Russian supermaneuverable Su-35 Flankers have started flying over Syria

Russian Gen. 4++ fighter jet has joined the air war over Syria.

Yet another Russian modern weapon system has joined the Syrian Air War.

Previously exposed by images appeared on some Russian aerospace forums (that allegedly showed the aircraft during trailing a Tu-154 during the deployment), supermaneuverable Su-35S fighters have started “to carry out military tasks last week”, as confirmed by Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov.

The (four) aircraft will provide cover to the Russian warplanes conducting raids in Syria, that are already being covered by both RuAF and Syrian jets as well as the S-400 Triumf battery installed at Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia.

According to the Interfax News Agency, the aircraft belong to the first batch delivered in October-November last year “that were initially attached to the 23rd fighter aircraft regiment of the 303rd guard combined aviation division of the 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army of the Eastern Military district stationed at the Dzengi airfield and relocated to the Privolzhsky airfield in Astrakhan in a later period.”

The aircraft deployed to Syria following the usual route over the Caspian Sea, Iran and Iraq.

The 4++ generation Su-35 is characterized by supermaneuverability. Although 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…), 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.

The deployment will give the Russians an opportunity to test their new combat plane in a real war environment.

Image credit: Oleg Belyakov/Wiki


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.


  1. as I said, if it is true their it’s van detect an f22 at 95 km, stealth has been obsoleted. If you have any notion of that being not true than you may have a point. But in two answers you have not made it.

    • Well given the fact that we (the public) do not know the actual overall RCS value of the F-22, I’ll differ to USAF claim that the F-22’s RCS is equivalent to that of a metal marble. That would be somewhere along the lines of 0.00016m2 and 0.0002m2. The Su-35’s Irbis-E PESA radar is advertised with a maximum detection range of 350-400km for a 3m2 target and 90km for a 0.01m2 target. A very very general rule of thumb is that actual tracking and targeting distances are half that of maximum detection ranges (there are other factors but for the sake of simplicity we can leave those out). So if were only talking fire control radars here the answer is NO.

      If we throw an IRST into the mix; the answer is still NO though this time with a “but”. Compared to traditional fire control radars we see on most any modern fighter jest today, IRST tracking and targeting range is INCREDIBLY short in comparison. So in a BVR sense where radar is most useful, the answer is no. At closer ranges (15-20 km for example… I don’t know just SWAGing it) the answer becomes yes. At long range BVR the answer is no BUT… at shorter ranges (WVR or close to merge) the answer is yes.

      • well, just to throw a counter example the EF was able to get a lock (!) at “over 50 km” and that is just the part they felt they could share (real distance remained of course classified).

        Even with a 50km locking ability, the F22 window of opportunity shrunk a lot, this even without putting in the mix the ability (at least for the EF) to use vectors of radars to improve detection ability and range.

        With either system (EF or SU) against the f22 the general accepted approach seems to value the F22 low visibility as “1” weight” while the opponent active counter measures (and in the casue of EF the ability to intercept the opponent missiles) a “0” weight.

        I have no idea who would come out on top, My 2 (Euro) cents are: En either machine I would hop on to go to war with, I would not feel like an underdog.

  2. “LOAL is bs “term” that US manufacturers came up with”

    Lock on after launch as pertaining to short range IR seeker missiles like AIM-9X (or others of the same category) ISN’T a BS term. I am sorry if you don’t fully understand the concept behind it or the technical difference from LOAL Radar or IR missiles compared to what is more widely used now.

    There is a reason why for now the F-22 is forced to use the AIM-9M while every other aircraft in US inventory can use the Xray variant.

    “What I find funny is how once again people assume they know all their is to know about Russian technology.”

    and people think they know all about western technology and capabilities.

    • Ok, the reason why LOAL is a BS term imo, is that the capability is already on the R-73. So when building something better one would expect it to have that capability already included. Instead Raytheon created this term and said this will be on the block-II missile.

      The original R-73 was already able to use data from the IRST sensor and then after it was launched it would achieve lock with its own sensor.

      (I react to the fact that the AIM-9x didn’t have the LOAL as if a car salesman tell me “well if you upgrade to this version of the car you also get a reverse gear”)

      With the F-22 the problem isn’t so much integrating the AIM-9x, the problem is with integrating the helmet mounted display.

      The first production F-22 lacked the HMD because it was a way to save time and money. An integration was planned for later. However, this does not mean that the F-22 could not use the original AIM-9x. The older AIM-9m doesn’t have that capability either so the solution was to achieve lock with the F-22 then open the missile bay and achieve lock with the AIM-9m. The same solution could have been used for the AIM-9x but the decision was made to wait either for the block-II 9x or for the JHMCS.

