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Sukhoi Su-35

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Su-35/Su-27M
Su-35 in flight. (3826731912).jpg
A modernized Su-35S of the Russian Air Force
Role Multirole air superiority fighter
National origin Soviet Union / Russia
Manufacturer Sukhoi
First flight Su-27M: 28 June 1988
Su-35S: 19 February 2008
Introduction 2014
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
Produced Su-27M: 1988–1995
Su-35S: 2007–present
Number built Su-27M: 15[1]
Su-35S: 58,[2] 4 for export[3]
Unit cost
US$40 million to $65 million[4][5]
Developed from Sukhoi Su-27
Variants Sukhoi Su-37

The Sukhoi Su-35 (Russian: Сухой Су-35; NATO reporting name: Flanker-E[N 1]) is a designation for two separate, heavily upgraded derivatives of the Su-27 aircraft. They are single-seat, twin-engine, supermaneuverable multirole fighters, designed by Sukhoi and built by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO).

The first variant was designed during the 1980s, when Sukhoi sought to upgrade its high-performance Su-27, and was initially known as the Su-27M. Later re-designated Su-35, this derivative incorporated aerodynamic refinements with increased manoeuvrability, enhanced avionics, longer range, and more powerful engines. The first Su-35 prototype, converted from a Su-27, made its maiden flight in June 1988. More than a dozen of these were built, some of which were used by the Russian Knights aerobatic demonstration team. The first Su-35 design was later modified into the Su-37, which possessed thrust vectoring engines and was used as a technology demonstrator. A sole Su-35UB two-seat trainer was built in the late 1990s that strongly resembled the Su-30MK family.

In 2003, Sukhoi embarked on a second modernization of the Su-27 to serve as an interim aircraft awaiting the upcoming Sukhoi PAK FA. This derivative, while omitting the canards and air brake, incorporates a reinforced airframe, improved avionics and radar and thrust-vectoring engines. In 2008 the revamped variant, erroneously named the Su-35BM in the media, began its flight test programme that would involve four prototypes, one of which was lost in 2009.

The Russian Air Force has ordered 98 production units, designated Su-35S, of the newly revamped Su-35. Both Su-35 models were marketed to many countries, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Korea; only China has so far ordered the Su-35, placing an order for 24 in late 2015. Indonesia expressed an intent to buy between 8-10 Su-35s in 2015, but has yet to sign a final purchase contract. Other countries have since either purchased other aircraft or lost interest in the Su-35. Sukhoi originally projected that it would export more than 160 units of the second modernized Su-35 worldwide, but sales of the Su-35 have been blunted by updated versions of the Sukhoi Su-30, and by the development of stealthy fifth generation aircraft, including Sukhoi's own Sukhoi PAK FA.[6][7]

Design and development[edit]

Redesigned Su-27[edit]

A Russian Knights Su-35 in 2007

The first aircraft design to receive the Su-35 designation had its origins in the early-1980s. At the time, the Su-27 was entering service with the Soviet armed forces in its definitive production version, which has the internal company designation of T-10S. Having entered production with KnAAPO in 1983, this Su-27 version the following year reached operational readiness with the Soviet Air Defence Forces.[8] Known internally as the T-10M, the design effort of the Su-27M was led throughout much of the programme by Nikolay Nikitin, starting in 1982.[9]

A distinguishing feature of the Su-27M design is the addition of canards, which are small lifting surfaces, ahead of the wings. First tested in 1985 using an experimental aircraft, the canards, in complement with the fly-by-wire flight-control system, were the primary reason for the aircraft's manoeuvrability.[8] The canards and the reshaped leading-edge extension redirect the airflow in such a way so as to eliminate buffeting, which reduces the stress on the airframe and allows it to sustain 10-g manoeuvres without the need for additional structural reinforcement.[10] When working with the flight-control system, the aerodynamic layout allows the aircraft to briefly fly with its nose past the vertical. As such, the pilot could theoretically during combat pitch the Su-27M up 120 degrees in under two seconds and fire missiles at the target.[11] Other notable visible changes compared to the T-10S design included taller vertical tails, provisions for in-flight refuelling and the use of two-wheel nose undercarriage to support the heavier airframe.[12][13]

