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The Latest Russian Fighter Jet Blows America’s Away

Outgunned by the Su-30 family of aircraft and suffering critical design flaws, the American F-35 is staring down the barrel of obsolescence – and punching a gaping hole in western air defences.


This article is an excellent read to understand how Russia’s technological level is best in its class in many military sectors, especially with regard to fighter jets.  It originally appeared in Russia & India Report. The SU-30 continues to be the number one choice among global buyers.

Built to be the deadliest hunter killer aircraft of all time, the F-35 has quite literally become the hunted. In every scenario that the F-35 has been wargamed against Su-30 Flankers, the Russian aircraft have emerged winners. America’s newest stealth aircraft – costing $191 million per unit – is riddled with such critical design flaws that it’s likely to get blown away in a shootout with the super-maneuverable Sukhois.

Stubby wings (that reduce lift and maneuverability), a bulbous fuselage (that makes it less aerodynamic) low speed and a super hot engine (which a half decent radar can identify) are just a few of the major flaws that will expose its vulnerability during air combat.

With more than 600 Flankers (Sukhoi-27s and its later iterations such as the Su-30, Su-34 and Su-35 Super Flanker) flying with air forces around the world, the fate of the fifth generation F-35 seems decidedly uncertain. Aerospace experts across the world are veering around to the view that America’s most expensive fighter development program (pegged at $1.5 trillion) will be a sitting duck for the flankers.

“It’s a turkey,” declares aerospace engineer Pierre Sprey in an interview to Dutch television. Few people are as qualified to speak about fighter aircraft as Sprey. He is the co-designer of the F-16 Falcon jet and the A-10 Warthog tank buster, two of the most successful aircraft in the US Air Force (USAF).Winslow T. Wheeler, Director of the US’ Straus Military Reform Project, Centre for Defense information, agrees. “The F-35 is too heavy and sluggish to be successful as a fighter,” he says. “If we ever face an enemy with a serious air force we will be in deep trouble.”


So far the US has been lucky it has never really encountered a “serious” military. Over the skies of war-weary Iraq, tiny Libya and utterly defenseless Afghanistan, the American aircraft operated with impunity. But luck can run out – if they ever come up against the air forces of Russia, China or India the outcome won’t be so one-sided. In particular, the Indian Air Force has beaten the USAF’s fourth generation fighters using both third and fourth generation jets.

The biggest problem with the F-35 is that its US designers are betting on stealth and long range radar to compensate for its lack of speed and maneuverability. But stealth is not really all that it is cracked up to be; it is not the cloak of invisibility.

Plus, Russia’s already excellent radars are getting better. Says Defense Industry Daily (DID): “Meanwhile, key radar advances are already deployed in the most advanced Russian surface-to-air missile systems, and existing IRST (infra-red scan and track) systems deployed on advanced Russian and European fighters are extending enemy detection ranges against radar-stealthy aircraft. Fighter radar pick-up capability of up to (46km) by 2020 is proposed against even ultra-stealthy aircraft like the F-22, coupled with IRST ability to identify Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile firings and less infrared-stealthy aircraft at (92km) or more.”


At the same time, there is no such thing as one radar in a war. “There are lots of radars,” Sprey explains. “And you can’t be nose-on or dead-level to every radar in the theater. There are always going to be radars that are going to be shining up (from below) or looking from above – they can all see you.”

Short on firepower

Another issue is with the American aircraft’s overall shape. “Most great airplanes are beautiful because you are trying to reduce drag,” Sprey says. “But here because of stealth they had to make it very bulbous, very big as they had to carry the weapons inside because as soon as you carry the weapons outside they reflect radar. So this is a huge penalty to the performance of the aircraft which is now big and lumbering like a bomber.”

Lower internal payload means the designers at Lockheed-Martin have signed the F-35’s death warrant. The aircraft carries just two large bombs and four small ones, and a maximum of four beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missiles (AAMs).

The USAF claims the F-35’s advanced radar will see the enemy aircraft first and be able to take it out with one of its four long-range AAMs. But BVR kills are still the stuff of dreams for fighter pilots and are quite rare.


