Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeF-35 Lightning II Vs. Sukhoi Su-57: Stealth Capabilities Face-Off

F-35 Lightning II Vs. Sukhoi Su-57: Stealth Capabilities Face-Off

Russia versus the United States. These two fighter jets remain some of the world’s most advanced military fighter aircraft and illustrate the advancement of aviation technology in their time. While both aircraft are leaders in their field, they have variances in capability. The United States F-35 specializes in low radar cross-section operations. It uses unique materials to absorb various radar signals, unlike the Russian-built Sukhoi Su-57, which embodies stealth and can fire at specific angles.

Sukhoi Su-57

Photo: Anna Zvereva | Flickr

A fierce competitor to the Su-57 is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, produced since 2006. The variant descends from the X-35, and the United States has primarily funded its development. It entered service with the US Marine Corps in July 2014, quickly followed by the US Air Force and US Navy in 2016 and 2019, respectively. In combat, Israel first used it when the Israeli Air Force deployed the aircraft in 2018.

Lockheed Martin F-35
Photo: Lockheed Martin

Taking flight with the Sukhoi Su-57

The United Aircraft Corporation manufactured the Su-57 as a twin-engine stealth multirole fighter aircraft. This aircraft developed by Sukhoi is the byproduct of the PAK FA program, designed in 1999 as an alternative to the MFI Mikoyan Project. Sukhoi designated the aircraft T-50, and it was planned to be the first of many stealth combat aircraft from the Russian

Capable of ground and maritime strikes, its super maneuverability, integrated avionics, and robust payload capabilities are expected to replace the MiG-29 and Su-27 variants. Its prototype took flight in 2010. However, due to technical and structural issues, the program experienced a protraction, and its first production aircraft crashed before it could be delivered. After multiple delays, the variant finally entered service with the Russian Aerospace Forces by December 2020. In addition to ten test aircraft, 22 have been produced and delivered.

Sukhoi Su-57, Không quân Nga

Photo: Anna Zvereva | Flickr

Let’s look at some key characteristics of this unique aircraft:

Crew One
Length 65ft 11″
Wingspan 46ft 3″
Height 15ft 1″
Gross Weight 55,116lbs
Maximum take-off weight 77m162lbs
Powerplant Two × Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofan
Maximum speed 1,327 miles per hour at max speed (Mach 2)
Range 2,200 miles (1,900 nautical miles)
Service ceiling 66,000ft
Hardpoints 12 (6 external, six internal)
Guns One × 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon

Su-57’s claim to fame

For those Top Gun fans, the Su-57 appeared in the film Top Gun: Maverick in 2022, where it was referred to as a “Fifth generation fighter” an was in use by an unnamed host nation.

Defending the skies above the United States with the F-35

Various United States armed forces aim to acquire over 2,400 F-35s through 2044, destined for the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. We will likely see the aircraft remain in active service up to 2070. Over 1,000 have been produced so far in several variations.

Lockheed Martin F-35A Ferry From Eielson, Alaska To Edwards AFB, Ca.

General characteristics of the F-35 include:

Crew One
Length 51ft 4″ (15.6 m)
Wingspan 35″ (10.7 m)
Height 14ft 4″ (4.4 m)
Gross Weight 49,540lbs (22,470 kg)
Maximum take-off weight 65,918lbs (29,900 kg)
Powerplant One × Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 afterburning turbofan,
Maximum speed 806 miles per hour (1.6 mach speed)
Range 1,700 miles (1,500 nautical miles)
Service ceiling 50,000ft
Hardpoints Ten (Four internal, six external)
Guns One × 25 mm GAU-22/A 4-barrel rotary cannon

Several international militaries operate the Lockheed Martin F-35, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Potential future operators also include the Czech Republic, Romania, and Portugal.

Rejected orders

Given the aircraft’s popularity, several foreign militaries have requested to purchase the F-35. However, some orders have been canceled, including those from China, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

Looking into the UAE’s situation, initially, the United Arab Emirates Air Force looked to purchase up to 50 of the 35A variant. However, in 2021, the Biden administration suspended sales of the aircraft to the UAE and then unpaused the restriction in April 2021. Later that year, the UAE withdrew its intent to purchase the aircraft because it did not agree with the additional terms of sale.

A closeup photo of a pilot in the cockpit of an F-35A Lightning II.
Photo: USAF

Su-57 vs F-35

Russia initially planned its next generation of fighter jets during the Cold War. While the Su-57 is Russia’s first stealth fighter, its production has been limited due to sanctions. Given Russia’s focus on the conflict with Ukraine, this has hindered the chance of advancement of the Sukhoi-developed aircraft.

When compared to the American-developed F-35 Lightning II, the US aircraft has been widely produced and achieved superior stealth and sensor capability. This has given Lockheed a significant step ahead of the Russian Su-57 and will ensure the F-35 remains a formidable fighter in combat.

In general, both aircraft lead the industry and have distinct characteristics that make them stand out from other variants. The Russian-built aircraft offers unmatched speed and offensive power, and the F-35 has seen widespread demand worldwide. Both types present advanced military capabilities, making them popular choices for strategic or specific missions.


Most Popular