      All the plans to integrate the AIM-9x-block-II as well as the current version of the JHMCS are planned for the 3.3 upgrade for the F-22-block-30/35.

      Im not making this stuff up, this is all according to Janes.

      “Google: Lockheed Martin to upgrade F-22 for AIM-9X missile”

      I have heard from a friend at Nellis that USAF was actually considering a the Should USAF go ahead with this upgrade, then the AIM-9x could be integrated ahead of schedule. It would delay the JHMCS integration…

      Would be interesting to see if it is necessary to have a big display or if a small one eye display is plenty.

      Also, what is interesting is that it would finally raise the close combat ability of the F-22 to the level of Soviet fighters in the 80s ;)

  3. You are right on a few things. Others need a clarification. One is completely absolutely flat on yo’face WRONG.

    The R-73 had/has HOBs capability which makes it so effective. The Block II AIM-9X has both HOBs and LOAL (lock on after launch). Its LOAL capability would be more suitable for aircraft like F-35 or F-22.

    >One of the main reasons for this delay is that the AIM-9X Block I currently lacks the ability to lock on before launch when carried internally, as it would be on the F-22, though this capability is planned for the datalinked Block II missile.

    Current block 1 AIM-9X and earlier Mike series Sidewinders NEED their seeker head to be exposed in order to properly function. The block 2 AIM-9X would allow the F-22 and F-35 to carry these missiles internally. For F-22 (and F-35… though currently the F-35 carries the Sidewinder externally for reason already given) this would limit the exposure of their Sidewinders until they are finally launched. Currently the F-22 as well as other aircraft must have their sidewinders exposed to properly function as seen in this picture×533-131398.jpg

    Current iterations of Sidewinders and other WVR IR missiles come off the rails already locked onto their intended target. That is why in videos with a HUD or mission camera where a sidewinder is selected, pilots hear a buzz. That buzzing sound is the missiles own seeker head looking for the target.
    The AIM-9X block 2 on the other hand can be launched “blind”. With advanced data-linking from the the aircraft giving initial targeting and interception data until the Sidewinder’s own seeker head can then lock onto the aggressor aircraft on its own. This is unlike what current sidewinders do now coming off the rails already locked on with their own seeker head. You could apply LOAL to BVR radar guided missiles but for all intents and purposes its new for short ranged IR guided missiles.

    The future SACM will most likely replace the Sidewinder as it will have all aspect, HOBS, and LOAL. The SACM will also bridge the gap between mid range BVR radar guided missiles and short ranged IR guided missiles.

    (slide 8)

    The F-22 probably wont be getting the JMHCS that is seen on most western fighter aircraft. Most likely it will be something different though with similar capability. It is true though that having a HMD/CS for the F-22 would greatly expand its WVR capability.
    Back in 2013 the USAF did do a test and evaluation with the 422nd in Nellis AFB with the F-22 using the Scorpion HMCS. This was done merely as a proof of concept and validation. Unfortunately sequester hit shortly their after and further funding of the program stopped. Luckily though last year the USAF did put out a RFP to the industry for a HMD/CS for the F-22.

    The current JHMCS is a visor projected display system. Currently the JHMCS shows basic flight and targeting information.

    The more recent Helmet Mounted Symbology System used by the Typhoon is similar to the JHMCS but is slightly more advanced.

    The F-35’s HMD is all that on steroids. Not only can it show basic flight and targeting information. The pilot can display other sensor and avionics information on the visor as well such as targeting image from its EOTS. The HMD gen III gives the pilot a full 360 view around the aircraft using the DAS. When F-35 pilots say they could see through the floors of the cockpit… they mean it.

    Those systems are like the Shchel-3UM cueing system used for the Archer Missile in that they slave the missiles seeker head to where the pilot is “looking” (I put looking in quotes because where the pilot points his/her head is different from where the eyes actually look. So really their just moving their head enough to put the reticle on the intended target). The Shchel-3UM displays no real targeting or flight information of any kind.

    In a sense the IHADSS on the AH-64 is more advanced than the Shchel-3UM…

    So really the F-22 COULD deploy with the AIM-9X. It would have more WVR capability with the AIM-9X

    but you are correct. Without a HMD/CS the Raptor would never be able to take full advantage of the AIM-9Xs HOBS capability. The Mike version is an all aspect missile but it doesn’t have as wide of a engagement envelope as the Xray. The block 2 AIM-9X would give more flexibility to the Raptor.

    “Also, what is interesting is that it would finally raise the close combat ability of the F-22 to the level of Soviet fighters in the 80s ;)”

    yeah ummm this that flat on yo’face wrong I was mentioned earlier.

