It is often difficult to accurately assess the actual performance of a combat aircraft, especially when it is surrounded by an aura of confidentiality. However, Justin Bronk, a renowned analyst at the very famous Royal United Services Institute, or Rusi, of London, does not hesitate to question the real capabilities of Russian Su-57 fighters and Chinese J-20 fighters, the two national flagships of the declared adversaries of the United States, especially when compared to the American F-22 and F-35. The RAND Corporation, in an analysis of air power in Europe, bears more or less the same observation. Are these assessments founded, and can we deduce from them an incontestable Western and especially American technological superiority in this field, today and for the years to come?
The Su-57, a different conception of air warfare
Like its armored vehicles, the design of Russian combat aircraft responds to an operational logic that is very different from that used by the United States and the West in general. Indeed, the Russian air forces do not necessarily seek to obtain air supremacy in order to deploy the firepower of their aviation, but they participate, along with other systems, and in particular the very multi-layered anti-aircraft systems. dense in the Russian forces, to prohibit the adversary from obtaining this superiority. And the design of the Su-57 meets this specific need.
Indeed, the Russian engineers have favored on this aircraft characteristics such as speed, maneuverability, range and carrying capacity, accepting that its stealth will be less than that of American combat planes like the F -35 or the F-22. These characteristics are indeed much more important for hunting and interception missions, than they can be for attack and suppression missions, for which stealth remains an important asset in order to avoid be targeted by enemy air defenses. In addition, the Su-57 is, like the Su-27 its ancestor, more of a platform than a model of fighter plane, and it is to be expected to see many specialized versions appear, such as this was the case with the multi-mission Su-30, the on-board fighter Su-33, the attack Su-34, and the air supremacy Su-35s, all derived from the original Su-27.
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