After the Su-30SM2 fighter, Russia is about to release an upgraded version of the powerful Su-35SM fighter to add combat power to the air.
Designed primarily for air superiority, the Su-35 Falnker-E heavy fighter is central to Moscow’s plan to upgrade its fleet of tactical fighters, according to Military Watch (MW) magazine.
Since 2014, more than 100 such fighters have entered service with the Russian aerospace forces and about 50 more have been built for export.
According to American analysts, the order of the Russian Air Force for the Su-35 is the next development after the failure of the ambitious program for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft MiG-1.42 in the early years. 1990s.
At that time, Russia was in trouble due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as well as delays related to the development of a future fighter aircraft, the Su-57. Moscow does not accept the risk of being left with a fleet of outdated military aircraft.
The Su-35 entered mass production with a delay of 15 years, but the aircraft is good and has high combat capabilities. It has become much more fearsome than its predecessor, the Su-27, which has been technologically superior for decades.
The airframe uses high-strength composite materials, making the fighter lighter and its radar reflections significantly reduced.
The Su-35 is equipped with a powerful engine and a new generation X-band Irbis-E radar, which increases the range of aerial target detection to 400 km, and can track 30 and attack 8 objects at the same time. At times, the equipment on the Su-35 is much more advanced than that of the Su-30SM, although the parameters are close to the same.
The avionics system on the Su-35 has been completely replaced, and most notably an improved electronic warfare complex has appeared, which is the L175M Khibiny-M.
However, the Russian aerospace force has become very dependent on the Su-35, while the air forces of NATO countries are much more numerous and are regularly supplemented with the fifth-generation fighter F- 35.
Moreover, the strong development of the sixth generation fighter is taking place in the West, which will appear around 2030. So to keep up, Russia has actively modernized the Su-35, trying to bring it up to the new Su-35SM standard. According to experts, the updated package looks very impressive.
It is expected that the Su-35SM will be based on the new R-77M air-to-air missile, launched from the aircraft’s internal compartments. This ammunition has a range of 200 km and uses AESA radar to guide, making it extremely difficult for enemy aircraft to evade when within range.
In addition, the much larger R-37M air-to-air missile, currently the main weapon of the MiG-31 high-altitude interceptor, will be widely used by the Su-35SM.
This type of ammunition has a range of 400 km, a supersonic speed of Mach 6, and carries a 60 kg warhead. The R-37M is very effective, but the Su-35SM can only carry a maximum of 4 missiles because it is lighter than the MiG-31, which reduces its combat power somewhat.
It is likely that the AESA radar based on the Su-57 will replace the outdated Irbis on the Su-35SM. It is also impossible to exclude the possibility that the aircraft will receive the Himalayan electronic warfare system (equipped with the Su-57), which will significantly increase its survivability.
“Advanced electronic warfare capabilities are particularly important given the non-stealth design of fourth-generation aircraft, and will need to rely more heavily on such assets to survive future battles.”, the MW publication emphasized.