Check out this cool new video of the Russia’s supermaneuverable Sukhoi Su-35S doing some impressive (and probably worthless) stunts

Let’s have a look at the Su-35s 4++ generation jet through a really interesting footage.

The Su-35S “Flanker E” is the 4++ generation variant of the Su-27 Flanker aircraft, the Russian counterpart to the U.S. F-15 Eagle.

The multirole aircraft features thrust-vectoring, radar-absorbent paint, Irbis-E passive electronically scanned array radar, IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track) and the said ability to detect stealth planes like the F-35 at a distance of over 90 kilometers (…), the Khibiny radar jamming system along with the ability to use some interesting weapons, including the ultra-long range R-37M air-to-air missile that could target HVAA (High Value Air Assets) such as AWACS and tanker aircraft.

The aircraft were deployed to Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, in February 2016 to undertake air superiority and escort missions over Syria.

The following video is a collection of clips showing the aircraft and its ability to freely maneuver to point the nose and weapons in any direction, to achieve the proper position for a kill: something useful in case of WVR (Within Visual Range) engagements; pretty worthless to fight against the U.S. 5th Gen. stealth aircraft that would engage the Su-35S from BVR (Beyond Visual Range) exploiting their radar-evading capabilities as well as their ability to share information within a highly-networked battle force.

H/T Miguelm Mendoza for the heads-up

 

About David Cenciotti 4467 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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.

27 Comments

  1. Even though it’s raptor bait. The damn thing is a beautiful bird, very gracefull in flight. Would love a ride. But it would be killed at 80+ miles by AIM-120D/E if it even got airborne to begin with. Still, lover those classic Sukoi lones.

    • Yeah, I’m not so sure about the “raptor bait” business. Su35s has had modifications done to it to reduce its RCS so even the raptor will need to get a lot close to see it. Also the Su35s is teeming with EW and ECM to confuse enemy missiles. All this so it can get close in and personal against the enemy. Once it’s done this then the “probably worthless stunts” mentioned in this article will become a little bit more useful than you might think!

      • Oh great, so the SU 35 modifications change the Flanker’s RCS from a barn to a house. A house that a even an AIM 7E can find on bad day! Seriously….lay off the Russian kool aid (Do you ever think why Sukhoi is developing the PAK FA instead producing warmed over Flankers forever!?)

        And good luck using EW against extremely hard to detect LPI radar systems (DRFM EW system wouldn’t even know what signals to replicate/emulate!) or passively cued and guided weapons. The SU 35 ECM is pretty useless against IR guided or active radar guided air to air missiles that has gone active a few seconds from impact….past the jammers burn through range….seemingly coming from nowhere. The Khibiny system may as well be a cabbage!

        The only thing the Su 35 will get close and personal to is an AMRAAM, Meteor, ASRAAM or AIM 9X with its name on it!

        I would even pick a Gripen E over the overrated SU 35 and I am not even a big fan of the Gripen E!

        • The RCS modifications, along with ECM and EW, decrease the Su35s detectability. The raptor will have to get closer to fire its missiles. As soon as it does this it will give away its position and the Su35s will close in.

          I am not arguing the Su35 is a “better” fighter than the raptor. Given it is cheaper, countries will be able to field more Su35s and their method of countering the raptor will be to get in close and fight them WVR. There they will have an advantage of the raptor .

          Also I think you’re making too much of BVR missiles. They’ve proven to be highly inaccurate in the past. Sure they’ve made improvements to BVR missiles but the technology to counter them has also improved.

