The Su-35 multi-role fighter poses great threat to Western fighter aircraft
The Su-35 is a significantly developed version of the Su-27. Development began in the early 1980s. The aircraft first flew in 1988 and was originally known as Su-27M. It was proposed as a super agile Su-27 primarily for air superiority missions, but also with a greatly expanded air-to-ground capability.
It had a number of improvements in engines, aerodynamics, avionics and construction methods. Later this aircraft was redesignated as the Su-35. It is referred in the West as Flanker-E. Sometimes it is also nicknamed as the Super Flanker. The Su-35 is being proposed as a replacement for Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters. Initial production of the Su-27M commenced in 1988.
Later it was redesignated as the Su-35. However only 12 of these aircraft were completed for the Russian Air Force, including 9 pre-production aircraft. Production ceased in 1995. Improved versions of the Su-35 emerged, including the Su-35BM and Su-35UB. However only the Su-35S, which made its first flight in 2008, became the definitive version, which was produced in quantity.
Some sources report that by 2017 Russian Air Force operated 68 Su-35S aircraft. In 2015 China ordered 24 of these multi-role fighters, becoming the first foreign customer. A first batch of 4 aircraft was delivered to China in 2016. By 2017 a total of 14 aircraft were reportedly delivered. In 2017 Indonesia ordered 11 aircraft however this deal was abandoned.
Developers refer the Su-35 as 4++ generation fighter. Even though it is basically an upgraded version of the Su-27 that made its first flight back in 1977. The Su-35 is a very fast and highly maneuverable fighter with very long range, high altitude capability and heavy armament. It poses a great threat to Western 4+ generation fighters, such as Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, F-15C or F/A-18E Super Hornet. However it is no match for American F-22 Raptor due to the stealthiness.
The Su-35 is built on a proven Su-27 airframe. Its large and powerful engines give it ability to supercruise for a long time. Also its engines allow to reach supersonic speeds without using an afterburner. Engines have a three-dimensional thrust vectoring and make this aircraft very maneuverable. Currently it is the only production fighter to use a two-plane thrust vectoring nozzles. Other thrust-vectoring aircraft, such as F-22 Raptor and Su-30MKI have nozzles that vector only in one plane.
This aircraft can carry 11.5 t of fuel. Long range of the Su-35 allows it to escort Su-24 interdictors.
The multi-role fighter is fitted with advanced avionics, including a passive phased array radar. It also has infrared search and track capability.
The Su-35 is primarily an air superiority fighter. However it has secondary air-to-ground capability. This aircraft can carry enormous amount of ωɛλρσɳs. It has 12 wing and fuselage hardpoints and can carry ordnance with a maximum weight of up to 8 000 kg.
This fighter can carry a mix of short-range R-73E and medium-range R-77 missiles for air combat and various IR and radar homing missiles for ground attack role. Among its inventory there are Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missiles. If required it can carry bombs or pods with unoperated rockets. This fighter aircraft is also fitted with a GSh-301 30 mm cannon, with 150 rounds of ammunition.
The Su-35 can carry an electronic ωαɾfαɾε pod, that gives it a powerful jamming capability. It has been reported that its advanced jammers can reduce performance of enemy radars. It can blind onboard radars found on missiles, such as AIM-120 AMRAAM.
Su-27M initial version, produced between 1988 and 1995. A total of 12 aircraft were built including 9 pre-production aircraft converted from Su-27 airframes and 3 production aircraft. Later the Su-27M was redesignated as the Su-35. This initial version never reached full-scale production.
Su-37 (Western designation Flanker-E). It is a further development of the Su-35. It was fitted with experimental engines with trust vectoring. This aircraft had increased performance and maneuverability. Also avionics and systems of this aircraft were and updated. It was fitted with fly-by-wire control system and improved fire control system. The Su-37 made its maiden flight in 1996.
Only two pre-production technology demonstrators were built due to limited funding and lack of orders. This aircraft was actively proposed for the Russian Air Force as well as export customers. However it received no production orders. In 2002 the first aircraft crashed due to software malfunction, bringing an end to the Su-37 program. Development of this aircraft was stopped.
Later Sukhoi introduced several modernizations of the Su-27 – the Su-30MKI and Su-35BM. Both of these aircraft use the Su-37 technology, such as the thrust vectoring engines, improved radar systems and avionics.
Su-35BM was an improved version of the Su-35. It used some technology of the cancelled Su-37. It was fitted with AL-41F1S thrust vectoring engines, upgraded avionics and radar. Some modifications were made to the airframe. This aircraft lacks canards.
Su-35UB two-seat trainer. It retains full combat capability. A single aircraft was built in the late 1990s. It strongly resembles a Su-30MK fighter.
Su-35S, a further improved version of the Su-35BM. It was the first version of the Su-35, that was produced in quantity. This aircraft is used by the Russian air force and is being proposed for export customers. The aircraft is powered by AL-41F1S engines. This aircraft made its first flight in 2008. In 2012 Russian Air Force ordered a first batch of 48 Su-35S aircraft. At least 4 of these were delivered since 2012. By 2017 a total of 68 aircraft were reportedly delivered. This aircraft was ordered by China and Indonesia.