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Sukhoi Su-57

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Sukhoi T-50 Maksimov.jpg
A prototype of the Su-57 in flight at the MAKS 2011 air show.
Role Stealth air superiority fighter
National origin Russia
Manufacturer Sukhoi
First flight 29 January 2010[1]
Introduction 2019 (planned)[2][3]
Status Final flight testing[4]
Primary users Russian Air Force
Russian Navy[5]
Produced 2009–present
Number built 10 flyable prototypes[6][7][8]
Program cost US$8–10 billion (est.)[9][10][11]
Unit cost
T-50: US$50 million[12]
Variants Sukhoi/HAL FGFA

The Sukhoi Su-57 (Russian: Сухой Су-57)[13] is the designation for a stealth, single-seat, twin-engine multirole fifth-generation jet fighter being developed for air superiority and attack operations.[14] The aircraft is the product of the PAK FA (Russian: ПАК ФА, short for: Перспективный авиационный комплекс фронтовой авиации, translit. Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii, lit. ''prospective aeronautical complex of front-line air forces''), a fifth-generation fighter programme of the Russian Air Force. Sukhoi's internal name for the aircraft is T-50. The Su-57 is planned to be the first aircraft in Russian military service to use stealth technology.

The fighter is designed to have supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and advanced avionics to overcome the prior generation fighter aircraft as well as ground and naval defences.[15][16] The Su-57 is intended to succeed the MiG-29 and Su-27 in the Russian Air Force.[17]

The prototypes and initial production batch are to be delivered with a highly upgraded variant of the Lyulka AL-31 engine used by the Su-27 family as an interim powerplant while an advanced clean-sheet design engine, the Saturn izdeliye 30, is currently under development. The aircraft is expected to have a service life of up to 35 years.[18] Its first flight took place on 29 January 2010.



In 1979, the Soviet Union outlined a need for a next-generation aircraft intended to enter service in the 1990s. The project was designated the I-90 (Russian: Истребитель, Istrebitel, "Fighter") and required the fighter to have substantial ground attack capabilities and would eventually replace the MiG-29s and Su-27s in frontline tactical aviation service. The subsequent programme designed to meet these requirements, the MFI (Russian: МФИ, Russian: Многофункциональный фронтовой истребитель, Mnogofunksionalni Frontovoy Istrebitel, "Multifunctional Frontline Fighter"), resulted in Mikoyan's selection to develop the MiG 1.44.[19] Though not a participant in the MFI, Sukhoi started its own programme in 1983 to develop technologies for a next-generation fighter aircraft, resulting in the S-37, later designated Su-47. Due to a lack of funds after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the MiG 1.44 programme was repeatedly delayed and the first flight of the prototype did not occur until 2000, nine years behind schedule.[19] The MiG 1.44 was subsequently cancelled and a new programme for a next-generation fighter, PAK FA, was initiated. The programme requirements reflected the capabilities of Western fighter aircraft, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-22 Raptor. In 2002, Sukhoi was selected over Mikoyan as the winner of the PAK FA competition and would lead the design of the new aircraft; Mikoyan continued to develop its proposal as the LMFS (Russian: ЛМФС, Russian: Легкий многофункциональный фронтальный самолёт, Liogkiy Mnogofunktsionalniy Frontovoi Samolyet, "Light Multifunctional Frontline Fighter") which was designed to be smaller and more affordable.[20][21]

To reduce the PAK FA's developmental risk and spread out associated costs, as well as to bridge the gap between it and older previous generation fighters, some of its technology and features, such as propulsion and avionics, were implemented in the Sukhoi Su-35S fighter, an advanced variant of the Su-27.[22][23] The Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association (NAPO) is manufacturing the new multi-role fighter at Komsomol'sk-on-Amur along with Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO), and final assembly is to take place at Komsomol'sk-on-Amur.[24][25] Following a competition held in 2003, the Tekhnokompleks Scientific and Production Center, Ramenskoye Instrument Building Design Bureau, the Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design (NIIP), the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant (UOMZ) in Yekaterinburg, the Polet firm in Nizhny Novgorod and the Central Scientific Research Radio Engineering Institute in Moscow were selected for the development of the PAK-FA's avionics suite. NPO Saturn is the lead contractor for the interim engines; Saturn and MMPP Salyut will compete for the definitive second stage engines.[26]

On 8 August 2007, Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief (CinC) Alexander Zelin was quoted by Russian news agencies that the programme's development stage was complete and construction of the first aircraft for flight testing would begin, and that by 2009 there would be three fifth-generation aircraft ready.[27][28] In 2009, the aircraft's design was officially approved.[20]


