Source: Gladius Defense & Security
Turkish government officials, including President Tayyip Erdogan, recently examined Sukhoi’s Su-57. The firm’s flagship air superiority fighter was featured at the MAKS airshow held in Zhukovskiy, Russia. The Turkish delegation also received information on the Su-35 and Su-30 as a potential alternatives to the Lockheed Martin F-35A.
A decision to upgrade Turkish air defenses with the Russian S400 SAM system, manufactured by the Fakel Machine-Building Design Bureau, resulted in the US government delaying a long planned F-35 sale.
Advertised as a counter to the Lockheed Martin F-35, the twin-engine multi-role Su-57 is significantly less capable. Originally designed as a replacement for the Su-27 in Russian Air Force service, the aircraft is advertised to encompass stealth characteristics similar to the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35. Despite a lack of stealth the aircraft’s design, internal weapons storage reduces radar signature. The aircraft is capable of utilizing Kh-35, Kh-38 and Kh-59 guided missiles in the air-to-ground role and R-73 in the air-to-air role.
The Su-57 has a higher service ceiling of 65,000 ft (20,000 m) compared to 50,000 ft (15,240 m) for the F-35A and longer range of 1,890 nm (3,500 km) in contrast to 1,200 nm (2222 km) for the F-35A. Despite excelling in these areas, the F-35A has far more sophisticated avionics such as the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 radar. The F-35 also has a proven combat record dating to 2018. Should Turkey to remain barred from purchasing the F-35, the Su-57 may be the only viable alternative, yet a significant reduction in capability.
The Su-57 would provide a new platform for standard air defense, possibly easing integration with the S400. Air superiority along with anti-ship and air-to-ground capabilities would enhance the existing inventory of Lockheed Martin F-16C/D and McDonnell Douglas F-4G. Once development and testing are completed, the Turkish Aerospace Industries TF-X is expected to replace the nation’s F-16 inventory, however western systems predominantly used in the aircraft will make integration with the Su-57 challenging. It is likely more announcements related to Turkey’s interest in the Su-57 will be released over the next 18 months.
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