Besides the increase in manoeuvrability, another feature that distinguishes the Su-27M from the original design is the new weapons-control system. The centrepiece of this system is the multi-function N011 Bars pulse-Doppler radar, which is capable of detecting targets below the horizon. First installed on the third prototype, the radar transformed the Su-27M from simply being an air defence aircraft into a multi-role fighter capable of attacking ground targets.[8][14] Compared to the N001 radar of the Su-27, which could only engage one target at a time, the new radar could track fifteen targets and direct missiles towards six of them simultaneously.[8] According to aviation writer Piotr Butowski, the greater weight of the N011 radar meant that more weight was at the front of the aircraft. In turn, he claimed that this necessitated the addition of the canards, and that engineers would only later discover the aerodynamic advantages of these devices.[1] Other changes to the aircraft included the use of marginally-uprated turbofan engines, as well as the increased use of lightweight composites and aluminium-lithium alloys in the aircraft's structure.[12][15]

Testing and demonstration[edit]

Whereas Sukhoi was responsible for the design of the Su-27M, the actual production of the aircraft was carried out by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO), who built fifteen aircraft until 1995. Of the first twelve development aircraft, several of them (including the first) were prototypes converted from T-10S airframes, and so lacked many of the physical alterations of the new design. The first prototype (designated T10M-1) made its first flight after conversion on 28 June 1988, piloted by Oleg Tsoi, followed by the second prototype in January 1989.[1][16] The third aircraft (T10M-3), which was the first new-built Su-27M, made its first flight in April 1992.[17] By then, the Soviet Union had disintegrated, and the the ensuing economic crisis in Russia throughout the 1990s meant that the original plan to mass produce the aircraft between 1996 and 2005 was abandoned, with the aircraft to serve as experimental testbeds to validate the canards, the flight-control system and, most notably, thrust-vectoring technology.[8][12] In addition to the twelve development aircraft, three production Su-27Ms were completed and delivered to the Russian Air Force for weapons testing.[18]

By the time of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Sukhoi had been demonstrating the Su-27M to senior defence and government officials. With its debut to a Western audience at the 1992 Farnborough Airshow, the company redesignated the aircraft as Su-35.[19] The aircraft would subsequently make flying demonstrations overseas in an effort to attract export orders, starting in 1993 with Dubai, where Viktor Pugachev flew it in a mock aerial engagement with an Su-30MK in front of spectators.[10][20] The aircraft thereafter flew in Berlin and Paris, and would be a regular feature at Russia's MAKS Air Show.[20] The Russian government cleared the aircraft for export during Sukhoi's unsuccessful sales campaign in South Korea during the late 1990s and early 2000s.[21]

As the flight test programme of the Su-27M proceeded, engineers discovered that the pilot was not able to maintain active control of the aircraft during certain manoeuvres, such as the Pugachev's Cobra. The eleventh Su-27M (T10M-11) was therefore installed with thrust-vectoring engine nozzles in 1995, and the resultant Su-37 technology demonstrator made its first flight in April 1996.[22][23] Its ability to maintain a high angle of attack while flying at close to zero airspeed attracted considerable public attention.[24] The Su-37 also tested the updated N011M radar, as did the twelfth developmental Su-27M aircraft.[25] It later received different engines and updated fly-by-wire controls and cockpit systems for evaluation.[26]