      • “Su35s has had modifications done to it to reduce its RCS so even the raptor will need to get a lot close to see it. ”

        > I also assume that when you say “see it” you’re talking about what the aircraft’s systems and avionics are able to detect, track, identify, and eventually target. If you’re talking visually as in the pilot had to make visual contact with Mk.1 forward looking day time optical eye balls for PID… that is really obvious. I’ll assume the earlier assumption.
        I will agree that the Su-35 has had some RCS reducing modifications done to it. However to say that that an F-22 has to get close to “see it” is a really long stretch (I mean distance from one end of the San Francisco – Oakland bay bridge to the other). The Su-35 has had some RAM applied to some surface areas (most people will agree that the RAM on the Su-35 isn’t as good as the RAM used in the F-22), minor structural changes, and minor changes to surface control areas. The overall shaping and design of the Su-35 isn’t something one would call stealthy. The French Rafale and the US Super Hornet both have far more stealthy design applications to them when compared to the Su-35, and yet the F-22 (and F-35) can still “see them” from considerable BVR distances.

        “Also the Su35s is teeming with EW and ECM to confuse enemy missiles. ”

        > This is a bit of a toss up. However with most if not all fighter aircraft these defensive systems are only effective so long as the aircraft have good early warning systems. F-22s have demonstrated on a seemingly regular basis that they are able to detect, track, target, and eventually engage oth aircraft without giving away their presence.
        German Typhoon commander admited that even if the Typhoons and pilots do everything right they were unable to get within 20km (that is still considered BVR) without getting targeted or engaged on first. F-22 was able to successfully sneak up on come in very close range to an Iranian F-4 before telling him to leave. More recently F-22s were able to get within visual range of Syrian Su-24s and follow them for 15 minutes without the Su-24 pilots knowing.
        If an F-22 did “see you” and decided to engage, you most likely wouldn’t know until the seeker on an AMRAAM C7 or D went active. Then you’d have about 5-8 seconds.

        “All this so it can get close in and personal against the enemy.”

        > Against other 4th or 4.5 gen aircraft, most likely. Against 5th gen aircraft like Raptor or Lightning II… not likely.

        “Once it’s done this then the “probably worthless stunts” mentioned in this article will become a little bit more useful than you might think!”

        > Actual engagements aren’t like Ace Combat (no matter how fun that game is). You don’t get cool points for dropping your airspeed to 120kts so you can do a Cobra in HOPES the pilot in the other aircraft doesn’t just punch it and go vertical or his/her wingman doesn’t lag behind a bit so they drill you with guns or send a complex fragmenting HE warhead at you. I’ve had a chance to speak with Raptor pilots and they all seem to unanimously agree the stuff you see at airshows to wow the crowd isn’t what they would use in a dogfight.

    • With a single Aim missile, Is it that easy to kill a maneuverable fighter with good fighter skills? In Gulf wars the pilots are not sufficiently trained so they have nice shots and with properly trained pilot it’s not easy to bring this bird down.

        • Exactly, then it’s more on tactics and skill of pilot or situational awareness provided to them. The pilots should have practiced the timing to maneuver and I think based on the readings mostly timing is a greatest defense but not every one can be good at making the choice.

    • Just imagine, that supermaneurability will allow her to evade the missile. After that 5th gen stealth fighter magically turns into sitting duck.

      • Just one thing…..you need to know that a missile is inbound before you can even evade the missile with you “supermaneurability” (oh btw, high alpha energy sapping slow air speed manoeuvres will get you killed by an air to air missile……air to air missile: thank you for killing your energy and not really changing your position in space!)

        How are you going to evade a missile fired by a 5th generation/VLO adversary that you can’t see at all at long distances plus you have no idea about it’s disposition (is it targeting you?)? Are you going to backflip and forward flip your SU 35 all the time all over the sky for that missile that may come at any time? Good luck with that……you have lost the initiative….you are on the defensive and you have just forward flipped your SU 35 into an AMRAAM!

        • There are plenty of systems which were designed to warn pilot about incoming threats,including missiles. They detect missile’s homing radar, or track missile’s engine heat and not only warn pilot, but automatically release flares or switch on ECM stuff. Moreover, according to some sources, new generation counter-missile system developed for PAK FA will not only warn pilot, but also perform automatic missile-evading maneuvers. Talk about AI!

