Military Aviation

Sukhoi Su-57 exclusive feature: the Felon is the only Fighter Jet Equipped with DIRCM

Technically the DIRCM is seen on other turbine powered aircraft. It’s just never appeared on anything outside of heavy lift transports, and helicopters prior to the 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.

A multirole fighter capable of aerial combat as well as ground and maritime strike, the Su-57 incorporates stealth, supermaneuverability, supercruise, integrated avionics, and substantial internal payload capacity. The aircraft is expected to succeed the MiG-29 and Su-27 in the Russian military service and has also been marketed for export. The first prototype aircraft flew in 2010, but the program would experience a protracted development due to various structural and technical issues that emerged during trials, including the destruction of the first production aircraft in a crash before its delivery. After repeated delays, the first Su-57 entered service with the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) in December 2020. The fighter is expected to have a service life of up to 35 years.

Interesting features of the Su-57 that no other fighter jet has are the longitudinally arranged internal weapons bays and the 101KS-O DIRCM (Directed Infrared Counter Measures).

Su-57 DIRCM consists of two laser emitting turrets, with one placed behind the cockpit on the dorsal side, and the other beneath the cockpit on the ventral side.

‘Technically this feature is seen on other turbine powered aircraft,’ Connor Dalton, aircraft and incidents researcher, said on Quora. ‘It’s just never appeared on anything outside of heavy lift transports, and helicopters prior to the Su-57.

‘DIRCM consists of two laser emitting turrets, with one placed behind the cockpit on the dorsal side, and the other beneath the cockpit on the ventral side. The function of the system is relatively straight forwards. When an IR missile is spotted, the lasers quickly aim for the missiles seeker system, blinding it and preventing it from being able to guide to the targeted aircraft.

‘The thing is, the system has never previously been seen outside of transports and helicopters, and has only ever been placed on the ventral side in the past, as a defense against MANPADS.’

Dalton concludes:

‘So, the presence of the dorsal mounting, and on a fighter no less means that not only is this the first DIRCM system ever put into a fighter, it’s one of the first DIRCM systems ever made with the goal of combating air to air missiles.’

Photo credit: Chinese Internet and Sukhoi

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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