Apart from the single-seat design, a two-seat aircraft was also constructed. Working in cooperation with Sukhoi, KnAAPO's own engineers designed the Su-35UB so as to combine thrust-vectoring engines with features of the Su-27M. Modified from an Su-30MKK airframe, the aircraft made its first flight in August 2000, and afterwards served as an avionics testbed.[27] While the original Su-35 never entered serial production due to a lack of funding,[28] Sukhoi refined the Su-35's use of canards and the Su-37's thrust-vectoring technology and later applied them to the Sukhoi Su-30MKI.[29] One of the Su-35s, T10M-10, served as a testbed for the Saturn 117 engine intended for the PAK FA jet fighter.[30]

Modernization[edit]

With the need to update Russia's ageing fleet of Su-27 aircraft, Sukhoi in the early 2000s converted existing air force aircraft to include a glass cockpit and an improved weapons-control system to accommodate a larger variety of weapon. The Su-27SM, as the modified aircraft is called, made its first flight in December 2002.[31] The success of this project led Sukhoi to announce in December 2003 a follow-up programme, known internally as T-10BM,[1] aimed at a more thorough redesign of the airframe to narrow the qualitative gap between Russian aircraft and foreign so-called fourth-generation aircraft. The resultant aircraft, which is marketed as Su-35, would serve as an interim solution pending the introduction of the Sukhoi PAK FA fifth-generation fighter,[32][33] many features of which the aircraft would incorporate.[1] Additionally, the aircraft was to be an alternative to the Su-30 family on the export market.[34]

In many respects, the T-10BM design outwardly resembles the Su-27 more than the Su-27M. During tests of the thrust-vectoring engines and the Su-27Ms aerodynamic layout, Sukhoi had assessed that the loss of manoeuvrability due to the removal of the canards – which imposed a weight penalty on the airframe – could be compensated for by the addition of thrust-vectoring nozzles.[35] Industry progress in the fields of avionics and radars have also meant that engineers have reduced the weight and size of such components, which shifted the centre of gravity of an aircraft rearward.[36] Therefore, designers removed the canards (as well as the taller vertical fins and dorsal airbrake) found on the Su-27M. At the same time, the increased use of aluminium and titanium alloys and composites meant that the reinforced airframe, which is similar in empty weight to the Su-27, has a higher maximum take-off weight than that of the Su-27M.[34][36][37]

Su-35S avionics: head-up display, 2 big displays, aircraft control stick and throttle control knobs

While the Su-27M design had the avionics and sensors to give the aircraft the nominal designation as a multirole fighter, flight tests with the Russian Air Force revealed difficulties in efficiently deploying the aircraft's armament. Air force pilots described weapons trials with the aircraft in Akhtubinsk and Lipetsk as a "negative experience". In particular, there were criticisms of the layout of the cockpit and its adverse impact on the workload of the single pilot.[35] With this crucial lesson, Sukhoi had changed the information management system of the avionics suite on the Su-35. The system now has two digital computers which process information from the flight-control system, the radar and various sensors. The information is then displayed on two 9×12 in. multi-function liquid crystal displays,[38] which replaced the three smaller multi-function cathode-ray tube displays found on the Su-27M.[35][39] The pilot can also view critical flight information on the head-up display,[40] and is equipped with HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls.[38]

The Su-35 employs the powerful N035 Irbis-E passive electronically-scanned array radar, which entered development at the same time as the aircraft and constitutes the core of the Su-35's weapons-control system. It is capable of detecting an aerial target up to 400 km (250 mi) away, and can track thirty airborne targets and engage eight of them simultaneously; in addition, the multi-function radar is capable of mapping the ground using synthetic aperture mode.[40] Engineers had also installed an OLS-35 optoelectronic targeting system ahead of the cockpit to provide other forms of tracking including infra-red search and track.[40] In addition to the multitude of air-to-ground weaponry, the multi-role Su-35 can deploy air-to-air missiles of up to 300-kilometre (190 mi) range, and can carry the heavy Oniks anti-ship cruise missile.[41][42]

