New Russian Su-35S Super-Maneuverability Display Wows MAKS Crowds, Videos Go Viral

Following New F-35 Display at Paris, Moscow Wows with Sukhoi Su-35 Super-Maneuverability Display: But Does it Matter?

Video of Sukhoi’s Su-35 super-maneuverable aircraft flying an impressive new demonstration routine at the MAKS airshow in Russia this week has gone viral on social media.

This year’s updated Russian Sukhoi aerobatic demonstration, similar to previous Sukhoi and MiG demos, follows the first-ever aerobatic display of the American F-35A Lightning II at the Paris Air Show a month ago.

The Su-35S “Flanker E” is the 4++ generation variant of the Su-27 Flanker aircraft.

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.

Aviation analysts have long contended that displays of so-called “super maneuverability” at low speeds have little or no tactical value in the real world air combat environment. These displays do often lead to conversations comparing aircraft capabilities and re-open the never-ending debates about which aircraft design doctrine provides a real world tactical advantage.

Are such low speed maneuvers 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?

Real world tactical merit aside, Sukhoi’s display is sensational. The aircraft seems to depart the conventional control regime as it flips, twists and tumbles. The Su-35’s most remarkable sequence is a low speed “Pugachev’s Cobra” transitioning to a tumbling back flip followed by a side-slip to an inverted spin and then a classic recovery gained by pointing the aircraft’s nose to the ground to regain lost energy in exchange for altitude. The entire sequence is flown at altitude that presumably lives little margin for error, making it even more thrilling.

The massive International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS Airshow is happening now at Zhukovsky International Airport outside Moscow, Russia. The show, that runs from July 18-23rd, is one of the most important international airshows in the world. Some estimates suggest 40,000 more aviation enthusiasts and business people attend MAKS than the famous Paris Air Show that took place in June.

“In 2015, MAKS welcomed 404,000 visitors – 52,000 more than attended the Paris Air Show held at Le Bourget in the same year.” According to Russian Aviation Insider.

The MAKS Airshow continues through this weekend. We will report on highlights from the show after it concludes next week.

Top image: The SU-35 wowed MAKS audiences with a new demonstration routine outside Moscow. (Photo: RT)


About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.


  1. If the Russians dedicated as much time to developing decent avionics as they do to developing silly new maneuvers for airshow crowds…

    • If USA didn’t bankrupt itself on F-35, V-22, LCS, and Ford class, then maybe they wouldn’t need to depend on Russians for their space program.
      hehe in the midst of sanctions on Russia, USA has… bought helicopters(500M), bought rocket engines (1bln+) Bought seats on Russian rockets for the usa cosmonauts.

      • I’m almost certain that the scrapped shuttle program had nothing to do with those programs and everything to do with the fact that seven astronauts were incinerated over the skies of Texas. That shattered confidence in the program and it was totally cancelled. The program was to be reset during the Obama administration but the primary purpose of the shuttle, building the ISS, had been completed. There was no real point. After the last flight of the space shuttle in 2011 work began on the Orion. Work is still ongoing with the Orion.

      • When was the last time Russia deployed a BRAND NEW major weapon system?

        New fighter?
        New carrier?
        New destroyer?
        New bomber?

        Where’s the Russian shuttle?

  2. When it comes to super manuverebility, the Russians know that, when the eletronic warfare suits are so good, you only can get close to get a kill, then you need all mauveribilty you can get.
    To put all your money on BWR, it is just plain stupid.

    • How do the Russians plan to shoot something they can’t see? They going to just do a Cobra and pray it miracles up a kill for them?

      • And what makes them blind?) ..being Russians?).. but in the first place is at all that matters who shoots someone first? And yes they do have good bvr and other capabilities too.

          • Ever heard of f-117 being shot down by a very old soviet air defence system? ..but again, I am not talking about whos stick is longer… its just going to be a waste of time.. look at this thing crafted by humans (Russians are humans, trust me on this) it is amazing! Btw if you load this thing with weapons it would not be as impressive as without, we see what we want to see, ..if you see my point.

      • Probably planning on “seeing” then. The stated 90km detection against F-35 might be wishful thinking, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that detection and acquisition is very much possible. Never forget Russian planes have superb jamming and surprisingly effective countermeasures.

  3. “Aviation analysts have long contended that displays of so-called “super maneuverability” at low speeds have little or no tactical value in the real world air combat environment.”

    I think it’s more of a benefit to the pilots rather than anything else. If you want your fighter pilots to be glorified bus drivers, you give them a bus with bombs that can only go straight. Though then a drone would probably be better and cheaper choice. But if you want your pilots to think and experiment in the air, you give them a machine that can put their thinking into practice. How relevant it will be is difficult to say.

    While it’s true that super maneuverability is like bringing a knife to a gun fight, it is very important to realize that it is perfectly fine to do so if you have guys with artillery backing you up. Then all you need is a knife. And at least in Russia’s case, they have plenty of artillery. Once all the air fuel tankers and radar planes are shot down (no such thing as stealth fuel tanker) and command and control centers are saturated with missiles, maybe pilots will wish they had a knife.

    • I can tell one thing, I’m a virtual fighter and fly a lot in the 104th server, mostly using SU-27S with the fly by wire off in occasions, when the BVR ends and begins the WVR combat at low level, through the mountains with short range IR missiles, the other guy is in completely disvantage, to the point that many F-15 players asked to the DCS developer to restrict the “cobra” in SU-27 and generate fuselage fatigue, due the rate of kiillings using the so-called “super maneuverability”. Make a try guys

      • That whole comment to me was like airsofters looking like this…

        and saying they’re as good as this

        Also its funny that when Raptor pilots in REAL LIFE DACTs tried the cobra maneuver against eagles and and vipers in its early years of operation, they quickly learned to stop doing that. (Lots of sarcasm coming) Oh well, I guess your experience on a computer game means more then the experience of actual fighter pilots.

        • I dont think this guys with airsoft guns, have learnt anything about aircrafts, including technical manuals, BFM, ACM, proper use of the radar, countermeasures and avionics, vulnerabilities, brevity codes, Combat tactics and maneuvering, and flight with real life pilots in the sim. Maybe you dont take seriously the hardcore simmers, but we do. At least, when we post something here we know what we are talking about.

          • Yeah, sorry,Pepe… but you not only came out as arrogant, but trying to compare real life with a software that needs actual people to insert numbers(with biased sources too) is just not gonna cut it!

          • Analogy – A comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification. A correspondence or partial similarity. A thing that is comparable to something else in significant respects.

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