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Suggested Su-57 production pace looks realistic

The Russian Aerospace Forces are to be reinforced. Su-57 fighter jets of the fifth-generation will be procured in a major series, the Vzglyad business newspaper said.

Suggested Su 57 production pace looks realistic Su-57 (Picture source: Dmitry Zherdin)

The formal comparison of the fifth-generation aircraft in Russia and potential adversaries has produced a dual impression so far. On the one hand, Russia caught up with the United States by designing Su-57. The Pentagon accepted into service close to two hundred fifth-generation F-22 jets yet in mid-2000s.

On the other hand, Russia operates only a few Su-57. The USA and allies launched the next program and complemented F-22 with four hundred F-35.

Russia responded to the developments with fighter jets of generations 4+ and 4++ which could partially ensure parity with NATO. They included Su-35S, Su-30SM and Su-34. They were all designed on the basis of successful Su-27.

The separation of aircraft by generations is formal in many ways. The difference in combat capabilities between generations 4+, 4++ and 5 is less then between the first and second or the second and third generations of fighter jets. Nevertheless, there are all grounds to say that Russia lags behind the United States and NATO in fighter jet parity.

However, the parity definition between Russia and NATO should not be considered in thousands of NATO jets against several hundred Russian ones. The Russian military doctrine is defensive and calls for unacceptable retaliatory damage to the aggressor. In contrast to the USSR, Russia has no plans to advance to the Channel and all speculations about it are groundless. This is the background for assessing whether the supplies of 76 Su-57 are necessary and sufficient.

The absence of Su-57 would make the standoff with NATO more dangerous for Russia with time. If previous-generation jets are reinforced by several Su-57 regiments, the standoff will be different.

Any potential adversary will have to engage a big number of aircraft to destroy or weaken the Russian airpower. It means that NATO will have to engage the whole fleet of the alliance against Russia. Otherwise, Su-57, AEW aircraft, ground radars, air tankers, a broad network of airfields, air defense and previous-generation jets can make NATO lose.

Such an accumulation of NATO aircraft against Russia transfers the potential conflict to another level when the engagement of strategic nuclear forces becomes a likely retaliation.

Su-57 mission is to inflict unacceptable damage to the aggressor and bring the possible conflict to a global level. The mission is quite possible for 76 Su-57 against 600 F-22 and F-35.

The suggested production pace calls to supply 76 Su-57 in nine years up to 2028 and looks realistic. It means the troops will annually receive eight-nine Su-57 from 2020. It is a major difference from previous 16 aircraft in ten years.

Naturally, Su-57 will be gradually supplied to the troops, as previous-generation aircraft are decommissioned. It is planned to scrap all Su-24M bombers beginning from 2020 which will increase the load on other craft.

The first batch of Su-57 will be equipped with the first-phase engine. The second-phase engine or unit 30 has to be ready by 2023. Serial Su-57 supplies with the new engine would follow and the first jets are likely to be upgraded.

Thus, the massive procurement of Su-57 is definitely a step in the right direction to provide a new quality to the Aerospace Forces, the Vzglyad said.

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