The first mass-produced Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet will be delivered to Russian Aerospace Forces in 2019, Deputy CEO of the Sukhoi Aircraft Company Alexander Pekarsh said on Tuesday. The stealth jet has enormous potential to modernize the Russian military for at least the next five decades, as it has already proven its worth during combat missions in Syria.
"If we speak about the Su-57 program, we are today at the stage of manufacturing the first serial planes. In 2018, we completed the manufacture and the delivery of a batch of prototype planes that are now undergoing trials. Under the existing contract with the Defense Ministry, we have two planes in the production process, with the timeframe for the delivery of the first aircraft in 2019 and the second plane in 2020," the Sukhoi deputy chief executive said.
"I am confident that we will cope with the task and the first serial-produced plane will be delivered this year," he added.
Upon receiving the first Su-57 last August, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation signed a contract to procure an additional 15 planes in the second half of 2019.
The plane features stealth technology with the broad use of composite materials, is capable of maintaining supersonic cruising speed and is equipped with advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful onboard computer, advanced radar system, and armament placed inside its fuselage. The plane can track 60 targets and open fire at 16 of them concurrently.
According to Russia's Tactical Missiles Corporation, Su-57s will have the capability of air launching hypersonic missiles in the early 2020s.
With US-Russia relations deteriorating in the aftermath of the collapse of the INF nuclear arms treaty, which prompted Russia's Vladimir Putin to slam the US for "demolishing" global security, Russian state television listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, in a report which Reuters said "was unusual even by its own bellicose standards" and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes.
It is entirely possible that Su-57s could air launch the hypersonic missiles and hit the Pentagon, Forth Ritchie and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.
Currently, hypersonic missiles can penetrate American missile shields, so any surface-to-air missile system guarding these important assets would be powerless in the event of an attack.
It is also possible that Moscow will deploy Su-57s to the Eurasia region to ensure a geopolitical power shift away from Washington to defend economic development projects currently underway.
In November 2018, the Russian Defense Ministry published footage demonstrating the combat performance of the Su-57s in Syria.
Russian lawmaker Vladimir Gutenev, a member of State Parliament's expert panel on the aviation industry, recently told Sputnik that Su-57s would be half the cost of the American F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II stealth jets. According to open sources, F-22 jets cost $146.2 million, while F-35s may cost between $83 million and $108 million.
With serial production underway, Russia is now fleeting its military with fifth-generation fighters, along with hypersonic missiles, two key weapons that will dominate the skies in the next global conflict.