Thrust vectoring nozzles on a Sukhoi Su-35S

The Su-35 is powered by a pair of Saturn izdeliye (Article) 117S (AL-41F1S) turbofan engines. While based on the AL-31F engine of the Su-27M, it shares the more-powerful core design of PAK FA's Saturn 117 (AL-41F1).[43][44] The aircraft is equipped with thrust-vectoring nozzles, which has their rotational axes canted at an angle, similar to the configuration on the Su-30MKI. The nozzles operate in one plane for pitch, but the canting allows the aircraft to produce both roll and yaw by vectoring each engine nozzle differently. A similar thrust vectoring system is also implemented on the PAK FA.[45] Radar-absorbent material is applied to the engine inlets and the front stages of the engine compressor to halve the Su-35's frontal radar cross-section; the canopy was also modified to deflect radar waves.[46]

The engine reportedly gives the Su-35 the ability to sustain supersonic speed without the use of afterburners.[37] According to Dr. Carlo Kopp of the think tank Air Power Australia, such a "supercruise" feature allows the Su-35 to engage an opponent at a greater velocity and altitude and increases the range of its long-range missiles up to 30–40 percent.[47] He cites the aircraft's mature airframe and carefully-balanced combination of advanced technology as allowing the Su-35 to achieve a favourable exchange rate against the F-35 radar-evading fighter.[47] A RAND Corporation report in 2008 found that the Su-35 could shoot down 2.4 F-35s for every aircraft lost;[48] however, the US Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin had refuted criticisms of the aircraft, claiming that it is 400 percent more effective in air-to-air combat than any other aircraft other than the F-22.[49]

Production and flight testing[edit]

Design work on the Su-35 had been completed by 2007, paving the way for KnAAPO to construct the first prototype in the summer of 2007. Upon completion, Su-35-1 was ferried to the Gromov Flight Research Institute in Zhukovsky Airfield before being placed on static display at that year's MAKS air show.[50][51] At the time, Sukhoi General Designer Mikhail Pogosyan commented that the aircraft was in great demand abroad, saying Russia was negotiating with several prospective customers and that there were plans to export the aircraft starting in 2010.[52][53]

Preparations began for the aircraft's maiden flight immediately following the air show. Particular efforts were made to debug the flight-control system and test the engine. By mid-February 2008, Su-35-1 had been rolled out to conduct taxiing tests. On 19 February, Sergey Bogdan took the aircraft aloft for its first flight from Zhukovsky, accompanied by an Su-30MK2 acting as a chase plane.[50][54] During the 55-minute flight, the pilot took the Su-35 to a height of 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) while carrying tests out on the aircraft's stability, controllability and engines.[50] Bogdan would pilot the second prototype on its maiden flight on 2 October from KnAAPO's Dzemgi Airport.[55][56] The Su-35 had earlier in July made its first demonstration flight in front of Defence Ministry and foreign officials. At the time, Sukhoi estimated that a total of 160 Su-35s would be supplied to customers worldwide, in particular those in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.[57][58]

The second prototype of the modernized Su-35 (Bort 902) at the 2009 MAKS Airshow, where the Russian Defence Ministry placed the launch order for the aircraft

On 26 April 2009, the fourth Su-35 prototype was destroyed at Dzemgi Airport during a taxi run. The aircraft crashed into a barrier at the end of the runway, burned, and was written off. The pilot, Yevgeny Frolov, ejected and was taken to hospital with burns and other injuries.[59][60] The aircraft was expected to be the third flying prototype, with its first flight scheduled on 24 April, which was rescheduled for 27 April.[59] A commission was opened to investigate the crash, but several sources initially speculated that the incident had been the result of a brake failure or a faulty fuel pump.[61][62][63]

During the 2009 MAKS air show, the Russian Defence Ministry signed a US$2.5 billion contract for 64 fighters, which consisted of a 48-aircraft launch order for the Su-35S ("Serial"). The Russian government promised to provide Sukhoi an additional US$100 million in capital, with additional financial assistance from Sberbank and Vnesheconombank, the latter of which was contracted to provide US$109 million to start the production programme.[5][64][65] The Su-35S's estimated price was $40 million each, and the 64-aircraft contract was the largest aircraft order after the collapse of the Soviet Union.[4] All are expected to be delivered by 2015.[66]

