Sukhoi Su-35 (Flanker-E / Super Flanker) Multirole Fighter Aircraft
Development of a more advanced version of the Su-27 Flanker produced the impressive Su-35 Flanker-E - now in Russian service in noticeable numbers.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Sukhoi Su-35 (NATO: "Flanker-E") is the latest (2013) variant of the successful Su-27 "Flanker" family of air superiority aircraft. The original Su-27 was born in a late 1970s Soviet Air Force initiative to counter the American McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle air superiority mount. Since then, the type's tactical value has broadened considerably in the ground attack role and the line has even spawned the navy-centric carrier-based Su-33. The Su-35 is marketed as a true 4th/4.5th Generation multirole performer built upon the strong and proven qualities of the Su-27 line - retaining its air-to-air prowess while incorporating advanced ground attack features. The Su-35 emerged from the modified Su-27M developmental series to which the finalized "Su-35" designation came about in 1993 though the aircraft was already publically displayed by the time of the 1992 Farnborough Air Show. Ten total prototypes of the Su-35 were then built, four being conversions from existing Su-27s while the rest being new-build aircraft beginning official Russian evaluation in 1996. The Su-35 differs from the original Su-27 in its inherent multirole capabilities, highly modernized avionics (including the new Tikhomirov NIIP Irbis phased antenna array), long range endurance, thrust vectoring (and new) NPO Saturn 117S engines and streamlined aerodynamic qualities. First flight was recorded in June of 1998 and, after an extended period of testing, formally entered production after adoption by the Russian Air Force as the "Su-35S" in 2010.
The aircraft features an integrated in-flight refueling probe, provision for ECM (Electronic CounterMeasure) pods, upgraded and more powerful engines, larger wing surface areas and a forward and rear-facing Phazotron radar system capable of simultaneous tracking of 24 targets up to 62 miles (100km) away over uneven terrain. An additional auxiliary internal reserve fuel tank has been added as well to bring about the require operational range. The cockpit sports an updated color CRT display as well as HUD (Head-Up Display) along with digital fly-by-wire (FBW) capability with quadruple redundancy - the onboard computers able to to find four different ways to achieve the desired flight control action. Avionics include an Irbis-E passive phased array radar system. The advanced nature of the Su-35 nets it the formal classification of "4th Generation Fighter" - though its true capabilities go well beyond the original/current crop of 4th Generation mounts while falling short of the standard adopted for true 5th Generation mount (such as the American Lockheed F-22 Raptor series).
Outwardly, the Su-35 retains much of the clean sleek lines of the Su-27. It is a noticeably large aircraft with well-swept wings, a long running forward fuselage and side-by-side engine layout. The Su-35 makes use of a nose cone to house its powerful tracking radar system. Twin vertical tails, each sitting atop the engine installations, are fitted aft on the fuselage in the usual way. Cockpit visibility is excellent for a machine of this class. The engines exhaust through thrust vectoring rings at the extreme aft section of the fuselage, providing excellent maneuverability and allowing the Su-35 to complete moves off limits to other 4th Generation mounts. The Su-35 also features the Flanker-style stinger at the tail - an extended portion of fuselage housing a rear-looking radar facility.
Power is served through 2 x Saturn 1117S afterburning turbofan engines with the afforementioned thrust vector control. The engines output at 32,000lbs thrust each on full thrust and roughly 19,400lbs each on dry thrust alone. The thrust vectoring system allows for excellent agility when compared to the conventional Su-27 mount, the aircraft able to make tighter turns for evasion in a close-range dogfight or for out maneuvering incoming homing/guided missiles (the Russians have adopted an agile-minded approach to modern dogfighting unlike the speed/stealth-minded appraoch of the West). The Su-35S lists a top speed of Mach 2.25 at altitude, roughly 1,500 miles per hour and range, on internal fuel, is out to 1,900 nautical miles while Su-35S can ferry out to 2,400 nautical miles. The Su-35S will have the capability to operate at service ceilings of 60,000 feet and sport a 55,100 feet-per-minute climb rate.