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The Sukhoi Su-57 – Russia’s Answer to the F-35 or a Big Mistake?

Russia's Su-57 Stealth Fighter
Image: Creative Commons.

Was the Su-57 Russia’s Big Stealth Fighter Mistake? – Moscow has continued to tout the capabilities of its Sukhoi Su-57 (NATO reporting name “Felon“), and there have been claims made that it could rival the United States military’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. It has been seen as a potentially dangerous adversary in the sky as it combines stealth and speed with advanced weapons and state-of-the-art sensors.

Developed by Sukhoi Design Bureau and the Russian Aircraft Corporation as part of the Russian Air Force’s PAK FA fifth-generation fighter jet program, the aircraft has been slower to arrive than Moscow may have initially planned. However, the Su-57 will eventually replace the Russian military’s MiG-29 and Su-27 fourth-generation aircraft.

It was the first Russian aircraft to utilize stealth technology, while it was further designed to have supercruise, supermaneuverability and advanced avionics to overcome attacks from the prior generation fighter aircraft as well as ground and naval defenses. Development of the advanced Su-57 began in 2002, but the aircraft only took its first flight on January 29, 2010. The Su-57 is essentially an evolution of the Su-27 Flanker’s shape, modernized for low radar observability while providing even greater maneuverability.

The Felon was initially powered by Izdeliye 117 or AL-41F1 augmented turbofans, while current production batches have begun to incorporate the new Izdeliye 30 engines. The Su-57 is now capable of maintaining a supersonic range of more than 1,500 km – two times that of the Su-27. Because of its improved aerodynamics, the Su-57 can even cruise at Mach 2 without afterburners and has a range of up to 3,500 km while flying at subsonic speeds.

Su-57 – Multirole Fighter

The single-seat, twin-engine multirole Su-57 combines the functions of an attack plane and a fighter jet while the use of composite materials and innovative technologies, along with the fighter’s aerodynamic configuration, ensure that it has a low level of radar and infrared signature. The use of composite materials has reduced the number of parts, but also the overall weight of the aircraft.

In addition to its speed and low radar signature, the Sukhoi Su-57 is a well-armed and combat-capable aircraft. During the August 2013 MAKS Air Show outside of Moscow, the aircraft’s manufacturer highlighted the fighter’s weapons platforms, including missiles that could be fitted into the fighter’s voluminous weapons bays or under its wings and fuselage. The aircraft features two large internal weapons bays arranged in tandem, which run nearly the entire useable length of the aircraft.

Each of those bays can carry up to four K-77M beyond visual range (BVR_ radar-guided missiles. Compared to earlier versions of the K-77 (NATO nickname: AA-12 Archer) the K-77M missile has a larger body and active electronically-scanned array radar seeker, allowing it to engage highly agile targets at ranges of up to 100 miles. The aircraft also stores a pair of K-74M2 short-range infrared-guided missiles in underwing fairings. Russia has announced plans to arm the aircraft with the new R-37M long-range hypersonic missile.

Electronic Co-Pilot

The fifth-generation fighter is also reported to be furnished with the most advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful onboard computer, which has been described as an “electronic second pilot,” the radar system spread across its body and some other innovations, in particular, armament placed inside its fuselage. The Sukhoi Su-57 further utilizes a missile-spoofing turret designed to protect the fighter from infrared-guided missiles. Exactly how successful that could be on a high-flying fighter is unknown, as it has previously largely been employed only on transports and helicopters. Until it was deployed on the Su-57, a spoofing turret never has been placed on the ventral side of an aircraft.


Image: Creative Commons.

Russia New Stealth Fighter

Image of Russia’s Su-57 fighter. Creative Commons.


Su-57. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Su-57 is also incorporated with 3D thrust vectoring controls that Airforce-Technology reported provides improved maneuverability at high speeds, and which is reported even better than the United States Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. That could give the Russian pilots an edge in close-range dogfights.

Su-57 – Is It Really a Fifth Generation Fighter?

Despite the hyped capabilities of the Su-57, some aviation experts have suggested that the aircraft has many of the attributes commonly found in modernized fourth-generation fighters such as the Boeing F-15EX. The Su-57 has also been widely seen as the least stealthy of the current operational fifth-generation fighters.