Sukhoi T-50 in flight with landing gear deployed, 2010

In 2007, Russia and India agreed to jointly develop the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft Programme (FGFA) for India.[29][30] In September 2010, it was reported that India and Russia had agreed on a preliminary design contract where each country was to invest $6 billion; development of the FGFA fighter was expected to take 8–10 years.[31] The agreement on the preliminary design was to be signed in December 2010.[32] India planned on acquiring a modified version for its FGFA programme. It originally planned on buying 166 single-seat and 48 two-seat fighters,[33] but later changed it to 214 single-seat fighters,[34] and later decreased its purchasing size to 144 fighters by 2012.[35][36] In early 2018, India pulled out of the FGFA project, which it believed did not meet its requirements for stealth, combat avionics, radars and sensors by that time.[37] This news lead some observers to question the future of the whole Su-57 project.[38]

The Russian Air Force was expected to procure more than 150 fighters for PAK FA with the first fighter to be delivered in 2016.[39][40] In 2011, the Russia's Ministry of Defence planned on purchasing the first 10 evaluation aircraft after 2012 and then 60 production standard aircraft after 2016.[41] In December 2014, the Russian Air Force planned to receive 55 fighters by 2020.[42] Russian Deputy Minister of Defence Yury Borisov stated in 2015 that the Air Force would slow production, reduce its initial order to 12 fighters, and retain large fleets of fourth-generation fighters due to the nation's economy.[43][44][45]

Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev stated that the fighter planned to enter serial production in 2017, after all trials would be completed.[46] In 2017, Deputy Minister Yury Borisov stated that the Su-57 would most likely enter service in 2018, due to implementation of more advanced engines, and further testing. He also stated that it would be part of the new 2018-2027 state armament programme. Actual number of aircraft to be delivered is yet unknown.[47]

On 30 June 2018, it was reported that an order for 12 aircraft was agreed,[48][49][2] with deliveries to the ranks of the Russian Armed Forces starting in 2019. The first aircraft will join fighter regiments at the Lipetsk Air Center.[3] At the same time, the Deputy Prime Minister for Defence and Space Industry Yury Borisov stated that "Today, the Su-35 is one of the world's best fighters, so there is no reason for us to speed up work on mass production of the fifth-generation fighter."[50] Borisov's statement caused confusion among observers. Some interpreted the fifth generation fighter he referenced as the FGFA, the exported variant of the Su-57, while others interpreted it to be directly alluding to the Su-57 itself. This also led to predictions and concerns about the project's future: some have interpreted it as reiteration that the Su-57 program would continue as previously planned, others interpreted it as the Su-57 program would not be mass-produced, and some believe it to be an implicit announcement of the project's cancellation.[2][51][52] The slowing of procurement could be because of the current slow growth of the Russian economy, while the future patches' procurement are for an unknown future; the Russian military could be waiting for the more powerful Saturn izdeliye 30 engine to be ready for serial production.[53]

On 22 August 2018, during the International Military-Technical Forum «ARMY-2018», the Russian Ministry of Defence and the JSC Sukhoi signed the first contract for delivery of two serial Su-57s. The deliveries of the two aircraft are scheduled for 2019 and 2020 respectively.[54] The Russian Ministry of Defence plans to sign a second contract for delivery of 13 aircraft in 2020.[55]

Initial flight testing[edit]

T-50 at the MAKS 2011 air show

The prototype's maiden flight was repeatedly postponed from early 2007 after encountering unspecified technical problems. In August 2009, Alexander Zelin acknowledged that problems with the engine and in technical research remained unsolved.[56] On 28 February 2009, Mikhail Pogosyan announced that the air-frame was almost finished and that the first prototype should be ready by August 2009.[57] On 20 August 2009, Pogosyan said that the first flight would be by year's end. Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy head of the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies said that "even with delays", the aircraft would likely make its first flight by January or February, adding that it would take five to ten years for commercial production.[58]

Flight testing was further delayed when Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov announced in December 2009 that the first trials would begin in 2010.[59] The first taxi test was successfully completed on 24 December 2009.[60][61] Flight testing began with T-50-1, the first prototype aircraft, on 29 January 2010.[62] Piloted by Hero of the Russian Federation Sergey Bogdan, the aircraft's 47-minute maiden flight took place at KnAAPO's Dzemgi Airport in the Russian Far East.[63][64]

T-50 climbing after takeoff, 2011

The second aircraft was to initially start flight testing in late 2010; this was delayed until early 2011.[65][66][67] On 3 March 2011, the second prototype, T-50-2, completed a 44-minute test flight.[65] The first two prototypes lacked radar and weapon control systems.[68] On 14 March 2011, the fighter achieved supersonic flight at a test range near Komsomolsk-on-Amur.[69] The T-50 was displayed publicly for the first time at the 2011 MAKS Airshow.[70][71] On 3 November 2011, the fighter reportedly performed its 100th flight.[72] More than 20 test flights were made in the next nine months.[73]