In November 2009, KnAAPO started manufacturing the first serial aircraft; Sukhoi estimated that 24 to 30 aircraft would be produced each year from 2010 to 2020.[67][68] On 11 October 2010, the first production Su-35S had completed general assembly;[69] at this point the preliminary flight test programme had logged 350 flight hours across 270 flights using the two remaining flying prototypes. Sukhoi confirmed that the aircraft had fully met all specifications and parameters, including maximum speed, height, radar detection range and manoeuvrability.[70][71] The first Su-35S took its maiden flight in May 2011.[72]

Following preliminary tests, the Defence Ministry was expected to initiate state joint tests involving six Su-35s to further scrutinize systems such as weapons.[73][74] In early 2012, two aircraft were reportedly planned for delivery in 2011, eight in 2012, twelve in 2013 and 2014, and fourteen in 2015.[75] In February 2014, the Russian Air Force received 12 Su-35S aircraft.[76][77] By 2014, 34 of the 48 aircraft originally ordered had been delivered with the remaining 14 due in 2015.[78]

In March 2015, it was reported that Russia and India signed an agreement to jointly develop a fifth-generation upgrade to the Su-35. A Russian industry source stated that the upgraded Su-35S will cost about US$85 million each.[79]

A contract for another 50 Su-35s was signed in August 2015, but parent company United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) stated in January 2016 that delays in finalizing the order was due to a lack of clarity in Russia's 2016 federal budget, which was only signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-December 2015. The fighters will be delivered at a rate of 10 aircraft per year starting in 2016.[80]

Operational history[edit]

Russia[edit]

The first prototype Su-35 in August 2011, when state acceptance trials in Akhtubinsk began

Three production Su-27Ms were completed and delivered to VVS in 1996 for testing.[18] They were operated by 929th State Flight Test Center (abbreviated as GLITS in Russian) at Vladimirovka Air Base, Akhtubinsk, performing weapons trials. During one such flights, a weapon pylon, to which a bomb and rocket were attached, fell into a village in Ryazan; nobody was hurt.[81][82] In 2001, the Air Force decided that the aerobatics team Russian Knights would receive several Su-27Ms, presumably from GLITS and Sukhoi. After pilots from the team undertook conversion course at Vladimirovka AB, the first of five aircraft was delivered to the team in July 2003. It was expected that the Su-27Ms would enhance the flying repertoire of their new owners, but due to various reasons, they were used as a source of spare parts for other aircraft in the demonstration fleet.[82]

In late May 2011, Sukhoi flew the first Su-35S to the Defence Ministry's 929th State Flight Test Centre at Akhtubinsk prior to states joint tests conducted to prepare the aircraft for operational service with the VVS.[83][84] Official trials commenced in mid-August with the two Su-35 prototypes, before being joined by production aircraft. As of March 2012, four Su-35S units were involved in such tests, operating alongside the two flying prototypes.[83][85] These Su-35s had by April and August 2012, completed 500 and 650 test flights, respectively.[85][86]

The first Su-35S for the Russian Air Force, May 2012

On 28 December 2012, Sukhoi delivered a batch of six serial production Su-35S fighters to the VVS. Defence Ministry officials accepted the aircraft at KnAAPO's manufacturing plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia.[87] Five of the six Su-35S delivered in December went to the Gromov Flight Research Institute, where in February 2013 an eighteen-month programme began to test the Su-35's ability to conduct highly maneuverable short-range combat. The programme consists of three components, which are dogfights; the use of weapons and the ability to evade enemy fire; and the ability to destroy helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.[88] State-acceptance trials would conclude in 2015, by which time a second 48-aircraft order is expected to have been signed with the VVS.[89] Another 12 Su-35S fighters were delivered in 2013.[90][91]

