Forget the F-22 and F-35, this is a real Super Maneuverable Fighter plane: the Russian Su-35 Flanker-E

The Su-35 (NATO designation Flanker E), Russia’s latest version of the famous super-maneuverable multirole fighter jet has demonstrated its stunning capabilities during the first day of the 50th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.

During its display, the 4++ generation aircraft has showcased some almost impossible manoeuvres, demonstrating unbelievable low-speed handling authority.

Ok, it’s not stealth (even if some sources say it can detect stealth planes like the F-35 at a distance of over 90 kilometers), but once engaged in a WVR (Within Visual Range) air-to-air engagement, it can freely maneuver to point the nose and weapons in any direction, to achieve the proper position for a kill.

Some weeks ago, someone was impressed by a (quite normal) F-35’s High AOA test flight video.

Bill Flynn, Lockheed test pilot responsible for flight envelope expansion activities for the JSF recently said that all three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter will have better kinematic performance than any fourth-generation fighter plane with combat payload, including the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The F-35 maneuverability shown in the video seems far to be special. Unlike the Su-35’s impressive one.

Image credit: Erwan Malgras

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

32 Comments

    • Nothing ‘scary’ about yet more Russian over-hyped scrap metal….

      How many Western fighters have Russian fighters shot down in the last 25 years?

  1. And why the HELL do neither the F-22 nor F-35 have fully 3D thrust vectoring?

    With the amount of money thrown into these too boondoggles, there is no excuse for lack of super maneuverability.

    • If you want to add cost for a feature that is nice for showboating go for it. When you’re flying over 350+ knots in a dogfight my opinion is the addition vector wouldn’t do much for you at all, it’s only useful for low speed and the wow factor.

    • US aerial doctrine has always been using tech first and as a last resort close range dogfight, so in the end we “don’t need super manuverabilty”. No matter how much we are told that Vietnam changed aerial warfare we are going again backwards, take for example only the USAF version of the F-35 has a gun.

      • I’m not an american, but the B/C model can carry gun pods with more rounds than the A model, and also American fighters generally carry more rounds than their Russian counterparts.

        As for Super-maneuverability, the F-22 is the most maneuverable combat aircraft to date, even the Eurofighter website acknowledges this, all while claiming that the EF can outmaneuver the Su-27 at combat speeds, can the Su-35 do better, probably at slow speeds due to TVC..

        The Pak-FA has yet to prove itself as more maneuverable than the Raptor, it certainly hasnt done anything impresive in testing.

        Hey at least I’v seen the F-35 do post stall maneuvers in testing, the PAK-FA doesn’t do anything yet but fly circles

        • That is Pak-Fa stall test ant it’s tests really going super fasr if we compare with F-35 which strugges about anything and carries 4 -.- air to air missle…

          Su-35 carries 12 from that and as simple logic tells. if u manage to reach with a su-35 inside a f-35 fleet, i think results would be devistating…

          • the f35 also carry them internally, which means they don’t have any drag from them, thus making it faster. it also would just go vertical and pump the su-35 full of lead if it started doing those hilarious moves inside the fleet. so thank you but i will keep with vertical, and low drag stealth

    • 3D thrust vectoring has dubious benefits in close combat apart from risky last gasp maneuvers, and putting on awesome airshows. The raptor in fact, takes a thrust penalty (deliberately designed) by using flat nozzles in order to maximize stealth.

      IMO, the strength of TV comes into play at higher speeds, where a raptor can maneuver without deflecting any surfaces, and thus maintain energy before an engagement.

      The F-35 is a strike fighter, and adding complexity and weight for a feature that it will never use, even in CAP would just make it an unnecessary expense.

      For a good knowledge base and further development on these answers, try f-16.net forums

    • A well known aggressor american pilot, who’s flown F15, 16 and Mig29, felt that 3D (and even the 2D’s F22) thrust vectoring system, it is somewhat worthless WVR. BVR is still the US’ doctrine.

  2. Very impressive. I say scrap the F-35 Paper Weight and F-22 Hanger Queen and buy a fleet of these puppies….for a fraction of the cost of the Lockheed developed/public funded works program for future museum pieces. It is no accident Lockheed is not flying the F-35 and F-22 at this year’s Paris air show when other country’s are fielding far better and more affordable aircraft.

    • The F-22 has far more potential than the Su-35 ever will. Buy Su-35s? So we can require spare parts and a logistics network that is totally non-compatible with our current one? Not to mention incompatibility with our weapon systems and avionics. All for the sake of some air-show tricks?

      You want a real fighter, put the F-22 back into production with some improvements. Side AESA arrays, IRST, a helmet mounted sight, etc. Make it the fighter it has the potential to be.

        • Certainly no more costly than buying the rights to manufacture the Su-35 which would then need to be “westernized” for our avionics, weapon systems, and engines. Look beyond the 3D thrust vectoring and it’s still a fighter that doesn’t offer much more than the latest variants of the F-15E. The F-22 may only have 2D thrust vectoring but what possible combat utility would some of the crazier maneuvers here have? Stealth is the far greater edge to have.

