Russia has in the new Su-57 5th generation stealth fighter its newest military star. Developed by Sukhoi, the fighter jet is entering production to fulfill an order for 76 units to Air Force. But reports by government officials have indicated that the country should invest in modernizing older, cheaper fighters as a way to complement the offer of “Felon”, NATO’s code name for the Su-57.
According to Military Watch magazine, UAC (United Aircraft Corporation), which controls Sukhoi, is expected to merge the Su-30 and Su-35 fighters into a new repowered fighter called the “Super Flanker”.
In addition to incorporating technological advances, the fighter would also mean production savings. Currently, the two jets have considerable differences that would be eliminated in the future fighter such as the turbofan: while the Su-30 uses the old AL-31F, the Su-35 is equipped with the most advanced AL-41F engine.
Among other important differences are the most efficient avionics in the Su-35 and its structure built using composite material. The Su-30SM, in turn, is a cheaper and more versatile fighter, only manufactured in the two-seat variant. The merger of the two planes would also make room for new weapon systems such as the anti-ship cruise missile Kh-32, which cannot be launched by the Su-35.
Closer to the Su-57
Russia is already moving towards making the Su-30 more like the Su-35. An AL-41F version of the multi-purpose fighter is due to be produced soon for deployment in the western part of the country, revealed the TASS agency last year.
A next step for Sukhoi could be the introduction of an active radar derived from the Su-57, as well as a structure with an even wider use of composite materials. Other possibilities may include laser weapons and artificial intelligence systems.
The hypothetical ‘Su-40’ or ‘Su-35M’ may have a similar role to the F-15EX, the veteran Boeing fighter that was once again acquired by the US Air Force. With a respectable technical package and a more affordable price, the “Super Flanker” can not only be an interesting alternative for the Russian Air Force but also an export fighter with great potential, despite Sukhoi having started offering the Su-57 to other countries.