On 22 November 2011, the third prototype, T-50-3, took its first flight from KnAAPO's airfield in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, piloted by Sergey Bogdan. The aircraft spent over an hour in the air, and was subjected to basic stability and power-plant checks.[74] It differs from the other prototypes in the way it lacks a pitot tube. At this time all 14 test aircraft were expected to fly by 2015.[75] T-50-3 was the first prototype to fly with an AESA radar. Originally scheduled for the end of 2011, these flights occurred in August 2012, and showed performance comparable to existing radars.[76][77]

The fourth prototype had its first flight on 12 December 2012[78] and joined the other three aircraft in testing near Moscow a month later.[79][80] By the end of 2013, five prototypes were flown, with the fifth prototype having its first flight on 27 October 2013; with this flight the programme has amassed more than 450 flights.[81] The first aircraft for State testing was delivered on 21 February 2014.[82]

The fifth prototype, T-50-5 hull number 055, was severely damaged by an engine fire after landing in June 2014. The aircraft was returned to flying condition after cannibalizing components from the unfinished sixth prototype.[83]

The sixth prototype first flew on 27 April 2016.[84]

List of prototypes[edit]

Designation Fuselage number Notes
T-50-0 Prototype for static ground testing
T-50-KNS Prototype for integration testing
T-50-1 051 First flyable prototype; first flight on 29 January 2010.[62][85]
T-50-2 052 Second flyable prototype; first flight on 3 March 2011,[85] first supersonic flight on 24 March.[86] First prototype flight-tested with an izdeliye 30 engine, first flight on 5 December 2017.[87]
T-50-3 053 Third flyable prototype; first flight on 22 November 2011.[85] In 2012, became the first prototype to be equipped with AESA radar, first tested in flight on 8 August 2012.[88]
T-50-4 054 Fourth flyable prototype, and the first one equipped with the complete set of avionics; first flight on 12 December 2012.[88][85]
T-50-5 / T-50-5R 055 Fifth flyable prototype, first flight on 27 October 2013.[88][85] Heavily damaged by fire in June 2014, repaired and renamed to T-50-5R, first flight after repairs on 16 October 2015.[89]
T-50-6 Cannibalized for parts to repair T-50-5.[88]
T-50-6-1 Second-stage prototype[N 1] for static ground testing.
(also called T-50-6[6])
056 Sixth flyable prototype (first flyable second-stage[N 1] prototype); first flight on 27 April 2016.[84] The fuselage cover panels are partially replaced by composite materials. The rear part of the fuselage (in which the EW complex is located) was elongated, the shape of the lower fuselage in the tail section, the hatches and technological holes were also changed.[90][91]
T-50-8 058 Seventh flyable prototype (second flyable second-stage[N 1] prototype); first flight on 17 November 2016.[88][6]
T-50-9 509 Eighth flyable prototype (third flyable second-stage[N 1] prototype); first flight on 24 April 2017.[6][92] Testing final version of avionics intended for serial production.[6]
T-50-10 510 Tenth flyable prototype, first flight on 23 December 2017. It is supposed to be the last prototype.[93][94]
T-50-11 511 Ninth flyable prototype, first flight on 6 August 2017.[7] Testing version of the airframe intended for serial production.[6]



Prototype T-50 flying upside down
T-50 aerodynamic condensation at MAKS-2015

The Su-57 is intended to be a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft and the first operational stealth aircraft for the Russian Air Force. Although most information is classified, sources within the Sukhoi company and Defence Ministry have openly stated that the aircraft is to be stealthy, supermaneuverable, have supercruise capability, incorporate substantial amounts of composite materials, and possess advanced avionics such as active phased-array radar and sensor fusion.[16][25][95]

The Su-57 has a blended wing body fuselage and incorporates all-moving horizontal and vertical stabilizers; the vertical stabilizers toe inwards to serve as the aircraft's airbrake. The aircraft incorporates thrust vectoring and has adjustable leading–edge vortex controllers (LEVCONs) designed to control vortices generated by the leading edge root extensions, and can provide trim and improve high angle of attack behaviour, including a quick stall recovery if the thrust vectoring system fails.[96] The advanced flight control system and thrust vectoring nozzles make the aircraft departure-resistant and highly maneuverable in both pitch and yaw, enabling the aircraft to perform very high angles of attack maneuvers such as the Pugachev's Cobra and the bell maneuver, along with doing flat rotations with little altitude loss.[97][98][99] The aircraft's aerodynamics and engines enable it to achieve Mach 2 and is also capable of flying supersonic flight without afterburners, or supercruise; the high cruising speed and normal operating altitude is also expected to give it a significant kinematic advantage over prior generations of aircraft.[100] The Su-57 has a climb rate ranging from 330 m/s (1,100 ft/s) to 361 m/s (1,180 ft/s).[101][102]

