The first fifth-generation fighter of Russia, the Sukhoi Su-57, has entered serial production. As per the contract that was signed last June; United Aircraft Corporation will be producing 76 Su-57s, and the first jet will be entering service before this year ends.
The Su-57 made its first appearance back in 2010 and took its name from the well-known Sukhoi Design Bureau. The design of the Su-57 took the West by surprise. It is described as a ‘fifth-generation fighter’ meaning that it is the fifth-generation of fighter jets after WWII. This generation of fighter jets generally features a stealth-design, capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1 or more, a strong radar, and the ability to send and receive data with friendly forces.
Talking about Su-57 in particular; it is a multi-role fighter and is capable of taking part in air-to-air and air-to-ground operations. It will also be serving as a launch platform for the Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile. Experts believe that Kinzhal is a 9K720 Iskander land-based short-range ballistic missile that was modified to be carried by aircraft. Kinzhal can fly at a top speed of Mach 10 and has a range of 1,242 miles.
However, the Su-57 has been a victim of delays. The aircraft that was previously known as T-50 took its first flight on January 29, 2010. The head of the Russian Air Force stated that the production would commence in 2015 back in 2012. India was an early partner of the program and dropped out after continued delays. TASS is a Russian government-owned state media source, and it says that Moscow signed a contract for 76 Su-57s last June. Russia had only committed to purchasing sixteen units of the fighter jet but United Aircraft Corporation – the parent company behind Sukhoi bureau – was able to reduce the cost of the jet by 20% thus prompting the bigger purchase.
The question that is being asked is, how did the cost of Su-57 magically dropped by 20%? The primary concern being whether the UAC has cut corners on the design of the fighter jet to reduce its cost. Nonetheless, the delays have pushed Russia quite back in terms of numbers. The US is currently creating a hundred F-35s every year, and the US Military has already ordered 2,400 jets. In fact, by 2028, when the existing orders for Su-57 will be completed; the US and its allies will have 187 F-22 Raptors and around 1,400 F-35s.