In addition, despite continued Russian efforts to find an export market for the Felon, it is unlikely that Moscow will be able to reach a full rate of production before the end of the decade.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

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. Ashli Babbitt deserved that bullet

    May 6, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    This thing is DOA. The RUS-Nazis don’t have the means to make decent tanks or aircraft after the Soviet Union fell apart.

    • Buki

      May 7, 2022 at 3:33 am

      I am sure su57 will not live up to all the hype and will be destroyed easily and fall from the skies like a boulder.R ussia weapons are dated and well below par for the course this includes its over rated weapons and pathetic army.

  2. Alex

    May 6, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    Even I admit the Su-57 was a mistake.

    • Him

      May 7, 2022 at 9:04 am

      Do you admit that Russia being allies with Nazi Germany at the start of WW2 was a mistake? Then why no change in Russia’s behaviour? Repentance of errors must lead to change of behaviour. So far, Russia’s actions in Ukraine is identical to what Hitler did, attacking free countries.

      Nazi propaganda accuses the other side of doing what itself is doing.

      • Thomas Snow

        May 7, 2022 at 11:32 am

        Remember WW2 when the Germans went miles into Russia hanging men women and CHILDREN from the light poles trees and cables! Murdering and raping the Russian people all the way to the boarder of Stalingrad! Just like there doing to a non violent country! Except the RUSSIANS asked for ( our ) help❗please send tanks millatary guns tank killer and (WAR PLANES❗)

  3. CK

    May 6, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    WOOOOOAH, What? Alex are you OK?

    Seriously, in all seriousness now, no trolling (from me or you) 100% honesty from one human being to another – why do you think it was a mistake?

  4. Leethal

    May 6, 2022 at 11:50 pm

    IF you study Russian military history they have a habit of lying about their capabilities. Communism cannot create anything of value due to the backward nature of a forward crawling theft machine called communism.

    The only thing it creates well is LOTS of lies.

  5. Patrico

    May 7, 2022 at 3:48 am

    Peut être des mensonges ? Mais une bête de combat Sky sûrement,
    Surtout avec son futur petit frère le SU 75 en version effecteur UAVs ! Vite une démo a Dubaï ! Sur Youtube bien sûr!
    Thank you merci a Tous !

  6. Andrew M Winter

    May 7, 2022 at 9:37 am

    The SU – 57 would have been a great competitor to the FA/18s. It is a good solid bird.

    But can we PLEASE cut the HYPE. They have made 15 of them, where the F-35 numbers in the hundreds. ONLY 5 production birds have made it into service and one of those burned up in a crash.

    IT IS A GREAT CONCEPT! But, Russia can’t afford to produce it. And technologically it is just too late to the game. By the time this thing sees any kinds of numbers in the field the US and other Western Nations will be doing things we can’t even imagine yet.

    • Patrico

      May 7, 2022 at 3:23 pm

      A.M.H un peu daccord avec vous sur vos premieres lignes , les Russes sont des créateurs de renoms dans l Aéronautique et dernierement surement les Premiers en news Aérodynamique avec le SU 75! Mais ils n ont pas les Dollars qui coulent à flots Certes! Pour perséverer. Mais ! Vous faite une énorme erreur sur vos 2 dernières lignes ! Ce n est pas l Occident qui va faire des choses extraordinaires! et vous le savez ou ne voulez le dire ! C est la Chine , qui observe actuellement de très prés la Russie son “alliée” car elle a des ressources incommensurables que l Occident et ses Armées de Pensants de veulent pas voir. Mais simple remarque, donc a suivre ….
      Merci Thank you merci a Tous !

  7. Alex

    May 7, 2022 at 10:35 am

    SU-57 is an aircraft of a new era. It is not intended for war with the F-35 or F-22. The SU-57 is not in mass production, but the SU-57 is the best that could come up from the 5th generation.

    • Steve

      May 7, 2022 at 10:39 pm

      The SU-57, best of a new era, Alex? It isn’t the best of anything CURRENT letalone of a new era.
      Its lack of real stealth would see it blown out of the sky almost as quickly as the SU-25s and KA-52s over in Ukraine. Its engines don’t match those of an F-15, let-alone an F-22. The major thing it has going for it is its maneuverability and IRST – And you can see for yourself in the skies over Ukraine what maneuverability and IRST without stealth gets ya.

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