In December 2012, Russian officials commented that the Swifts and Russian Knights aerobatics teams would receive new aircraft to replace the Mikoyan MiG-29 and Su-27, respectively. The Swifts was expected to receive the Su-30SM and the Russian Knights receive the Su-35.[92] Russian Air Force received another 12 Su-35S fighters on 12 February 2014 to be deployed with an air regiment based in Russia’s Far East.[77][78]

In January 2016, Russia, for the first time in combat conditions, deployed four Su-35S planes to its Khmeimim airbase; on 1 February the Russian Defence Ministry said the aircraft had begun to participate in the Russian air operations in Syria.[93]

China[edit]

Since the early 1990s, an extensive sales arrangement of the Su-35 to China has been discussed. Sukhoi officials, in 1995, announced their proposal to co-produce the Su-35 with China, contingent on Beijing's agreement to purchase 120 aircraft.[94] However, it was alleged that the Russian Foreign Ministry blocked the sale of the Su-35 and Tupolev Tu-22M bombers over concerns about the arrangements for Chinese production of the Su-27.[95]

In 2006, China was showing interest in the modernized Su-35, and was negotiating with Moscow for a purchase of the fighter.[96][97] At the 2007 MAKS air show, a number of Chinese delegates were seen taking photos and videos of the Su-35 prototypes.[98] In November 2010, Russia, through Rosoboronexport, was ready to resume talks with China on the sale of the Su-35. China reciprocated in 2011 by presenting a proposal on the purchase of the fighter.[99][100]

In March 2012, the Russian media reported that the two countries were in final contract negotiations for 48 Su-35s; the remaining obstacle is reportedly Moscow's demand that Beijing guarantee proper licensing for its Su-35 production.[101][102] China denied this deal because it did not want the Su-35, but only shown slight interest in its 117S engine; at the 2012 Zhuhai Air Show Russia approached China with its 117S engine in a failed attempt to sell Su-35.[103]

In late 2012, it was reported that China wanted to purchase only 24 units, which was less than what Russia deemed to be worthwhile, thus stalling negotiations.[104] By late 2012, the negotiations resumed, this time involving 24 aircraft.[105] During the next three years, negotiations would prove to be protracted, with several false reports claiming that a deal had been reached between the two countries; for example, in March 2013, it was reported that both sides had signed an initial agreement for 24 Su-35s and four submarines prior to Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Russia.[106][107][108] Negotiations concluded in November 2015, when a contract for 24 fighters worth $2 billion, was signed. The first aircraft will be delivered to China in 2016.[109][110][111] One motive for China's purchase of the Su-35 is its thrust-vectoring 117S engine; while China has recently developed modern fighters, its engines still lag behind Russia and the West despite heavy investments by China in domestic engine programs during recent years to catch up.[110][112] The desire to obtain advanced jet engines through the acquisition of the Su-35 is evidenced by the aircraft's marginally better performance in maneuverability, range, and payload compared to domestic fighters like the J-11D while having a less sophisticated PESA radar.[113] According to Russian National Defense magazine, China will not order additional Su-35s but will instead focus on its domestic fighter programs especially its fifth generation fighters.[114]

Indonesia[edit]

Also in September 2015, Indonesia's Ministry of Defence selected the Su-35 to replace the Indonesian Air Force's aging F-5E Tiger II fleet.[115][116] The Su-35 competed with several western fighters including Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, F-16V Viper, and Saab JAS 39 Gripen. As of November 2016, Indonesia were in negotiations with Russia for the purchase of nine or ten aircraft.[117] No contract had been signed by March 2017, although Rostec's Director of International Cooperation and Regional Policy, Viktor Kladov stated that "... the contract for Su-35 ... will be signed in the upcoming months".[118]

