Russia’s fifth-gen Su-57 fighter has a problem that won’t be fixed anytime soon

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Russian aircraft designers hope the Su-57 will be Moscow’s answer to the F-35, and someday it could be. But for now, the plane is stricken with engine problems that analysts don’t see getting fixed before at least 2025.

Russia has begun flight-testing with its new next-generation Saturn izdeliye 30 engines. The testing with the new engines will run for several years. In the meantime, the Russians will build a dozen Su-57s equipped with interim Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofans producing 32,500lbs thrust each for operational testing.

The AL-41F1 is the same engine in the Su-35S Flanker-E, and it uses many of the same systems as the Su-57.

Indeed, with exception of stealth, the new Flanker offers much of the same capabilities as the new fifth-generation fighter. Thus, the Russians are unwilling to spend money on a system that offers only a marginal increase in performance in their view.

However, while Russia will continue to buy modern combat aircraft such as the Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E air superiority fighter and the Su-34 Fullback bomber, Moscow is not likely to make large purchases of the fifth-generation Su-57 PAK-FA stealth fighter until after 2027.

Essentially, the Russians are waiting for upgraded engines to be ready before launching serial production of the Su-57. By then, it’s likely U.S. systems will have lept far ahead. [source]

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