Warplanes: F-22ski Flies Again


September 10, 2007: At the recent Russian MAKS 2007 air show in Moscow, the Russian Air Force showed off the first of two flyable prototypes of the Su-35 that are under construction. The first flight of this version of the Su-35 will take place before the end of the year. Nearly a year ago, Russia announced that its long promised Su-35 fighter, was back in development again. The Russians would only say that the Su-35 was undergoing flight testing.

The Su35 is an enhanced Su-27, and has been in development for over a decade. At one point, it was called the Su-37, but the name was changed back to Su-35. A dozen or more Su-35 prototypes have been built, and apparently no two are identical. The Russians want to sell Su-35s to China, India and other foreign customers. Apparently Russia now has the half billion or so dollars it will take to get the Su-35 development moving again.

The Su-35 is a 34 ton fighter that is more maneuverable than the original, 33 ton, Su-27, and has much better electronics. It can cruise at above the speed of sound. It also costs at least fifty percent more than the Su-27. That would be some $60 million, about what a top-of-the-line F-16 costs. The Su-27 was originally developed to match the F-15, which is larger than the single engine F-16. The larger size of the Su-27/35, allows designers to do a lot more with it in terms of modifications and enhancements.

The aircraft shown at MAKS had a new type radar, lots of little structural changes, and a mock up of a Cold War era long-range air-to-air missile hanging from one wing. This missile is believed to be designed to take down U.S. AWACS aircraft.

The Su-35 is not meant to be a rival for the F-22, because the Russian aircraft is not stealthy. But if the maneuverability and advanced electronics proposed Su-35 live up to the promises, the aircraft would be more than a match for every fighter out there except the F-22. If such an Su-35 was sold for well under $100 million each, there would be a lot of buyers.


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