with no heat sig, no radiation sig and in a hypersonic stealth aircraft, with no fuel load, just more armament, and unlimited air time……and voila. All current air-superiority aircraft are obsolete. I can V/STOL from anywhere in the world, or perhaps space, and be anywhere in the world in minutes, not hours. I can spend 24/7 over your airfields and kill you on the runway.
    And governments are left to tell the taxpayers “yep we spent x-trillions of dollars over the last 3 decades and it’s all out the window and obsolete………but trust us, we are from the government and we know what we are doing. This next-gen aircraft will make all others obsolete.”

  9. Chuck says otherwise

    January 24, 2021 at 5:50 pm


    I’m well aware of the F-4’s history, and unless I’m mistaken, the F-35 has a gun.

    Not that it will ever have to use it. The F-4 case study was fifty years ago – things have changed considerably, wouldn’t you say so?

    BVR is where all future engagements will be fought – pilots will never see the plane that killed them. The most advanced EW and networked plane will win every single time. You can’t shoot what you don’t see.

  10. Craig S Joksch

    January 24, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    Even if it could, how many can they afford to build?

  11. Legacy Driver

    January 24, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    You people think the Joint Strike Failure is some panacea. It’s not. It’s the world’s most expensive fifth generation A-7.

    It has limited forward quarter stealth and a blowtorch for an engine. A Sukhoi–ANY Sukhoi–from the -27 on up will eat it alive.

  12. L Garou

    March 3, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    Chances of engaging in a dogfight with F-35 are very low.
    The Su-57 would be shot down long before that. Is Su-57 really a 5-th generation aircraft..

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