On 6 June 2017, Russia and Indonesia announced the contract for an unknown number of Su-35 aircraft was finalized and that it was to be signed later that year.[119][120][121][122] On 12 June 2017, Defense Minister confirmed that Indonesia will buy 10 Su-35s, and Russia's Sukhoi will open a factory for spare parts as with the contract.[123]

Potential operators[edit]

Front view of an Su-35 in-flight

In May 2006, it was reported that Venezuela planned to purchase dozens of Su-30 and Su-35 fighters, and as many as 100 T-90 tanks. There were unconfirmed reports in October 2008 that the Venezuela government had ordered 24 Su-35s for the Venezuelan Air Force.[124][125] In July 2012, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez repeated his interest in acquiring the Su-35 fighters.[126]

In January 2015, North Korea has expressed interest in the fighter. But due to the international sanctions imposed on North Korea the delivery of fighters is unlikely in the near future.[127]

Vietnam and Algeria are also interested in this aircraft. In February 2015, a Su-35 was tested at Tamanrasset Airport in Algeria. According to Kommersant, the Algerian military were satisfied with the fighter's flight characteristics and now Moscow is waiting for a formal application. It is expected that the first phase will focus on the acquisition of at least 12 aircraft.[128][129] Egypt and Pakistan had also expressed interest in ordering the Su-35.[130][131] A Russian official stated the nation was not in talks with Pakistan about the Su-35.[132]

In February 2017, the United Arab Emirates has agreed to purchase a batch of advanced Sukhoi Su-35 fighters from Russia, according to Sergei Chemezov, Chief of Rostec. No other details given about how many Su-35s the UAE has ordered or when the aircraft would be delivered. The UAE also recently signed an agreement to co-develop a new fifth-generation fighter with Russia.[133]

Failed bids[edit]

Brazil[edit]

In 2001, Brazil under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso announced the F-X tender to procure a replacement for its aging aircraft including the Dassault Mirage IIID/E and Northrop F-5. Sukhoi partnered with Avibras to submit the Su-27M for the US$700 million tender that would see at least twelve aircraft delivered to the Brazilian Air Force. Other contenders were the Mirage 2000, F-16, MiG-29, and JAS Gripen.[134][135] Any contract would have been accompanied by an offset agreement that would see the winning bidder provide input to Brazil's aviation industry. Had the Su-35 won, Russia would have purchased 50 Embraer airliners for use by Aeroflot.[134][136] The Su-35 and Mirage 2000 were the front-runners to the program, but the former was favoured for its superior flight characteristics. According to the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, the Su-35 would have been the first heavy supersonic fighter to be delivered to Latin America.[134][137][138] The tender was suspended for much of 2003 as the newly elected President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva focused more on social welfare.[139] The tender was again suspended in 2005, pending the availability of new fighters.[140]

In 2007, Russia submitted the modernized Su-35 for Brazil's relaunched F-X2 competition. The tender this time attracted the participation of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-16BR, Saab JAS Gripen NG, Dassault Rafale, and Eurofighter Typhoon. Brazil was looking to purchase at least 36, and up to 120, aircraft to replace Northrop F-5BRs, Alenia/Embraer A-1Ms, and Dassault Mirage IIIs.[141][142] In October 2008, the Brazilian Air Force selected the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, and Saab Gripen NG as the three finalists.[143] In October 2009, Rosoboronexport declared that Russia would provide 120 Su-35s and full technology transfer to Brazil.[144] The Su-35 was expected re-enter the tender after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed the programme in January 2011 due to fiscal concerns.[141][145][146] In December 2013, the Brazilian government selected the Gripen NG for procurement.[147]

Others[edit]