The aircraft will make extensive use of composites; on the first prototype, composites comprise 25% of the structural weight and almost 70% of the outer surface.[68] Second stage prototype will increase the usage of composite material, as well as stronger airframe, elongated tail, wider wingspan and the possibility to install newer engines.[90][86][103] According to Viktor Pryadka, the CEO of the Avintel Aviation Technologies Alliance, the plane could withstand of up to 15 G overloads in UAV Mode.[104]

Weapons are housed in two tandem main weapons bays between the engine nacelles and smaller bulged, triangular-section bays near the wing root.[105] Internal weapons carriage eliminates drag from external stores and enables higher performance compared to external carriage, as well as enhancing stealth. Advanced engines and aerodynamics enable the Su-57 to supercruise, sustained supersonic flight without using afterburners. Combined with a high fuel load, the fighter has a supersonic range of over 1,500 km (930 mi), more than twice that of the Su-27.[100][97][106] Extendible refueling probe is available to further increase its range.[107] In the Su-57's design, Sukhoi addressed what it considered to be the F-22's limitations, such as its inability to use thrust vectoring to induce roll and yaw moments and a lack of space for weapons bays between the engines, and complications for stall recovery if thrust vectoring fails.[108]


The Su-57 is planned to be the first operational aircraft in Russian Air Force service to use stealth technology. Similar to other stealth fighters such as the F-22, the airframe incorporates planform edge alignment to reduce its radar cross-section (RCS); the leading and trailing edges of the wings and control surfaces and the serrated edges of skin panels are carefully angled to reduce the number of directions the radar waves can be reflected.[109] Weapons are carried internally in weapons bays within the airframe and antennas are recessed from the surface of the skin to preserve the aircraft's stealthy shape. The infrared search-and-track sensor housing is turned backwards when not in use and its rear is treated with radar-absorbent material (RAM) to reduce its radar return. To mask the significant RCS contribution of the engine face, the partial serpentine inlet obscures most of the engine's fan and inlet guide-vanes (IGV). The production aircraft incorporates radar-absorbing materials on the walls of the air ducts and radar blockers similar in principle to those used on the F/A-18E/F in front of the engine fan to hide it from all angles. The fuselage of the aircraft is to also use RAM to absorb radar emissions and reduce the reflection back to the source.[110][111] The aircraft canopy is made of composite material and 70-90 nm thick metal oxide layers with enhanced radar wave absorbing to minimize the radar return of the cockpit by 30% and protect the pilot from the impact of ultraviolet and thermal radiation.[112]

The Su-57's design emphasizes frontal stealth, with RCS-reducing features most apparent in the forward hemisphere; the shaping of the aft fuselage is much less optimized for radar stealth compared to the F-22.[100] The combined effect of airframe shape and RAM of the production aircraft is estimated to have reduced the aircraft's RCS to a value thirty times smaller than that of the Su-27.[113] Sukhoi's patent of the Su-57's stealth features cites an average RCS of the aircraft of approximately 0.1–1 square meters.[110] Like other stealth fighters, the Su-57's low observability measures are chiefly effective against high-frequency (between 3 and 30 GHz) radars, usually found on other aircraft. The effects of Rayleigh scattering and resonance mean that low-frequency radars, employed by weather radars and early-warning radars are more likely to detect the Su-57 due to its size. Such radars are also large, susceptible to clutter and are less precise.[114][115]


117 engine compressor stall at MAKS-2011

Pre-production T-50 and initial production batches of the Su-57 will use interim engines, a pair of NPO Saturn izdeliye 117,[N 2] or AL-41F1.[116] Closely related to the Saturn 117S engine used by the Su-35S, the 117 engine is a highly improved and uprated variant of the AL-31 that powers the Su-27 family of aircraft. The 117 engine produces 93.1 kN (21,000 lbf) of dry thrust, 147.1 kN (33,067 lbf) of thrust in afterburner, and has a thrust to weight ratio of 10.5:1.[117] The engines have full authority digital engine control (FADEC) and are integrated into the flight control system to facilitate maneuverability and handling.[100]

The two 117 engines incorporate thrust vectoring (TVC) nozzles whose rotational axes are each canted at an angle, similar to the nozzle arrangement of the Su-35S. This configuration allows the aircraft to produce thrust vectoring moments about all three rotational axes, pitch, yaw and roll. Thrust vectoring nozzles themselves operate in only one plane; the canting allows the aircraft to produce both roll and yaw by vectoring each engine nozzle differently. The engine inlet incorporates variable intake ramps for increased supersonic efficiency and retractable mesh screens to prevent foreign object debris being ingested that would cause engine damage.[100] The 117 engine is to also incorporate infrared and RCS reduction measures.[118][119] In 2014, the Indian Air Force openly expressed concerns over the reliability and performance of the 117 engines; during the 2011 Moscow Air Show, a T-50 suffered a compressor stall that forced the aircraft to abort takeoff.[120]

