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. Well there are people saying that modern air warfare has nothing to do with manouvreability.Its 1st look 1st kill.There are people saying that manouvreability is stil a thing…well im between these opinions.Stealth means higher survival ability,but so does manouverability.We saw a Su22 evading an AIMX9!Imagine a Su35 if can avoid an incoming missile.In my opinion its a combination of these two elements to make the ‘perfect’ aircraft.

    • Supersonic manouvrability is very important as you can shoot bvr missiles and start turning back: you need good radar with very wide radian, (new typhoon aesa has 200 degrees coverage thanks to repositioning antenna), very good bvr missiles , better meteor then amraam. Su 35 has got just decent radar and very poor bvr missile and high speed manouvrability (both istantaneous and costant tun rate are vey poor in supersonic);

          • Really. the whole world agrees that SU-27 derivatives have colossal RCS’.

            Just use your eyes…

            • Whole world? Not at all, just Western military fanboys. I agree the Su-27 has large RCS (15m2) but the Su-35S is a completely different story.

              • And what shaping or RCS reduction measures does the Su-35 enjoy that have reduced it’s RCS significantly?

                • Many informations about the reduction of the Su-35S’s RCS can be found in this article.


                  A few citations.

                  “The improved radar stealth reduces the reflectance of the Su-35 in the X radio waveband and in the angle range of ±60°.”


                  “The main source of the Su-35’s head-on RCS is the inlets. The straight duct provides direct visibility for the entire face of the engine compressor. While this may be good aerodynamics, Bill Sweetman noted that “the inlet might have been designed to advertise the fighter’s presence at the greatest possible range.” Part of the solution was a high-performance, ferro-magnetic RAM for the compressor face and duct walls. This model was carried through a work of radar signature reduction of approximately of 25db with the application of a process developed in experimental way with the Berkut and later perfected in the turbines of the new version for the Su-35. This goes beyond the application of a new type of absorbent material of high performance with bigger capacity of durability when subjected to the high temperatures emitted by the turbines. The modified Su-35 also has a treated cockpit canopy which reflects radar waves, concealing the high RCS contribution from metal components in the cockpit. Beyond these changes, radar absorbent material of greater durability allied with the structural changes, mean that it is expected that the RCS of the aircraft will be equivalent of a F-16, that is, around 1m (Reduced RCS (b/w F-16 (about 1m^2).”


                  “Russian researchers have developed coatings and techniques in the stealth design that can reduce the head-on RCS of a Sukhoi Su-35 fighter aircraft by a factor of 10, thereby halving the radar range for the target detection. Moreover, the Su-35 aircraft consists of a treated cockpit canopy that reflects the impinging radar waves and conceals the RCS contribution from metallic components.”


    • Didn’t they report the AIM-9 was defeated by countermeasures and not by maneuver? While I’m sure the Sukhoi pilot preformed vigorous menuvers I believe it was stated that the AIM-9 chased after the Sukhoi’s flares. Hence, the follow up shot was with the ARH AIM-120 which resulted in a splash. Allegedly the 9X’s seeker didn’t recognize the older SU-22 countermeasures as such. Apparently for burning too”dirty” relative to modern flare dispensers. If true I’m sure Raytheon is hard at work to correct the issue.

      • The ‘burning too dirty’ is from Soviet flares captured in Afghanistan in the 1980’s that were brought to the US for trials against AIM-9L.AIM-9X uses an entirely different seeker that works totally differently. The truth is we don’t know the reason, nor will we ever. What was apparent was the range of the shot. It was very close, probably too close. That and a failure are the more likely reasons for the failure.

  2. it’s impressive like after that incredibly maneuvers SU-35 has power to maintain nose up and gain altitude

      • Only the F-22 can perform similar maneuvers like the Su-35S or PAK FA. Other fighter jets don’t have the thrust vectoring, which would give them the ability of supermaneuverability.

        • Black haven’t seen the test videos from Edwards AFB where the F-22 performs the SU35S famed “Cobra?” It can, and it DOES :o) Plus it can stay “guns locked on” in incredible tight turns.

          • Did I say F-22 can’t perform such maneuvers? I’m well aware that it can, but still Su-35S/PAK FA are better in maneuverability because they use 3D TVC nozzles and F-22 use 2D TVC.

          • Show me any other Western fighter jet (except F-22) performing maneuvers like these down bellow, you won’t find any.

            • If you’re using an aerobatic display as a measurement for capability then this bi-plane and the pilot flying it is the deadliest thing in the sky…

              • Yes, but with an exception that it is a pure aerobatic aircraft with only one advantage, the maneuverability. The supermaneuverability of the Su-35S is just an addition to the whole set of advanced features that the Su-35S possess, and if there is a possibility to have such a thing, then why not. Still it’s just an advantage compared to the other less maneuverable fighter jets.
                Like some military pilots use to say, the supermaneuverability is like a knife, and in a fight is always good to have a knife.

              • You obviously overlooked the part “except F-22”. Next time, try to read more carefully.

      • Felix A9 you’re right, Felix..even our aged F-15 eagles set a record for time-to-climb (ground level to high altitude).

    • The’s all in the power-to-weight ratio. Our newer aircraft, and even the F-16 have more power than weight. Even the F-35 is capable of “Supercruise” which is supersonic speed without using afterburner.

      • I referred to the monouvers with high angle of attack that others planes in the world can’t do

        • Yes, so was I referring to the high angle of attack, while staying on target in climbs, and even turns, or cross-passes in front of our aircraft. Our latest 4th and 5th Generation fighters can do the “Cobra” manouever as well, without the angled exhaust nozzles. part of testing at Edwards AFB proved that.

          • Only known aircraft in USAF inventory that proved to be able to perform real Cobra maneuver is the F-22, because it use the 2D TVC nozzles.

            There were also attempts to perform Cobra with F/A-18 but it didn’t look like too much as real Cobra maneuver when you will compare it with Cobra maneuvers performed by Sukhois and F-22s.

            Here are also some videos that show Su-27/Su-33 executing Cobra maneuver without use of the angled exhaust nozzles.

            And even MiG-29.

  3. F-22 and F-35 pilots look at the display and are entertained but they point at it and say, “hey look, another target”.

      • LOL!

        Wakey wakey….. What is the air-to-air kill record for the last 25 or so years for western and Russian fighters?

        • In how many wars in which Russian fighter jets would have a chance to shoot down enemy aircrafts were Russians involved in last 25+ years?
          Maybe just in Georgia, but except UAVs there weren’t any other aerial targets.

  4. Amazing ! Certainly a pilot dream, an engineer dream and what a show !
    Why discuss military value ? It’s pure pleasure !

  5. Which Western fighter jet can perform such manoeuvres?
    Some say they are just for air shows… May be it’s true. But those who have watched the Top Gun movie know they are for a reason

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