          • To paraphrase Boeing (MacAir), 3D thrust vectoring enables an aircraft to put on a great demonstration at airshows, but does’t have much to do with actual combat.

            So far as cost goes, there is an unfortunately small faction urging DoD to purchase some uprated F-15s. There is an opening in the production line that would work out well to extend the usefulness of the F-15 fleet at a very advantageous cost.

      • The Law of logistics, F22 = about 350 $ SU-35 = 65 $, how many SU-35’s can a F22 shoot down at once, mmmm Not enough!! Plus USA aint got money? the rest of the world is developing and as in the past 53% of USA technologies came from outside? now no money? boy USA is in for a surprise!!!

        Stealth – China busy with J31, China doing things at a 3rd of the cost and a 5th of the time in comparison to USA? Yes they are still about 15 years behind in some criteria, but at current determination they are really going to be on level technologies with Russia and USA

        • VeOnly IF china steals or buys the tech! You sound like a lot of chijese national fanboys who are foolish enough to believe china,is actually a “world power”.sad. The J31 doesn’t even have the capabilities of the F-35 lightning, and much of its stealth tech came from REVERSE ENGINEERING F-117 tech, already 2 decades behind. China is NOT the military juggernaut it pretends to be( or else it would have TAKEN taiwan years ago.)

          Remember this- china has an economy only as long as the US allows it to have one. People in the US are waking up, and are becoming more willing to buy American again, even if it costs a bit more, qhich means the poor quality control so prevalent in china will put its products OUT of fashion.

          As for military power? China is still regional with NOT real world strategic threats. Their mission is try and match the west and russia to push for concessions, but not conflict….

        • Humm, ever see how many fatal elevator accidents there are in China? Considering that Otis has been making near fool proof elevators for decades, it is shocking that Chinese companies continue to make such dangerous junk. How does this apply to fighters? It all boils down to execution, not the availability of tech. As for your comments about the rest of the world economies – don’t look now – but China is in real trouble.

        • Yes, enough. The idea would be to shoot down as many as you can, before they even know a F22 is in the area, then high tail it out of there to reload more missiles while other F22s deal with the rest.

      • I think other counties,one of those is Russia is laughing at the US when the US Developed and produced the first F-35’s.Its like US is biting their nose off just to get these planes on the air,even though they are aware that like the F-22 these planes are expensive and complex.Haven’t the US learned the lesson of the F-22 when it was firstly being mass produced,even the congress was aware and undeniable that the F-22 was an expensive aircraft,even for the US to maintain production so the congress slashed the actual numbers to be built.Even though I hate Russians I’m gonna take their side when it comes to spending and producing military vehicles and aircraft’s.

    • Not surprising some people are impressed by all this flash. It’s a great airshow place, stripped of armourment and with a light fuel load, not to mention theres a huge difference between low speed airshow stunts and actual air combat. I’d MUCH rather have an F-22 and even an F-35 in my corner. Planes designed for war fighting as opposed to planes made to impress people at airshows, that’s the difference.

      • Agreed. I’ve seen the F-22 in person several times, that thing is impressive to say the least. Of course, with the F-22’s avionics and tactical abilities, “dog fights” are virtually a thing of the past. The fight would be over before the aircraft got within 150 miles of each other, at least. What most of these “foreigners” fail to realize, while there are “published” specs about the F-22 (and others), I can promise you they’re not the “whole truth”. I know this for a fact, having held a secret security clearance working for the government doing air traffic control. While Russian may flaunt with openess about what the SU-35 ‘might’ be able to do, we modestly boast “some” of what the F-22 has to offer.

          • i would love to see that happen. again the f22 makes the dog fights a thing of the past. it strikes and is gone. the su35 can see it, so what? the f22 has a smaller amount of weaponry, but has a bigger bang. the f22 has weaknesses but its strengths outdo those. the only thing that could shoot down a f22 is another f22, or maybe a f35. nice try but the f22 would still end the fight before it began

      • F35 is a flying turkey, it cannot even outperform the equipment it is supposed to replace. It is supposed to do 9G, it cannot come close. F35 and F22 are not proven in real life combat with +4 fighters, their prowess is the byproduct of propaganda.

    • You want America…To buy Russian jets? Yeah, never going to happen. Both sides would be worried about espionage and secret stealing.

  3. F-35 cannot even fly.

    F-22 has too many bugs and costs too much to fly over enemy airspace in contested regions.

    Su-35 or MiG-35 will never be produced in credible numbers and anyway their maintenance is way too expensive and technically difficult for the common Western enemies.

    Maybe J-10’s and JF-17’s could join outdated Soviet built MiG models as actual foes in the coming years, but again China should be more interested in keeping good economic relationships with the West than arming its enemies.

    Existing NATO aircraft are expanding their roles more and more while working with drones and other assets.

    Modern aerial warfare is a networking matter rather than a solo stunting anyway.

    • the f35 is very capable of flying, and what bugs does the f22 have? none that i can think of. and yes the f22 is expenseive, but i would rather have a f22 than a j31, or a su35

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