Production fighters from 2020 onward will be equipped with a more powerful engine known as the izdeliye 30.[N 2] Compared to the 117, the new powerplant will have increased thrust, lower costs, better fuel efficiency, and fewer moving parts. Those features, along with subsequently improved reliability and lower maintenance costs will improve the aircraft performance and reliability.[117][121] The izdeliye 30 is designed to be 30% lower specific weight than its 117 predecessor. The new engine is estimated to produce approximately 107 kN (24,054 lbf) of dry thrust and 176 kN (39,556 lbf) in afterburner.[122] Full scale development began in 2011 and the engine's compressor began bench testing in December 2014.[122] The first test engines are planned to be completed in 2016, and flight testing is projected to begin in 2017. According to Deputy Minister Borisov, flight testing with new izdeliye 30 engines will begin at Q4-2017.[123][124][125] The new powerplant is designed to be a drop-in replacement for the 117 with minimal changes to the airframe.[126]

On 5 December 2017, the first flight of the second Su-57 prototype (fuselage number 052) fitted with the izdeliye 30 engine took place at the Gromov Flight Research Institute. The 17–minute test flight was carried out by Sergei Bogdan, Sukhoi chief test pilot.[127] The izdeliye 30 engine was installed on the port-side engine position while the izdeliye 117 engine remained on the starboard side. The izdeliye 30 features a new serrated nozzle compared to flat one on 117, and is slightly shorter than the izdeliye 117 nozzle.[87]


The T-50 prototype has two tandem main internal weapon bays each approximately 4.6 m (15.1 ft) long and 1.0 m (3.3 ft) wide and two small triangular-section weapon bays that protrude under the fuselage near the wing root.[113][128] Internal carriage of weapons preserves the aircraft's stealth and significantly reduces aerodynamic drag, thus preserving kinematic performance compared to performance with external stores. The Su-57's high cruising speed is expected to substantially increase weapon effectiveness compared to its predecessors.[113] Vympel is developing two ejection launchers for the main bays: the UVKU-50L for missiles weighing up to 300 kg (660 lb) and the UVKU-50U for ordnance weighing up to 700 kg (1,500 lb).[129][130]

For air-to-air combat, the Su-57 is expected to carry four beyond-visual-range missiles in its two main weapons bays and two short-range missiles in the wing root weapons bays.[128][131] The primary medium-range missile is the active radar-homing K-77M (izdeliye 180), an upgraded R-77 variant with AESA seeker and conventional rear fins. The short-range missile is the infrared-homing ("heat seeking") K-74M2 (izdeliye 760), an upgraded R-74 variant with reduced cross-section for internal carriage.[130][132] A clean-sheet design short-range missile designated K-MD (izdeliye 300) is being developed to eventually replace the K-74M2.[129] For longer ranged applications, four large izdeliye 810 beyond-visual-range missiles can be carried, with two in each main weapons bay.[128]

The main bays can also accommodate air-to-ground missiles such as the Kh-38M, as well as multiple 250 kg (550 lb) KAB-250 or 500 kg (1,100 lb) KAB-500 precision guided bombs.[128] The aircraft is also expected to carry further developed and modified variants of Kh-35UE (AS-20 "Kayak") anti-ship missile and Kh-58UShK (AS-11 "Kilter") anti-radiation missile.[133] For missions that do not require stealth, the Su-57 can carry stores on its six external hardpoints. Su-57 chief designer Alexander Davydenko has said that there is a possibility of the installation of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on the Su-57 and its FGFA derivative; only one or two such missiles may be carried due to heavy weight of the BrahMos.[134] New hypersonic missile with characteristics similar to the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ALBM is also being developed for the Su-57. The missile is to have intra-body accommodation and smaller dimensions to allow it to be carried inside the Su-57's main central weapon bays.[135]

The aircraft has an internally mounted 9A1-4071K (GSh-30-1) 30 mm cannon near the right LEVCON root.[18][136] The cannon is the lightest in 30mm class with 50 kg weight, and could fire up to 1,800 rounds per minute. The cannon can fire blast-fragmentation, incendiary and armor-piercing tracer rounds and is effective against even lightly armored ground, sea and aerial target up to 800 m for aerial target and 1,800 m for ground target. The cannon is equipped with autonomous water cooling system, where water inside barrel jacket vaporized during operation.[137][138][139]


The Su-57 has a glass cockpit with two 38 cm (15 in) main multi-functional LCD displays similar to the arrangement of the Su-35S. Positioned around the cockpit are three smaller control panel displays. The cockpit has a wide-angle (30° by 22°) head-up display (HUD). Primary controls are the joystick and a pair of throttles.[140][141] The aircraft uses a two-piece canopy, with the aft section sliding forward and locking into place. The canopy is treated with special coatings to increase the aircraft's stealth.[142]