          As for loosing energy – this is where come thrust vectored engine nozzles: Russian planes with good old round, but 3D-vectored nozzles can accelerate in almost all directions – something F-22 with his stealthy flat nozzles and 2D vectoring simply can not perform.

          • “As for loosing energy – this is where come thrust vectored engine nozzles: Russian planes with good old round, but 3D-vectored nozzles can accelerate in almost all directions”

            > Just because it has 3 dimensional TVC doesn’t make it better or that it can do stuff like this all the time…

            https://youtu.be/BK8cg1guFAw

            Also understand that those maneuvers are often done while lightly loaded (as seen in that demonstration display and in the video in this article) and are done a relatively low speeds when compared to typical flight envelopes experienced during WVR engagements. Though those maneuvers are indeed impressive most pilots will agree that it is merely a byproduct than of actual utility or use. This aircraft and its pilot can do some very impressive maneuver displays. Does this mean it is an excellent dog fighter and can use those maneuvers to effectively spoof a modern day missile?

            https://youtu.be/C3DQ9rcLBXE

            At high AoAs and how instaneous the maneuver is, the aircraft WILL LOOSE SPEED AND ENERGY. It doesn’t matter if it is an F-22, Su-35, or a PAKFA. It is just the laws of physics. No amount of thrust vector control will overrule or diminish that FACT.

            “something F-22 with his stealthy flat nozzles and 2D vectoring simply can not perform”

            > I’ve made a comment earlier and I don’t feel like re-explaining it in a different manner so I’m just going to copy and paste…

            This isn’t really a detriment to the F-22. The Raptors TVC only works in the pitch and has 20degree movement up and down. The Su-35 might have better yaw and role rate over the Raptor but that doesn’t really make it vastly superior over the Raptor. Paul Metz a former test pilot who flew the F-22 had this to say…
            *By using the thrust vector for pitch control during maneuvers the horizontal tails are free to be used to roll the airplane during the slow speed fight. This significantly increases roll performance and, in turn, point-and-shoot capability. This is one of the areas that really jumps out to us when we fly with the F-16 and F-15. The turn capability of the F-22 at high altitudes and high speeds is markedly superior to these older generation aircraft. I would hate to face a Raptor in a dogfight under these conditions.*

            The F-22 has very large control surfaces. It’s yaw and role rate is better than the current F-15 and F-16. Those two aircraft are still regarded as very good and competent close range dogfighters, and yet the F-22 exceeds both of them.
            ***

            The question is that people have to ask is when to use those maneuvers and more importantly just how effective are those maneuvers in those situations? How often can they do those maneuvers?
            I am lucky love relatively close to Nellis AFB, home of Red Flag and USAF Fighter Weapon School. I attend the open house event (airshow) damn near every year so long as I can get the time off for it. I get a chance to speak to a lot of fighter pilots and the people who maintain these aircraft. I remember last year talking to some aggressor pilots and Raptor drivers.
            A Raptor pilot at the rank of Major said that he often employs more traditional maneuvers (split S, rolling scissors, high/low yoyo, etc) when in a WVR engagement. Granted with the speed, power, and agility of the Raptor he is more effective. Just because he can do a Cobra maneuver or a high alpha back flip doesn’t mean he should. He also mentioned that he never really gets a chance to do them anyways because the aggressors are usually shot down far before they get to the merge without them knowing. The controllers have to intentionally set up a WVR DACT event just so the Raptors can dogfight.

            Also just to touch on it…
            “Moreover, according to some sources, new generation counter-missile system developed for PAK FA will not only warn pilot, but also perform automatic missile-evading maneuvers. Talk about AI!”

            > Aircraft have had similar automated systems like that for years. Systems that automatically dispense countermeasures or defensively jam incoming threats. I don’t know about automatically performing maneuvers or calling it an “AI”. We have forms of “AI” in our everyday computers (desk tops and laptops), smart devices, and even our cars now. Saying the PAKFA has “AI” in it sounds and seems more like advertisement hyperbole to me.

