The pilot first inspects the fighter’s wings that are chock full of munitions and then he blasts off – as if to attack Ukrainian positions – likely in the Donbas as towns in this region have become more decisive in the war. The dark-visored aviator later fires off a missile as his heads-up display lights up.
If this is a Russian recruiting video, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Where Was This Video Taken?
More on Those Missiles
Analyst Rob Lee of Philadelphia’s Foreign Policy Research Institute said the Su-35S Flanker-E was carrying R-77-1, R-73, and Kh-31P missiles. Let’s investigate just what these missiles are and give you more information on the Su-35S.
The Airplane Has Its Wings Filled with Weapons
The R-77-1 is a medium-range air-to-air missile designed to take out enemy airplanes and helicopters, even cruise missiles beyond visual range. The weapon is designed by I.I. Toropov State Engineering Design Bureau and began development in 2003. The missile has active radar guidance and it “autonomously determines the most effective direction of attack,” according to the Dutch Aviation Society. The missile has a range of 68 miles.
The R-73 is a Soviet-era (1973) short-range air-to-air missile. The Drive.com described it as a “combination of an all-aspect infrared seeker, high off-boresight capability, thrust-vectoring controls, and the fact it could be cued by the pilot’s helmet-mounted sight made it an immediate threat and ensured it would be an influential design.”
The Kh-31P is a medium-range anti-radiation missile. This munition is jam-resistant and used to attack enemy anti-aircraft defenses. It has a scram jet with a built-in booster. The missile is equipped with an armor-piercing penetrating warhead.
Su-35S Is a Worthy Adversary
The Su-35S is a fourth-generation “plus-plus” fighter. It is an upgrade of the Soviet Su-27 warplane. The single-seat twin-engine Su-35S is for air superiority and ground strikes. The airplane could be compared to the F-15 Eagle. The Su-35S has an advanced radar that can track up to 30 aerial bogeys and four ground targets at the same time. The Su-35S can carry 17,630 pounds of munitions on 12 hard points along with a 30mm cannon. Its range is over 2,100 miles without refueling.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 24, 2022
The upgraded AL-31F engine can reach a lifecycle of up to 4,000 hours. Avionics are fully integrated with two digital central processing units. There are two large LCD displays along with a heads-up display. Navigation is satellite guided without the need for pinging ground-based systems.
Video Needs to Inspire Russian Pilots Who Are Struggling
The social media video was slickly produced and gives the Russian air force something to hang their hats on after a rocky war in which some of the best airplanes in the fleet are getting shot down by Ukrainian air defenses and fighters. Something is needed to fire up the pilots who likely require something to improve morale.
The anti-radiation missile on this flight shows that Russia is concerned with Ukrainian surface-to-air missiles and would like to eliminate more of these systems to operate better in contested air space. But Russian pilots are going up against their own air defenders like the S-300, they should be able to defeat them. Why they haven’t performed better is a mystery. Maybe Russian pilots are not as good as that video would have you believe.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.