Here’s why Algeria Won’t Buy Su-57 and Su-34

As Su-57 proves it can control a “swarm” of Su-35 fighter aircraft during teaming experiment, Russia announces that will test upgraded Felon in 2022

By Dario Leone
Jun 30 2020
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The use of a “swarm” operating in a single information space, significantly increases the efficiency of combat missions.

During a teaming experiment designed to function as a ‘swarm’ in a coordinated attack mission, a Russian Su-57 Felon stealth fighter controlled a group of Su-35 multirole fighter jets, Defense reported.

“The experiment was carried out in real combat conditions. A group of Su-35 fighters was involved in the flock, the role of the command and control aircraft was performed by the Su-57,” said TASS that quoted anonymous sources from Russia’s ‘military-industrial complex.’

Although the place and date of the experiment were not specified, the sources pointed out that the use of a “swarm” operating in a single information space, significantly increases the efficiency of combat missions.

The report did not describe what ‘real combat conditions’ meant. Whether the jet swarm was tested in simulated battle conditions at home or in Syria where Russia has previously conducted several tactical experiments involving the Su-57.

However, information is exchanged between fighters in real time during the experiment: the information-control system of each aircraft automatically processes data from its own sensors and sensors of other aircraft providing a comprehensive battle space picture. The command and control aircraft then guides the course of battle.

Noteworthy it has recently been reported that Russia will test the upgraded Su-57 from summer of 2022 and complete testing in two years.

According to Alert in fact, the fighter will have new engines and avionics. The hydraulic actuators will be replaced by electric ones. The cockpit will get wide-angle heads up display and panoramic display panels.

As we have previously explained, according to Sukhoi, the Su-57’s radar cross section (RCS) is reduced to an average figure of 0.3-0.4m2 compared to 15m2 for the Su-27. As explained by Piotr Butowski in his book Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1, the main solution to reduce radar visibility is internal carriage of weapons. Radar blockers reduce reflections from the engine inlet guide vanes and are installed in the engine air intake ducts. The shape of the airframe has been selected to reduce the number of directions in which electro-magnetic waves are reflected, and to ensure these directions are the safest. The angles of sweep for the wing and tailplane leading and trailing edges, the edges of the air intakes and various hatch covers have been reduced to three figures, deflected from the aircraft’s axis. Similarly, in terms of cross section, the fuselage sides, lateral edges of the air intakes and the vertical empennage are all deflected at the same angle. Some openings and slots on the airframe’s surface, for example, the boundary-layer bleeds on the sides of the air intakes and openings on the upper fuselage immediately aft of the cockpit, are covered with a thick grid using a mesh smaller than one quarter of the wavelength of the ‘attacking’ radar, which reduces reflections from these uneven surfaces. Gaps between the airframe elements are filled with conducting sealants, which also reduces RCS. The cockpit glazing is metallised. Radar-absorbing and shielding materials and coatings are also used.

Another group of stealth measures concern the fighter’s equipment. The surfaces of the NO36 radar arrays are deflected from the vertical plane, thus deflecting the enemy radar’s radiation aside. The domes of the arrays are selective — they let their own signal pass through and block other frequencies. In addition, the compartments for these arrays feature radar-absorbent coatings on their edges to absorb ‘freak waves’ (which occur when a wave is amplified after multiple reflections within an enclosed space). In order to reduce their total number, the available arrays are used by multiple systems simultaneously, for example, the radar, ECM and IFF systems. Within the antenna-feeder system, use is made of antennas that do not protrude outside the airframe outlines, and the vertical empennage serves as an antenna for the communications suite. The turret of the 101KS-V sight is rotated backwards in cruise configuration, and its rear hemisphere is covered with a radar-absorbing coating.

Photo credit: Alex Beltyukov via Wikipedia

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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