As with the Covid-19 vaccine, Russia has skipped steps in industrial processes to reaffirm its national pride. This has also been the case with the Su-57 fighter project, the first stealth-capable aircraft in the country.
The development program, which has been going on since the past decade, is still in trouble, but that was not enough to prevent the government of Vladimir Putin from declaring the Sukhoi aircraft operational and sending some of them to Syria to test it in combat.
Until it goes into series production, the Su-57 has been used by the Russian Air Force through its pre-series units and test aircrafts. There are about 10 fighters that today have limited military capacity, but serve as propaganda for the country, in overflights and official appearances.
This somewhat uncomfortable situation seems close to ending. Sukhoi revealed this week that the Su-57 assembly line in Komsomolsk-on-Amur has been updated and improved recently and is preparing to start production of 76 units ordered by the Russian government.
The first of them, promised the deputy commander-in-chief of the Aerospace Force, Lieutenant General Sergei Dronov, will be delivered by the end of this year, and the rest by 2028.
Even though it flew in 2010, the Su-57 failed to beat the Chinese fighter Chendgu J-20, which made its maiden flight a year later, but is now in operational condition, with about 50 planes produced.
Although Sukhoi, now part of the UAC group, has enormous experience in the design and manufacture of fighters, the lack of resources has made development slow and fraught with problems, such as engines, whose definitive model was only ready some time ago. The company also experienced a setback in late 2019 when the first production Su-57 crashed in the far east of the country.
The Russian press, however, highlights the fighter’s power and its embedded technology. According to TASS agency, the 5th generation fighter is capable of flying in supercruise (without the use of afterburners), has a powerful on-board computer, an advanced radar system and the internal armament compartment that includes hypersonic missiles.
Sukhoi guarantees that the Su-57 has a low radar signature due to the materials applied to the fuselage, its shape (which resembles that of US fighters) and also the low infrared emission, despite the fighter using common engine outlets.