      • Thats a nice fantasy, but aircraft (even supermanouverable ones) cannot out turn missiles in the endgame.

        • That’s a bit incorrect. Missile homing system tracks target in a rather narrow area in front of it, so a good high-load maneuver will move aircraft out of tracking conus, and missile will lost track. Add some flares and ECM, and plane has good chances to survive.

          • Against older tracker heads and missiles I would say you are correct. Against newer missiles with more advanced tracking and trageting, you’de not really wrong but you sure aren’t correct either.

            Example AIM-9X block

            The AIM-9X has a much wider FoV compared to the older Mike version of the Sidewinder. Not just for HOBs engagement but also so that the AIM-9X can “stare” at the intended target better during evasive maneuvering. The seeker head on the AIM-9X is also more advanced over the older Mike version (and even the current AA-11 Archer). In testing the AIM-9X was far less susceptible to countermeasures such as flares and even DIRCM.

            From my understanding it was once taught that to spoof an incoming missile you turn hard while going full power before the missile strikes. This was taught because the missile will use up most of its fuel or propelent to close the distance quickly to narrow the NEZ. However with newer missiles this has become increasingly difficult as the missiles themselves have become more maneuverable over the previous.

            Even though we don’t have any real world operational combat data of how our most current missiles are, in testing when compared to older models the outcome isn’t looking good. The latest Sidewinders and AMRAAMs have all had successful engagements against maneuvering QF-16s.

      • F22 is also supermanuverable and has better avionics to defeat the Russian weapons. It’s possible in a visual guns on guns fight the raptor would suffer some. However I think the newest gen AIM-120s will change things.

  2. So old-school. Look at those missiles hanging off the wings, the large vertical stabs, no RAM, RADAR-reflecting protrusions coming off every part of the airframe. This thing would light up RADARs like fireworks on the 4th of July! Up against Raptor or Lightning II, this aircraft would stand little chance of survival. F-22 and F-35 would put these planes through a meat grinder.

    • Well the SU 35 is for people who think that running around in a white and fluoro orange jumpsuit on a jungle battlefield is a good idea LOL!

  3. Got to hand it Russian media… they really know how to showcase their stuff. How useful those manuevers in actual combat is up to debate (though in my humble honest opinion, damn near useless and is a 1 for 1 type maneuver). Also the often 90km claim is on a good day. The IRST on the Su-35 from my understanding isn’t that good in terms of imaging and pixel resolution. So in reality the IRST on the Su-35 at that claimed distance (or any IRST on any aircraft for that matter) would only see a heat source.

    • Yeah, a heat source of a rapidly approaching missile LOL….if the SU 35 IRST can find and track it in the first place.

  4. Damn the Russians sure can built them, what an absolutely beautiful aircraft.

    Hey and since when is being maneuverable “Worthless” ?

    • Being maneuverable is indeed useful but it is not the only and/or the most important property of a top grade fighter aircraft nowadays.

    • This kind of maneuverability (low airspeed, high alpha, energy depleting, nose pointing maneuvering) is useful in the super close visual range type of fight.

      Considering the US and Russia both have fighters and missiles capable of shots at 50+ miles, most tacticians think that air to air engagements from now on will likely never progress to a close quarters situation like that. I wouldn’t say these qualities are useless.. they’re simply not very likely to be used.

      One could argue that the US strategy of focusing on stealth to the detriment of other qualities is not the best idea, but it’s certainly no worse a strategy than employing supermanouverable aircraft with the RCS of the broad side of a barn.

  5. Quote: “something useful in case of WVR (Within Visual Range) engagements; pretty worthless to fight against the U.S. 5th Gen. stealth aircraft that would engage the Su-35S from BVR (Beyond Visual Range) exploiting their radar-evading capabilities as well as their ability to share information within a highly-networked battle force.”