In fact, the reliance on the radar acquisition and AAMS can prove suicidal – as indeed it was once upon a time. During the Vietnam War the USAF was so smitten with the concept of BVR combat that the first F-4 fighters were armed only with missiles. But after the Vietnamese Air Force pilots shot them down by the bucket load, the Americans reintroduced cannons in the F-4.

In fact, Russia, which has the most advanced and varied range of BVR missiles in the world, arms its Flankers with at least eight missiles for the simple reason that it takes several shots at a fast moving target to score a kill.

That the Americans ignored this basic lesson of air combat is mind boggling.

In theory, American pilots would play ‘video games’ and take out enemy aircraft at 1000 km. In practice, air combat is like a knife fight. According to DID, the F-35 is very likely to wind up facing many more “up close and personal” opponents than its proponents suggest, while dealing with effective BVR infrared-guided missiles as an added complication. Unlike the F-22, the F-35 is described as “double inferior” to modern Su-30 family fighters within visual range combat.”

The much larger and varied inventory of missiles combined with super-maneuverability, therefore, bestows the Flankers with an edge that’s unparalleled in modern air combat.

Fleet availability

According to the new philosophy of air combat that is being defined by USAF-Lockheed-Martin careerists, the one-size-fits-all F-35 will replace all other fighters as well as ground support aircraft.

But here’s the rub. Because the F-35 is such an expensive aircraft, air forces will buy fewer units. For instance, Japan currently has 100 F-15s but it will replace them with just 70 F-35s. Again, because the F-35 will also be expensive to fly and maintain, air forces will limit pilot flying hours. (Already, spending cuts have forced the USAF to eliminate more than 44,000 flying hours and ground 17 combat air squadrons).

Besides, ‘stealth’ comes with a price. On the F-35 most of the maintenance is on the stealth coating. “It is a ludicrous impediment to combat,” Sprey says. “You are sitting on the ground for 50 hours fiddling on the aircraft trying to make it stealthy when it’s not stealthy anyhow.”

Plus, 100 per cent fleet availability is a logistical impossibility. The USAF averages around 75 per cent – which is pretty decent – but when it comes to stealth aircraft the figures nosedive. The USAF’s super-secret B2A stealth bomberhas an availability rate of just 46.7 per cent. And America’s most expensive fighter, the F-22, despite its $350 million price tag has a fleet availability rate of only 69 per cent.

So if you are, say, the Australian air force, just 48 of your planned fleet of 70 F-35s will be battle ready at any given time. Your chances against the Chinese who have 400 Flankers are smaller than small. You can bet the Aussies won’t be joining the knife fight unless escorted by big brother USA.

Wheeler, who has dealt with US national security issues for over three decades, lays out the implications for western air forces planning to induct the F-35: “The pilots will get worse as they’ll get much less training, which is most important than any technical issue. There’ll be far fewer pilots as the whole force will have to shrink, and you will basically have a showpiece aircraft that can’t do anything. It’s useless, it’s truly monumentally useless, it will ruin any air force that uses it.”

The dogfight hasn’t yet started and the Flankers are up 1-0.

Federico Pieraccini

Russia Insider

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10 Replies to “The Latest Russian Fighter Jet Blows America’s Away

  1. Video de propagande, c’est sur!
    Ceci dit ça nous donne une idée sur ce que sont réelement les SU-30/35

    Rendons à César ce qui est à Cesar, si ce n’était ces ridicules concepts de furtivité et BVR qui a dans le F-22, ça serait un des engins les mieux abouttis de l’histoire de l’aéronautique US. Les informations seront classées de part et d’autres. L’idée qui consiste à croire que le F-22 aurait un quelconque avantage du fait de l’electronique n’est que le daupe. Russes comme américains disposent sur leur avions de chasse des laser aptes à brouiller, et neutraliser n’importe quel missile air-air, où sol air. L’avantage dans ce domaine est aux avions Sukhoi dans la mesure où ils ne vont pas s’encombrer de protections supposées furtives, ils peuvent ainsi emporter tout l’équipement externe adéquat. Ce qui de facto pénalisera les avions US au regard des choix qui ont été faits.