    Did the soviet fighter aircraft with the Archer missile and the Shchel-3UM have good close in capability… yes. Were Soviet Mig-29 and Flanker head and shoulders above western fighter aircraft of the same era. NO… especially if you compare it to F-22.

    When NATO and Russian pilots saw each others aircraft face to face for the first time at the Paris airshow in the late 80’s; it was generally agreed that the design and engineering differences between them were fundamentally different. The Russian aircraft were designed and engineered with the idea of simplicity and ease of manufacturing (low build quality by western standards). Western aircraft were more complex and had better pilot aircraft interface. It was agreed by BOTH SIDES the western fighter aircraft had (for the most part) more advanced systems like radar.
    Have western aircraft faced off against the Mig-29? Yes. Did both western aircraft and Mig-29 stand a chance? Yes. Were the Mig-29s shot down? YES. Were these confirmed kills? YES. Were these kills both at BVR and WVR? YES.

    (history lesson)
    The ATF (Advanced Tactical Fighter) Program that spawned the F-22 was in response to the development of the Mig-29 and Su-27 (both aircraft by the way came out AFTER current legacy gen 4 US fighter aircraft still flying today). The F-22 had one requirement… Air Dominance. This may sound or seem rather trite when western aircraft like Eagle and Tomcat were seen as Air Superiority. The F-22 wouldn’t just fly in and gain supremacy, it would fly in and gain complete dominance within the airspace.
    The F-22’s kinematic performance, advanced integrated avionics (possibly equaled by Typhoon and Rafale but bested by F-35), and stealth makes this aircraft one of a kind when it came into service. In its first operational debut exercise for Northern Edge in Alaska, 12 F-22s made a small portion of blue force but had the majority of blue force kills (108) with zero losses. To this day whenever F-22s participate in a large force operational exercise like the famous Red Flag, F-22s have win loss ratios disproportionate to their operational element. Since then, only in initial set ups for WVR DACT, do aircraft stand a chance against it… even then it is considered “exceedingly difficult” (as one Aggressor Eagle pilot told me)
    >When the Raptor finds itself in a dogfight, it is no longer beyond visual range, but the advantage of stealth isn’t diminished. It maintains “high ground” even at close range.

    “I can’t see the [expletive deleted] thing,” said RAAF Squadron Leader Stephen Chappell, exchange F-15 pilot in the 65th Aggressor Squadron. “It won’t let me put a weapons system on it, even when I can see it visually through the canopy. [Flying against the F-22] annoys the hell out of me.”

    Lt. Col. Larry Bruce, 65th AS commander, admits flying against the Raptor is a very frustrating experience. Reluctantly, he admitted “it’s humbling to fly against the F-22,” – humbling, not only because of its stealth, but also its unmatched maneuverability and power.
    >However, the toughest of the fighter jet to face in aerial combat, at least if you are seated in an F-16, is the F-22 Raptor: “It’s not a matter of trying to kill him, but to see how long you can survive!” as “Rico” says in “Viper Force: 56th Fighter Wing–To Fly and Fight the F-16” book by Lt. Col. Robert “Cricket” Renner USAF (Ret.)
    ( the title and the article for the most part is typical media sensationalism…. )
    >Two other German officers, Col. Andreas Pfeiffer and Maj. Marco Gumbrecht, noted in the same report that the F-22’s capabilities are “overwhelming” when it comes to modern, long-range combat as the stealth fighter is designed to engage multiple enemies well-beyond the pilot’s natural field of vision – mostly while the F-22 is still out of the other plane’s range. Grumbrecht said that even if his planes did everything right, they weren’t able to get within 20 miles of the next-generation jets before being targeted.

    So if an F-22 were to ever face off against a Mig-29 or Su-27 (or any modern variation of)… the Raptors stealth and integrated avionics would most likely mean that majority if not all encounters, the Raptor will be in a more advantageous position. Majority of successful air-to-air kills were/are not your Hollywood Top Gun, Iron Eagle turn and burn dogfight sequence. Successful air-to-air kills (in terms of historical data and operational AARs) have been through ambush. That is why the terms, “keep your head on a swivel” is so important. Majority of kills were either because they were too late to react or they simply just didn’t see them.
    Even if the Fulcrum or the Flanker managed to survive long enough to close the distance and get to the merge, they would always be on the defensive against the Raptor giving the Raptor the advantage. Aircraft that were on the defensive often have a lack of energy and the pilots lose SA.

    When Russia finally comes out with a finalized version of the PAKFA than I can say that Russia finally caught up to the US… though their stealth fighter isn’t as stealthy as the ones the US has; Raptor and Lightning II. Its avionics wont be as impressive as the Lighting II’s either.

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