Type: Multirole fighter Designer: Sukhoi Company Manufacturer: Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO) First flight:19 February 2008 Introduction: December 2016 Operators: PLA Air Force (24 ordered) Crew: 1 In-flight refuelling: Yes (retractable probe)
The Sukhoi Su-35 (NATO reporting name: ‘Flanker-E’) is described by its designer as a 4++ generation fighter that can bridge the gap between legacy fighters and the upcoming fifth-generation fighter. It can trace its origin to the Su-27M fighter introduced in the late 1980s, and has since then been substantially upgraded and redesigned, incorporating a reinforced airframe, improved avionics and radar, thrust-vectoring engines, and a reduced frontal radar signature.
China signed a $2 billion contract with Russia in November 2015 for the acquisition of 24 examples of the Su-35, following more than five years of negotiations. The delivery of these fighters commenced in December 2016 and is expected to complete by early 2018.
The Su-35 resembles the previous Sukhoi Flanker series fighters in appearance, though its airframe structure underwent substantially redesign. The aircraft has mid-mounted and semi-delta wings with square tips. The leading-edge extension (LERX) extends downward and forward of the wing roots, with two rectangular air intakes underneath the fuselage and a large tail boom. The tail fins are swept-back, tapered with square tips, and mounted outboard of the engines. The horizontal stabilisers are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered. The nose is pointed with a bubble canopy.
The aircraft’s fire-control radar is the Irbis-E (Snow Leopard) passive phased array, operating in the X-band. It can detect and track up to 30 airborne targets at a range of 350 to 400 km, and engage 8 of them simultaneously. In the air-to-surface mode, the radar can provide ground mapping allowing to attack four surface targets with precision-guided weapons while scanning the horizon searching for airborne threats that can be engaged using active radar homing missiles.
The model of the aircraft’s electro-optic system is OLS-35, consisting of an infrared search and track (IRST) sensor and laser rangefinder. The system can detect enemy targets passively without requiring to turn on the fire-control radar, thus reducing the chance of the aircraft being detected.
For sef-defence, the aircraft also carries the L265 Khibiny-M electronic warfare pods on its wingtips.
The Su-35 can carry a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapon, though it is unclear which of these have been purchased by the PLA as part of the package.
Fixed weapon includes a single-barrel 30 mm GSh-301 internal cannon with 150 rounds. Up to 8,000 kg weapon load can be carried on the aircraft’s 12 external stores hardpoints, including 2 tandem under the fuselage centreline, 2 under the air ducts, 6 under the wings, and 2 on the wingtips.
For air-to-air missions, the aircraft can carry the Vympel R-73E/M (AA-11 ‘Archer’) IR-homing SRAAM (30 km range), Vympel R-27R/ER/T/ET (AA-10 ‘Alamo’) semi-active radar-homing MRAAM (80—130 km range), and Vympel R-77 (AA-12 ‘Adder’) active radar-homing MRAAM (80—110 km range).
For ground strike mission, the aircraft can carry the Kh-29T/L TV/semi-active laser-homing air-to-surface missile (10—12 km range), Kh-31A anti-ship missile (103 km range), Kh-31P anti-radiation missile (110 km range), Kh-59M/E, inertial + TV-homing air-launched cruise missile (115—200 km range), KAB-500L laser guidance bombs, and KAB-1500L laser guidance bombs.
The aircraft is powered by two Saturn 117S (AL-41F1S) turbofan engine, each rate at 86.3 kN (8,800 kgf, 19,400 lbf) dry and 142 kN (14,500 kgf, 31,900 lbf) with afterburning, with 3D thrust vectoring control (TVC) nozzles, giving it superior manoeuvrability.
The aircraft is fitted with a retractable in-flight refuelling probe and can be refuelled by the Il-78 ‘Midas’ tanker aircraft.
Length (m): 21.9. Wingspan (m): 15.3. Height (m): 5.9. Empty weight (kg): 18,400. Loaded weight (kg): 25,300. Max take-off weight (kg): 34,500. Internal fuel capacity (kg): 11,500. Max level speed (Mach): 1.15 (sea-level), 2.25 (at altitude). Max climb rate (m/s): >280. Service ceiling (m): 18,000. Ferry range (km): 4,500. Combat radius (km):N/A. Max g-load: +9.