Russia’s Newest Fifth Generation Fighter Dances Behind An-12 In Unique Photo-Op.
Great video of Russia’s latest Sukhoi Su-57 fighters emerged early this week from what appears to be a media flight somewhere over Russia.
Most of the video is shot from the back of an Antonov An-12 turboprop. As is common practice in aerial photo flights in an open ramp aircraft, photographers and videographers are working behind a safety net and wear harnesses and lanyards attached inside the An-12 to prevent falling out the open back cargo ramp. From the videos published so far, it looks like there is a mix of still and video photographers, likely from various Russian media, on board the An-12 for the photo flight.
The Su-57s in the photo shoot wear the newer pixelated camouflage schemes. The first aircraft has a slightly different pixelated white/blue camouflage tone. One aircraft is darker than other. The new paint scheme on some of the Su-57s is presumably to reduce the ability to visually acquire the aircraft from the ground or from other aircraft within visual range. This first aircraft wears “bort” or aircraft number 054. Photos of this Su-57 have appeared regularly on Russian plane spotters’ websites like RussianPlanes.net. Interestingly, a previous Su-57 also wore bort 054 but in a splinter style camouflage. It is possible this aircraft may have been repainted during extensive maintenance.
There are some great shots of the Su-57’s control surfaces at work, including the interesting control surface arrangement on the wing that melds elegantly into the fuselage of the aircraft.
For a few seconds, we get a great look at bort 054’s pilot. He’s wearing what appears to be a conventional flight helmet with a mount that may be for night vision goggles. It’s also a good view of the relatively conventional layout of the Su-57 cockpit with its heads-up display and other instrumentation. It’s worth noting that, as you know, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has integrated the heads-up display symbology display into the pilot’s helmet, whereas on the Su-57 it would appear, from this video at least, there seems to be no symbology displayed within the pilot’s visor.
The second Su-57 in the video is also wearing the pixelated livery but it is difficult to see the bort number on the side of the aircraft.
The reporter inside the An-12 delivers some animated color commentary in Russian during part of the video. We’re not sure what the purpose of the Su-57 model he is holding is, and it is interesting to note that it appears most of the journalists’ equipment, including the Su-57 model, are not tethered to the journalists. In U.S. open ramp media flights a significant amount of care is taken to make sure every piece of equipment is tethered so no one drops a camera, sunglasses or anything else out the back of the aircraft that could hit the trailing planes or be ingested into the engines.
Facebook friend, photographer and aviation expert Mr. A.S. of Russia was kind enough to translate the reporter’s commentary for us:
“What you can see now is a very low pass, i.e. now our plane, [an] An-12, flies at 400 meters. Two T-50 [Su-57s] are 50 meters lower, i.e. at around 300 meters above the ground. And now you will see how they will literally dive under us! Watching, they are closer and closer… But it’s even not enough, you know, it’s like weightlifter each time takes more loads so it’s what now pilots of T-50 doing. We are now descending lower, we are now flying at 300 meters and now they will try again to pass under us!”
It is a pretty spectacular display, and must have been equally impressive for anyone on the ground lucky enough to see the aircraft fly over. At one point late in the video, possible as they return to the airfield they flew from, a lone Su-27 two-seat aircraft briefly appears in frame, possibly as another camera aircraft on the media flight.
While the Su-57 has been flying for well over seven years now the program has been a focus of frequent speculation. The most recent news suggests Russia is pressing ahead with the program after a test deployment of two aircraft to Syria, engine changes and other developments. Most of the video we’ve seen has been shot from the ground with the exception of some video shot from other aircraft. This new video is one of the better in-flight photo ops of the interesting new Sukhoi Su-57 making it work a look and share.
Top image: Screen Grab via YouTube.