    1. Il y a surtout que le taux d’exploitation et le coût d’exploitation plaident clairement en faveur du Rafale.
      Cela n’empêche pas des pays comme la Belgique qui vient de lancer un appel d’offre avec un cahier des charges fait sur mesure de provisionner un budget correspondant à l’achat de F-35.
      Dégoûté, Boeing et son assez bon F-18 vient d’annoncer sa sortie de l’appel d’offre.

      1. J’ai lu un article où l’USAF aurait fait au-dessus du Pacifique une simulation de 5 combats entre 1 F16 avec plein et armement et 1 F35 à vide. 5/0 pour le F16, le pilote du F35 étant visiblement écoeuré.

      2. Je pense comme l’avait dit le colonel Regis Chamagne que les américains ont raté la marche vers ce qu’ils appellent -appellation trés marketing dailleurs- les avions de la V° generation.

        Une question fût posée au chef d’état major de l’US Air Force à savoir s’il croyait tout ce qu’il disait sur le F-22. Sa réponse laconique en dit long sur le sujet :

        Je dis sur le F-22, ce qu’on me dit de dire….
        Je parle bien du F-22, et non du cajot volant, alias le F-35. Bref, en l’état les avions US ne valent pas un clous. Quand au SU-50, il a certes beneficié de l’experience des F-22, et F-35, mais lui aussi, se semble pas beaucoup mieux.
        Le J-20, et J-31 sont beaucooup moins chers, et loin derrière les F-22, et F-35 en matière de -prétendue-furtivité, mais au moins c’est des vrais avions de combat, surtout le J-31. Qui ne devrait pas tarder à faire son entrée au Moyen Orient. C’est ce qui angoisse les US.

        1. De toute façon je pense que l’arrivée à grande échelle des missiles hypersoniques rend obsolète le concept même d’avion furtif. Dans la logique des choses qui commence à se dessiner on aura une bordée de missiles hypersoniques destinée à raser les infrastructures de surveillance et d’alerte et accessoirement les moyens de combat (les principales bases fixes et flottantes). Cela fait, la deuxième vague constituée d’appareil de 4ème génération pourra faire son boulot sans rencontrer trop de résistance.
          On reviendra du tout hyper connecté, et donc des drones, et missiles non autonomes parce qu’ils restent trop facilement piratables. On a beaucoup parlé du taux d’échec du récent raid américain en Syrie. Pas du tout du faut que ces missiles étaient assistés par des drones à haute altitude servant en partie à les guider.

          Enfin, comme le disait Trump dans cette interview surréaliste “tous les missiles américains sont arrivés à bon port parce que le matériel américain est cinq fois meilleur que n’importe quel autre”. C’est ce qu’il prétend avoir dit au pdt chinois Xi Jinping.
          Question: il y avait quoi dans ce gâteau au chocolat pour qu’il plane aussi sec ?

        2. Le Rafale a eu un peu les mêmes problèmes (dépasssement considérable de budget,difficultés de mise au point) en son temps car il semblerait que les nécessités techniques soient très différentes en fonction des usages (chasse et supériorité aérienne,, marine, bombardement, appui feu) et qu’un couteau suisse en matière d’avion de combat soit aussi simple à faire qu’un mouton à 5 pattes. Si c’est si compliqué pourquoi ne pas faire le top dans chaque spécialité. C’est un peu comme lezs logiciels bureautique intégrés (genre works) sont pratiques mais systématiquement moins doués que le logiciel spécialisé dans tel domaine sauf éventuellement la zone la plus simple (ex traitement de texte). Au boulot, j’ai toujours été en faveur des logiciels spécialisés.

  2. Juste une observation, il est completement ridicule de comparer deux avions sur le seul critète de ses missiles air-air, à fortiori quand ça porte encore et toujours sur le fantasme du BVR.

    Alors que les duels aériens finissent meme encore aujourd’hui dans le WVR. Ainsi le fantasme de la furtivitité n’a plus lieu d’être. Dans le WVR c’est fifty fifty pour les deux camps. Un avantage significatif aux russes, puisqu’ils ont plus d’entrainement.

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