The Su-57 employs the NPP Zvezda K-36D-5 ejection seat and the SOZhE-50 life support system, which comprises the anti-g and oxygen generating system. The 30 kg (66 lb) oxygen generating system will provide the pilot with unlimited oxygen supply.[143][144] The life support system will enable pilots to perform 9-g maneuvers for up to 30 seconds at a time, and the new VKK-17 partial pressure suit will allow safe ejection at altitudes of up to 23,000 m (75,000 ft).[145] In November 2018, the system is said to be at the final stage of test -the stage of state flight tests- and the test pilots are already flying in this equipment.[146] The pilot gear also consisted of a digital helmet which connected to on-board photo and video cameras to improve pilot's situational awareness. It also features pupil's movement detection system to allow automatic targeting unlike previous Soviet fighters.[147] There also a survival kit consisting a pan, antenna, signal mirror, 16 cubes of sugar, first aid kit, two match boxes, a signal pistol with charges, 1.5-liter bottle of water, machete knife, radio beacon, and portable radio. The pilot could use the survival kit's container as a boat or water-proof sleeping bag if necessary.[147]


The main avionics systems are the Sh121 multifunctional integrated radio electronic system (MIRES) and the 101KS Atoll electro-optical system.[148]

The Sh121 consists of the N036 Byelka radar system and L402 Himalayas electronic countermeasures system. Developed by Tikhomirov NIIP Institute, the N036 consists of the main nose-mounted N036-1-01 X band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, or active phased array radar (Russian: Активная фазированная антенная решётка, Aktivnaya Fazirovannaya Antennaya Reshotka, Russian: АФАР, AFAR) in Russian nomenclature, with 1,552 T/R modules and two side-looking N036B-1-01 X-band AESA radars with 358 T/R modules embedded in the cheeks of the forward fuselage for increased angular coverage.[109] Moreover, the side-looking radar could enable Su-57 to employ extreme beaming tactic (fighter turns 90 degrees away/perpendicular to an enemy's pulse doppler radar array, so enemy's radar would not detect/misinterpret it as a nonmoving object) while still able to guide its own missile.[149] The suite also has two N036L-1-01 L band transceivers on the wing's leading edge extensions that are not only used to handle the N036Sh Pokosnik (Reaper) friend-or-foe identification system but also for electronic warfare purposes. Computer processing of the X- and L-band signals by the N036UVS computer and processor enable the system's information to be significantly enhanced.[97][150]

In 2012 ground tests of the N036 radar began on the third T-50 prototype aircraft.[151] The L402 Himalayas electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite made by the KNIRTI institute uses both its own arrays and that of the N036 radar system. One of its arrays is mounted in the dorsal sting between the two engines.[117] The system was mounted on the aircraft in 2014.[152] Developed by Federal Research and Development Center NPP Polet, the system will be based on modular concept and could be installed not only on Su-57, but also on various aircraft, helicopter, and drones.[153] "Its effective range of operation is up to 1,500 kilometres (930 mi)" a spokesman said. "The system's reliability is guaranteed by the multiple redundancy of the main functions and cutting edge technical solutions, as well as a wide range of radio channels."[154]

The UOMZ 101KS Atoll electro-optical system consisted of:

  • The 101KS-V infra-red search and track turret mounted on the starboard side in front of the cockpit. This sensor can detect, identify, and track multiple airborne targets simultaneously.[109]
  • The 101KS-O Directional Infrared Counter Measures system has sensors housed in turrets mounted on the dorsal spine and forward fuselage under the cockpit and uses modulated laser-based countermeasures to confuse or destroy heat-seeking missiles' tracking mechanism.[155] Judging from its position, the system allegedly intented not only as a self-protection against MANPADS but also air-to-air missile. In this regard, Su-57 could be something of a pioneer, while similar DIRCM capabilities haven't been ported over to the latest generations of high-flying western fighter aircraft.[149][156]
  • The 101KS-U ultraviolet missile approach warning sensors (MAWS) against infra-red homing missiles. MAWS using ultraviolet technology can operate under all weather conditions and will not be affected by solar clutter. It provides good directional information of the incoming missile for good decoy dispensing decision making, maneuvering and to cue the DIRCM system into action.[155]
  • The 101KS-P, a high-resolution thermal imager, provides low-altitude piloting and landing in night conditions.[157] It is installed in front of the compartments of short-range missiles and is not used for targeting purposes but for efficient low altitude flight and night landing operations.[155]
  • 101KS-N navigation and targeting pod.[158][155] It will have similar function to the AN/AAQ28 Litening and AN/AAQ33 Sniper advanced targeting pods of the US military.[159]

In 2016, Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies (KRET) announced it is developing multifunctional video processing system called "Okhotnik" (Hunter), to increase the Su-57's target detection range as well as to improve automatic detection and tracking of targets.[160][161]