At the 1996 Seoul Air Show, Russia submitted the Su-35 (Su-27M) and Su-37 for South Korea's F-X procurement programme, a 40-aircraft requirement to replace the Republic of Korea Air Force's F-4D/Es, RF-4Cs, and F-5E/Fs. The Su-35 competed against the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and F-15K Slam Eagle.[148] The proposed Su-35 featured a phased grid radar and AL-31FP vectoring-thrust engines; final assembly would have taken place in South Korea, the offer included a full technology transfer. The US$5 billion contract may have been partially financed through a debt-reduction deal on money Russia owed to South Korea.[149][150] The Su-35 was reportedly the cheapest aircraft to purchase and maintain, however it was eliminated early in the bidding process, along with the Typhoon. The F-15K, viewed as the competition's front-runner due to South Korea's ties with the United States, was chosen in 2002. Reports have claimed that, had South Korea not chosen the F-15K, the United States would have refused to integrate American weapons on the selected aircraft.[148][151][152]

In 2002, Sukhoi offered Su-30 family aircraft to Australia, including the Su-35.[153][154] However Australia opted for the F-35 to replace the F-111 and F/A-18. Russia has offered the Su-35 to India, Malaysia, Algeria and Greece;[155][156] no firm contracts have materialised, with the first three countries having been occupied with other fighter projects and unlikely to procure the modernized Su-35.[70] In 2010, Libya was expected to sign a contract for twelve Su-35s as part of a bigger military transaction that would have included S-300PMU-2 surface-to-air missiles, Kilo-class submarines, and T-90 tanks.[157] The civil war in Libya and the resulting military intervention caused Rosoboronexport to miss out on US$4 billion in arranged contracts as they were never signed.[158][159]

Variants[edit]

Su-27M/Su-35
Single-seat fighter.
Su-35UB
Two-seat trainer. Features taller vertical stabilizers and a forward fuselage similar to the Su-30.
Su-35BM
Single-seat fighter with upgraded avionics and various modifications to the airframe. Su-35BM is informal name.[64][66]
Su-37
Thrust-vectoring demonstrator.
Su-35S
Designation of production Su-35BM version for the Russian Air Force.[64][66]

Operators[edit]

Map with Sukhoi Su-35 operators in blue
 China
 Russia

Future Operators[edit]

 Indonesia

Specifications (Su-35S)[edit]

Irbis-E radar for the modernized Su-35 at MAKS Airshow 2009
GSh-301 cannon in starboard wing root, Su-35, Paris Airshow 2013

Data from KnAAPO,[165][166] Gordon,[167][168] Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2013,[169]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 21.9 m (72 ft 11 in)
  • Wingspan: (with wingtip pods) 15.3 m (50 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 5.9 m (19 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 62 m² (667 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 18,400 kg (40,570 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 25,300 kg (56,660 lb) at 50% internal fuel
  • Max. takeoff weight: 34,500 kg (76,060 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 11,500 kg (25,400 lb) internally
  • Powerplant: 2 × Saturn AL-31F1S afterburning turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 86.3 kN (19,400 lbf) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 142 kN (31,900 lbf) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed:
    • At altitude: Mach 2.25 (2,400 km/h; 1,490 mph)
    • At sea level: Mach 1.13 (1,400 km/h; 870 mph)
  • Range:
    • At altitude: 3,600 km (2,240 mi; 1,940 nmi)
    • At sea level: 1,580 km (980 mi; 850 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 4,500 km (2,800 mi; 2,430 nmi) with 2 external fuel tanks
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 m (59,100 ft)
  • Rate of climb: >280 m/s (>55,000 ft/min)
  • Wing loading:
    • With 50% fuel: 408 kg/m² (84.9 lb/ft²)
    • With full internal fuel: 500.8 kg/m² ()
  • Thrust/weight: 1.13 at 50% fuel (0.92 with full internal fuel)
  • Maximum g-load: +9 g

Armament

Avionics

Montage showing the different phases of an acrobatic maneuver performed by a Sukhoi Su-35 piloted by Sergey Bogdan at the 2013 Paris Air Show.

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The NATO reporting name only applies to the first Su-35 (Su-27M), as that of the modernized variant is unknown.

References[edit]

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