By Bijan Razzaghi
The Russian Air Forces Su-35 has become the premier threat aircraft of the current time, offering new capabilities to Russia’s Air Force along with export costumers. The Su-35 has the ability to engage air and ground targets providing a true multi role capability similar to that of the Su-30. There are a number of factors that make the Su-35 particularly threatening compared to past aircraft such as the Mig-29 or older Su-27 prominent in the 1980s and 90s. Among them include maneuverability avionics, and armament.
In regards to maneuverability the Su-35 has everything a modern fighter jet needs. The aircraft’s 2 Saturn AL-41Fs afterburning turbofans provide 3d thrust vectoring, and produce 39,900 lbs of thrust with full afterburner. This gives the aircraft a thrust to weight ratio of 1.13 at 50% fuel. In addition to the energy the aircraft can produce the design allows the aircraft to pull up to 9gs. With these capabilities the Su-35 can effectively out maneuver and out run most modern fighter aircraft.
When it comes to avionics the Su-35 also offers some unique capabilities that previous Russian aircraft did not possess. The Irbis-E Passive Electronically Scanned Array Radar allows the aircraft to track and identify up to 30 air targets at ranges up to 220 miles. The radar also can be switched to an air to ground mode to identify and engage ground targets. The OLS-35 IRST (Infra Red Search and Track System) can be used to track air targets heat signatures. This can be used to pick up the infrared heat from stealthy aircrafts exhaust, which can pose a legitimate threat to western air power. The L175M ECM jammer can disrupt radars and give opposing radars a late detection of the Su-35. The jammer also can disrupt the ability for some radars to maintain a radar lock on the Su-35. The Su-35 can use this to its advantage as it can evade beyond visual range missiles such as the AIM-120 and move in close enough to draw the opposing aircraft into a dogfight where the Su-35 has the clear advantage to most aircraft with exception to the F-22 Raptor.
The Su-35 possesses a vast array of weapon options. While older Russian aircraft such as the Mig-29 and Su-27 were limited to air-to-air missiles and unguided bombs. The Su-35 can deploy laser guided KH-25ML and KH-29L missiles along with KH-31 and KH-59 anti ship missiles. The Su-35 can also deploy all variants of the Kab-500 series bombs. When it comes to air to air Su-35s use the 30mm GSH-301 cannon along with R-73 Archer infra missile and R-77 Adder radar guided missile.
With these wide range of capabilities the Su-35 poses a significant threat to both ground forces and air assets. The multi role capability combined with the avionics suite makes the aircraft one of the most cutting edge Russian design’s introduced. The Su-35 cost around $65 million per plane and has been exported to China.