In April 2017, UAC announced that a new next-generation integrated avionics suite has started flight-testing.[162] According to Dmitry Gribov, a chief designer of the new complex, the new avionics suite—called the ИМА БК, the Russian acronym for Интегрированная модульная авионика боевого комплекса (integrated modular avionics combat systems)—will replace a system designed in 2004 called Багет (Baguette) used on previous Su-35.[162][163] The still-in-development system has more than 4 million lines of code. The IMA BK makes use of indigenous Russian multi-core microprocessors and a new indigenous real-time operating system.[164] The new avionic suite also makes use of fiber-optic channels with a throughput of more than 8 Gbit/s, which is up from 100 Mbit/sec for traditional copper wires.[163][165] The new IMA BK integrated avionics suite is designed to automatically detect, identify, and track the most dangerous targets and offer the pilot the best solution to engage an enemy. The new system will take control of almost all of the key sensors of the aircraft—radar, navigation and communication that in previous aircraft were controlled by separate computers—simultaneously performs the role of an electronic pilot, electronic navigator and electronic flight engineer.[166]

A monitoring system will allow real-time assessment of the aircraft's condition and predict the remaining 'life' of the composite parts of the aircraft by combining optical fibers with sensitivity to mechanical influences with aircraft's network system. The information about aircraft's condition will be transmitted via laser beam through the optical fiber woven into the structure.[167] It will decrease aircraft's maintenance costs and allow parts to be repaired preemptively, thus improving flight safety.[168]

Operational history[edit]

Testing and trials[edit]

The 929th State Flight Test Centre (GLITS) received its first T-50 prototype for further testing and state trials in March 2014, and Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief Lieutenant General Viktor Bondarev said that deliveries of initial production T-50 fighter were expected to begin in 2016.[40][169][170] External weapon trials started in May 2014.[171]

On 8 February 2018, Deputy Minister Borisov said that the first stage of state trials has been concluded and that the combat trials are on schedule. During the interview, he also reported that the contract for an initial batch of 12 aircraft is to be signed in 2018.[172]

Syrian combat evaluation[edit]

On 21 February 2018, two Su-57s were spotted landing at the Russian Khmeimim air base in Syria. The aircraft were deployed along with four Sukhoi Su-35 fighters, four Sukhoi Su-25s, and one Beriev A-50 AEW&C aircraft.[173][174] Three days later two more Su-57s were reported to have arrived in Syria.[175] The deployment was criticised by some experts as overly risky, especially after reports of drones attack at Khmeimim air base.[176][177] Military correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda Viktor Baranets was cited as saying that according to his information the Su-57s have "excellently" carried out their mission in Eastern Ghouta.[178] On 1 March 2018, the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu confirmed that the two Su-57s indeed spent two days in Syria and successfully completed a trials program, including combat trials during which parameters of weapons work were monitored.[179][180]

On 25 May 2018, the Russian Defence Ministry revealed that during the February 2018 deployment to Syria, a Su-57 fired a cruise missile in combat, likely a Kh-59MK2.[181]

On 18 November 2018, the Russian Defence Ministry posted a video of the fighters’ flights on Twitter, and announced that Su-57 performed 10 flights during its trip to Syria.[182][183] However, the video did not specify when the test flights took place.[184]



The completed joint Indian/Russian versions of the single-seat or two-seat FGFA will differ from the current T-50 flying prototypes in 43 ways with improvements to stealth, supercruise, sensors, networking, and combat avionics.[185]

In March 2010, Sukhoi director Mikhail Pogosyan projected a market for 1,000 fighter aircraft over the next four decades, which will be produced in a joint venture with India, 200 each for Russia and India and 600 for other countries.[186] He has also said that the Indian contribution would be in the form of joint work under the current agreement rather than as a joint venture.[187] In June 2010, the Indian Air Force planned to receive 50 of the single-seat "Russian version" before receiving the two-seat FGFA.[188] Then in an October 2012 interview the Chief of Air Staff of India, NAK Browne, said that the IAF will purchase 144 of the single-seat FGFA. To reduce development costs and timelines, the IAF plans to begin induction of the FGFA in 2020.[35]

In April 2018, it was reported that India is withdrawing from the program. India has become increasingly disappointed with the project's progress after years of negotiations, delays, and struggles with Russia. India is also not satisfied with the capabilities of Su-57, the basis of the FGFA with one of the main issues being the Su-57's insufficient stealth design.[189][190][191]

Other versions[edit]

Alexei Fedorov has said that any decision on applying fifth-generation technologies to produce a smaller fighter (comparable to the F-35) must wait until after the heavy fighter, based on the T-50, is completed.[192]

A proposal naval version of the Su-57 for the Project 23000E or Shtorm supercarrier. Models of the aircraft carrier project are showing Su-57 on board, with folding wings and stabilators. The Su-57 should be able to use the takeoff ramp as well as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System.[193][194]