    Sorry, but that assumes radar-evasion can’t be defeated and, even more doubtfully, that all that information sharing, which requires radio transmissions with a huge data flow, can’t be tracked. Research what hackers are doing with little $10 SDR (software-defined radio) chips, and you’ll come away convinced that, if it emits, it can or in the near future can be tracked—no matter how complex the scheme used for hiding the signal. And keep in mind that those receiving stations won’t radiate, so they can’t be targeted with anti-radiation missiles.

    Germans made a similar mistake during WWII. They thought their tactical communications fighting in the east were stealthy simply because, with their small mobile antennas and crude receivers, the range wasn’t that great. Clued in by British radio amateurs who were picking up coded messages from the fighting, the Brits put high-gain rhombic antennas on top of lashed together 120-foot poles and listened in. Being able to pick up those signals was as critical as breaking their Enigma encryption.

    Something similar was true for Allied Huff-duff or high-frequency direction finding used to locate German subs during WWII. They didn’t need to locate those U-boats precise enough to drop a bomb on them. They simply needed a location precise enough to steer a convoy around them or send search planes to locate.

    And keep in mind that locating the F-35 doesn’t have to be precise enough for a missile strike. It can be used to send a fighter at tree-top level close enough to be directly under an incoming F-35. That fighter can then head upward, either engaging that F-35 WVR or it can pop off a missile at the flat belly of that F-35, which is going to be reflecting a lot of radar signal. Those championing the F-35s visual stealth are forgeting that once in visual range, an enemy fighter can stay within range, advantaged by greater maneuverablity and the fact that it can carry a lot more air-to-air missiles than an F-35.

    I can understand why the U.S. military hierarchy, after spending huge sums on weaponsystem built around an F-35, might be inclined to blind itself to its faults. But whatever the rationale, it’s the result is what the Greeks called hubris and regarded as the forerunner of disaster. Putting all your eggs (here a particular weapon’s system) is always folly. It’s a good tactical axiom that every trait of your foe—even those that appear to advantage him—can be turned your advantage.

    For the record, during the Vietnam War, I worked at Eglin AFB on a radar at A7 designed to function like the Soviet SAM-2 missile system. Crude and simple, you might call it, but for all that it was a clever design. I wouldn’t advise our military planners to underestimate the Russians, particularly given their deep national paranoia about being attacked and the fact they’ve had over three decades to work out counters to stealth.

    Nor should we forget that the Germans were blindsided by their unwillingness to believe that the Allies could intercept and decode their traffic. And that’s all they need to do with an F-35 as a command post—intercept and decode its traffic. Intercepting will tell them where it is. Decoding its data will give them a picture of what it’s seeing—and thus a more precise idea where it is.

    Heck, decoding that data will give this enemy and excellent idea about the disposition of our forces including where all the F-35s are. We’ll be giving them our picture of the aerial battlefield. That can’t be good.

    • Get with the times. It’s not the 1970s anymore…

      Good luck intercepting a highly directional/narrow beam (almost like a laser), highly encrypted and highly frequency agile datalink like MADL. Can an enemy ELINT/SIGINT platform position itself extremely precisely between 2 fighters or other flying platforms that are constantly moving and frequently changing directions…..for prolonged periods of time (to intercept anything of use!)…..before it eats an AMRAAM or IR AAM in the face or tail? Not bloody likely…make that pretty much no! And this is before the problem of figuring out the constantly changing transmission pattern of the datalink and decrypting the datalink. We are not talking about Grand Pa’s omnidirectional Link 16 here.

      All the enemy ELINT/SIGINT personnel will be hearing is frankly static.

      Oh yeah, don’t you think the Blue Force will be actively spoofing (trolling) enemy ELINT/SIGINT forces with not too hard to crack + track signals filled with blatantly false tactical information….goading the enemy into making disastrously bad tactical and strategic decisions (already done in WW II….pre D Day landings). It’s called tactics my friend…..

      • Not to mention those AMRAAMS will be using the same hard to Crack data link to get to thier target. Good luck Ivan.

Comments are closed.