Military Aviation

Former US Navy Operations Specialist lists all the advantages the F-35 has over Su-57 that make shooting fish in a barrel harder work than Lightning IIs taking down Felons.

The Sukhoi Su-57

The Sukhoi Su-57 (NATO reporting name: Felon) is a twin-engine stealth multirole fighter aircraft developed by Sukhoi. It is the product of the PAK FA (”prospective aeronautical complex of front-line air forces”) programme, which was initiated in 1999 as a more modern and affordable alternative to the Mikoyan Project 1.44/1.42.

Sukhoi’s internal designation for the aircraft is T-50. The Su-57 is the first aircraft in Russian military service designed with stealth technology and is intended to be the basis for a family of stealth combat aircraft.

However, as we have already explained, even though the Su-57 is marketed as fifth generation fighter, the Felon is not as stealth as the US-made F-35 Lightning II [CLICK HERE to read why].

F-35 advantages over Su-57

But is stealth the only advantage the F-35 has over Su-57?

Eric Wicklund, former US Navy Operations Specialist, says on Quora;

‘Oh hell no. The F-35 has a number of other advantages over the Su-57.

• DAS (Distributed Aperture System) provides the F-35 with unparalleled situational awareness. The sensors are pointing in 360 degrees around the plane, allowing the pilot know everything going on around him or her. While the Su-57 has an IRST (InfraRed Search and Track) it’s FOV (Field Of View) is relatively tiny. The greater the range an IRST searches in, the smaller the FOV becomes. DAS is looking everywhere all the time, and it updates tens of times per second. This makes it a great missile warning system. It also allows the pilot to “see through” his own aircraft, get a lock, and fire upon an enemy he cannot see with his own eyes.

• EOTS (Electro-Optical Tracking System). This is primarily in use against ground targets, but that still means the F-35 is overall more useful than the Russian plane. F-35s can “self-escort” meaning they are perfectly capable of defending themselves as fighters, even while configured for a bombing mission.

LPIR (Low Probability of Intercept Radar). Most radar works by sending a bunch of signals on a single frequency and analyzing the returns. An RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) work by receiving all those signals and warning the pilot that he’s being “painted.” The F-35’s LPIR AN/APG-81 works differently. It is “frequency hopping” thousands of times per second, never sending many signals on the same frequency. Since there’s so few signals on one frequency, the enemy RWR doesn’t detect it. The enemy pilot doesn’t realize that he’s been “painted” and already fired upon. The Su-57 pilot cannot “see” the F-35, nor even realize it is shooting at him.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35A Lightning II 56th OG, 61st FS, LF/12-5050 / 2014


• The last is Communications. It is probably the F-35’s most dangerous weapon and also the least talked about. The F-35 uses Link 16, Freedom 550 radio, and MADL (Multifunction Advanced DataLink). No F-35 fights alone…ever. The F-35 serves as a communications node for huge masses of information. It comes from other F-35s, 4th gen aircraft, AWACS, Ships, and even ground units. An F-35 can fly ahead of an F-15EX.

Enemies know about the F-15s, but not the F-35. The F-15s don’t even bother with a radar lock, but fire their missiles “blind.” It doesn’t matter, because with Link 16, the F-35 can takeover guidance of the missiles with its LPIR radar, and direct them to an unwary enemy. Another scenario: An Su-57 might be aware of a close by F-35, but he doesn’t know about the other F-35 operating without its radar. The F-35 engaged with the Su-57 can target the enemy, pass the targeting data to the other F-35 via MADL, and the unseen F-35 can launch with a full lock, never giving itself away in the process.

F-15EX “Missile Truck” can carry huge numbers of air-to-air missiles, like AMRAAMs, completely in the blind, but F-35s can take control of them and guide them to targets, allowing the F-35 to have a far larger effective missile load than is possible for a single stealth aircraft.

Wicklund concludes;

‘And this is why, shooting fish in a barrel is probably harder work, than F-35s taking down Su-57s.’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force, Boeing and Sukhoi

This model is available in multiple sizes from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.
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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