Although previously stated that the Su-57 is capable to fly on its own and act autonomously,[104] it will not likely be developed into an unmanned version. Instead, the aircraft is used as a testbed for control and navigation systems, including weapon systems being developed for Russia's future sixth-generation combat system, that in its basic version will be an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).[195][196][197] In January 2019, it became known the third flyable Su-57 prototype (bort. no 053) is being actively used as a flying laboratory for testing of onboard radio-electronic systems of the new sixth-generation Sukhoi Okhotnik UCAV.[198]


Sukhoi states that the main export advantage of the PAK FA is its lower cost than current US fifth generation jet fighters.[199] Russia was reported to be offering the PAK FA for South Korea's next generation jet fighter.[200] South Korea's defence procurement agency confirmed that the Sukhoi PAK FA was a candidate for the Republic of Korea Air Force's next-generation fighter (F-X Phase 3) aircraft;[201] however, Sukhoi did not submit a bid by the January 2012 deadline.[202]

The PAK FA was slated to be introduced for export in 2022[203] with the introduction of the Sukhoi/HAL FGFA, the primary export version,[204] for the Indian Air Force.[205] Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, has projected that Vietnam will be the second export customer for the fighter.[206] In 2012, Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that Russia and India would jointly build the export version of the T-50 starting in 2020.[207] Mikhail Pogosyan, the head of United Aircraft Corporation, said in 2013 that the Russian PAK FA and the Sukhoi/HAL FGFA will use "identical onboard systems and avionics".[208]

In 2013, Russia offered Brazil participation and joint production in a next-generation fighter based on the T-50.[209][210]

In May, 2018, Turkish media Yeni Safak stated that Turkey might evaluate Su-57 purchase if USA insisted to cancel the delivery of F-35 as a sanction due to Turkey's S-400 purchase.[211][212] However, internal source stated that the possibility of Su-57 purchase was based on expert's opinion and thus was not reflecting the official position of Ankara.[213] On 30 June 2018, Turkey received its first F-35 in a ceremony at Lockheed Martin's facilities in Texas.[214]

On 28 March 2019, the export version of the Su-57, known as Su-57E, the "E" for Eksportny ("Export"), was promoted to international customers during the LIMA 2019 exhibition. It is expected the Russian President Vladimir Putin will sign the final approval for export of the aircraft soon afterwards and that the Su-57E could be officially unveiled at the 2019 Dubai Airshow.[215]




On 10 June 2014, the fifth flying prototype, aircraft T-50-5, was severely damaged by an engine fire after landing. The pilot managed to escape unharmed. Sukhoi stated that the aircraft will be repaired, and that the fire "will not affect the timing of the T-50 test program".[217][218]

Specifications (T-50)[edit]

Т-50 3 views.svg

Data from Aviation News,[219] Aviation Week,[220] Air International,[221] Combat Aircraft[222]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 19.8 m (65 ft)
  • Wingspan: 13.95 m (45 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
  • Wing area: 78.8 m² (848.1 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 18,000 kg (39,680 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 25,000 kg (55,115 lb) typical mission weight, 29,270 kg (64,530 lb) at full load
  • Max. takeoff weight: 35,000 kg (77,160 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 10,300 kg (22,700 lb)[223]
  • Powerplant: 2 × Saturn AL-41F1 for initial production, izdeliye 30 for later production[117] turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 93.1 kN / 107 kN (21,000 lbf / 24,054 lbf) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 147 kN / 176 kN (33,067 lbf / 39,566 lbf) each




See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists



  1. ^ a b c d Second-stage T-50 prototypes feature compatibility with the Izdeliye 30 second-stage engine, a stronger fuselage, increased wingspan, and greater use of composite materials in construction.[6]
  2. ^ a b The Russian term изделие, translit. izdeliye literally means "manufactured article" or "product"
  3. ^ The new fighter's control systems, avionics and cockpit will be designed on the basis of the Su-35BM's systems.[235]


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  • Butowski, Piotr. "Raptorski's Maiden Flight". Air International, Vol. 78, No 3, March 2010, pp. 30–37. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing.
  • Butowski, Piotr. "T-50 Turning and Burning over Moscow". Air International, Vol. 85, No 4, October 2013, pp. 79–82. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing.
  • Butowski, Piotr. "Is Russia's fifth-generation PAK FA fighter programme still on track?". Air International, June 2015, pp. 76–81. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing.
  • Butowski, Piotr. "Russian Raptor?". Combat Aircraft, January 2016, pp. 52–57. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing.
  • Lake, Jon. "Sukhoi T-50 - Russia's Raptor?" Combat Aircraft, Vol. 11, No.4, April 2010.
  • Sweetman, Bill. "Sukhoi T-50 Shows Flight-Control Innovations". Aviation Week & Space Technology, 19 August 2013. New York City, New York, US: Penton Media, Inc.

External links[edit]

  • Official Sukhoi Su-57 webpages at KnAAPO and UAC