Russia: upgraded Su-57 to begin trials in 2022

Trials of the upgraded fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jet will begin in the summer of 2022. It is officially called second-phase Su-57. Besides a completely new engine, the jet will get new avionics. The R&D is to end in late 2024 and the production of the upgraded fighter jet will begin. The gradual introduction of improvements into sophisticated combat jets has become a usual practice in Russia and abroad, the Izvestia daily writes.

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Russia upgraded Su 57 to begin trials in 2022 Su-57 showcased during MAKS-2019 (Picture source: Air Recognition)

A major upgrade has been planned for Su-57 which has not been accepted into service yet. The Defense Ministry agreed the deadlines and technical assignment for the second-phase fighter jet, sources in the defense industry said. The technical concept of the upgraded jet has been determined and the industry has to produce it in the set time. The aircraft will considerably exceed the current option in combat capabilities, the sources said.

The contract for Megapolis R&D to create the second-phase Su-57 was signed by the Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company on October 29, 2018. The schedule obtained by the publication said the prototype should fly in the middle of 2022 and the R&D has to be completed in late 2024.

In early June, the Sukhoi signed a contract in the framework of Megapolis R&D to assess the effectiveness of upgraded Su-57 in combat missions. Russian General Chief-of-Staff Valery Gerasimov said the fighter jets were again tested in Syria in 2019 and successfully fulfilled all the missions.

Upgraded Su-57 will have a more powerful engine. At present they are powered by first-phase AL-41D1 motor. The new engine designated as item 30 is designed by UEC-Ufa Motor-Manufacturing Production Amalgamation.

Representatives of the United Engine Corporation (UEC) said the new engine has breakthrough characteristics and will develop Su-57 into a more perfect aircraft. It has a bigger thrust to develop supersonic speed without a boost. The engine will have better operational characteristics and increased resource. Plasma ignition will improve fuel burning.

Two dozen prototypes of item 30 for ground and flight trials have been made. They are tested on a flying laboratory. Su-57 flies with one experimental engine. The characteristic serrate form of the thrust-vectoring nozzle has to decrease radar signature.

Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko said Su-57 with serial item 30 will be procured from mid-2020s. Several dozen aircraft will be powered by AL-41F1 before that.

Trials of pre-batch Su-57 are being completed. The contract for the first batch of 76 jets for the Defense Ministry was signed at Army-2019 forum. It has to be fulfilled by the end of 2027. The major contract decreased the cost of each jet.

Su-57 will have modern equipment, however the design will not undergo major changes, Merited test pilot Colonel Igor Malikov believes. The development of the new modification at the time when the basic option has not been created yet is necessary in order not to lose time with the production of an upgraded jet. “It is a natural process. The same story happened with Su-34 which was tested for a long time. New electronics appeared during the time, as well as compact elements and better weapons. The same thing happens with the Americans. They have not completed F-35, but every year introduce changes and design new modifications of the aircraft,” he said.

Su-57 upgrade will replace hydraulic drivers of control surfaces by electric engines to increase maneuverability and survivability in case of damage.

The Sukhoi designer said several other R&D were conducted for second-phase Su-57. They design a panoramic indicator and new multifunctional displays to increase situation awareness of the pilot.

Besides, the upgraded option will have a bigger set of guided weapons. Su-57 is a multirole aircraft capable of winning supremacy in the air and delivering precise strikes at ground and sea targets. Several families of precision missiles and bombs to be carried in internal compartments are being designed for the fighter jet, the Izvestia said.

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