Lockheed Martin could soon be facing some tough fighter sales competition, and not just from other American defense contractors such as Boeing and Northrop Grumman or European companies.
Here Comes Putin’s Su-57 Stealth Fighter
The export model of the Russian-built Sukhoi Su-57 Felon will reportedly be on display at this week’s Aero India 2021 aviation and aerospace trade show, which is taking place in the Indian city of Bangalore from February 3-5.
A full-size model of the Su-57E has been shipped to showcase the capabilities of the fifth-generation fighter jet, which is also only the second after the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to be offered for international sales.
“If we speak about the Su-57E, this aircraft evokes high interest in many countries because it features unique combat properties and flight characteristics,” Rostec Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Viktor Kladov told TASS on Monday.
“We see that there is the need for next-generation aircraft and there are both a market niche and pre-requisites for the delivery of this plane,” Kladov added.
The announcement that the aircraft would be demonstrated at Aero India 2021 follows news from last week that Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation had released video footage of the first serial-produced Su-57. It had been handed over to the Russian Air Force on Friday and was the first of a reported 76 aircraft that have been ordered – while deliveries for the remaining aircraft over the next several years. It could be until 2028 before the order nears completion.
Aircraft production takes place at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant, which is among the largest aircraft-manufacturing facility in the country. It is located in the Russian Far East and employs more than 13,500 workers.
Su-57 Stealth Fighter Capabilities
The Su-57 was designed as a multi-role fighter that can destroy various air, ground, and naval targets. Developed to combine the functions of an attack plane and a fighter plane, it also was designed to employ stealth technology with board use of composite materials, while being capable of developing supersonic speed.
However, what hasn’t exactly been speedy is the rollout of the aircraft. While about a dozen, including the first serial produced aircraft, have been produced, it has taken nearly a dozen years to reach that point. The Su-57 first took to the skies on January 29, 2010, but it was only last year that the Russian Air Force took delivery of the first advanced aircraft.
One issue repeatedly addressed is that the Su-57 is simply too expensive for cash-strapped Russia to afford the aircraft in significant numbers.
Unlike many other Russian aircraft, the Su-57 hasn’t been exported, but it seems that to help fund the production, the Su-57E could be the answer. It was in September 2020 that Moscow first put the “for sale” sign in the cockpit of the aircraft – and now it is taking the aircraft on the road. The question will be whether buyers can be truly enticed to buy the still unproven aircraft.
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 Amazon.com.