Much has been said in recent years about fifth-generation fighters, of which the American F-35 and F-22 are today the greatest exponent, and about their Russian opponent, the “powerful” SU- 57 (Felon in NATO terminology), a fighter plane sold by the Kremlin to great fanfare and that even in the recent movie “Top Gun Maverick” inspired so much fear in American pilots. Nevertheless, In practice, it has hardly been seen flying through the sky and even less in real missions, beyond some tests in Syria.
In fact, everyone expected that the Russian Air Force had demonstrated its air superiority from the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine and had let its Su-57 be seen in action, among the many other modern planes it claims to have. However, until now, little or nothing is known about him.
According to reports from the media controlled by the Kremlin, the Su-57 would be flying missions against Ukraine, but it is possible that until now it is only firing from outside the range of Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses so as not to expose itself to being shot down, so that it would not be so sneaky or so invisible.
The point is that, militarily speaking, his absence is assuming a great disappointment after Russia had touted again and again the advanced technology of its fighter which, they claimed, could outperform (until now only on paper) the F-22 and United States F-35, these have been tested in action numerous times and, in the case of the second, also in service in other countries.
What would be the main problem? Well, it exists, but there would only be a dozen operational in the entire Russian fleet, a total of 15 according to other sources, and, faced with such a panorama, they prefer not to risk them. The mass production plans were planned for later and, when they wanted to accelerate in the face of the invasion of Ukraine, the lack of parts and supplies due to the embargo, would have made it impossible to increase the speed of manufacturing as Moscow would have wanted.
And it is that, although comparatively the Russian plane could surpass the aforementioned USAF fighters, at the moment of truth the assembly line is encountering more problems than expected. In the first place, the most advanced version of the Su-57 would have been intended to incorporate the Izdeliye-30 engines (initially planned for 2025), but it seems that the rush has led to problems with the adjustment and the designers have returned to resort to the old Saturn AL-41F1.
The previous adjustments were not much better either and it is that the Su-57 has had a checkered history, just like the American F-35 has had, which has been full of cost increases, accidents. Thus, it has presented equipment failures, defective engines, delays, cost overruns, one of the prototypes suffered an engine fire in 2014 and another Su-57 crashed in 2019 in eastern Russia, which led the general director of Sukhoi resigned after the incident, delaying the entire program.
Be that as it may, the truth is that the Su-57 offers some innovations, such as the electronic scanning system located in the “cheeks” of the plane so that the pilot has a better understanding of the situation; an infrared search and track system that helps target the missiles and makes it less vulnerable to enemy jamming; its ability to “blind” the bogeys of heat-seeking enemy fired missiles with a “modulated laser beam.”
With all this situation, it is normal for Russia to “keep” them like gold on cloth and not expose them to anti-aircraft artillery to Ukrainian surface-to-air missiles, given that the weapons that come from the West are becoming more and more sophisticated. . A shooting down of a Su-57 on “enemy” soil would not only be a terrible blow to Russia’s image, but would also expose its technology to the West and its war enterprises. In fact, this week a Ukrainian missile shot down a Su-34 fighter-bomber in the fighting in the Kharkiv area, another of the crown jewels.