The Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant, named after Yuri Gagarin (KnAAZ) has completed its production schedule for 2023, delivering the last batch of Sukhoi Su-57 Felon fifth-generation multirole aircraft to the Ministry of Defense Russian, as announced on December 29, 2023, by the United Aircraft Corporation.
The company’s official statement states that the 2023 initiatives focused on perfecting the Su-57 assembly line, increasing production volumes of serial aircraft and resolving bottlenecks in the entire production cycle, thus improving the plant’s capabilities. Efforts were made to resolve limitations in the final assembly shop and throughout the production process. To achieve this, it has been essential to resolve the supply problems of high-tech components from the supplier plants and study improvements in assembly technology.
Yuri Slyusar, CEO of United Aircraft Corporation, emphasized the ongoing modernization within the production facilities. By 2024, several key structures are expected to be operational, allowing progress in the implementation of technical overhaul projects planned within the framework of the state defense industry development program, crucial for serial production of the Su-57.
The increase in production volumes is expected to allow the Russian Air Force to intensify the use of the Su-57 in the Ukraine conflict. Their presence has been asserted since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Recall that in May 2022, unverified reports emerged based on anonymous sources suggesting the deployment of Su-57 fighters by Russia against Ukraine. These reports claimed that the planes carried out missile strikes, evading Kyiv’s air defenses.
eRADAR sources indicated that the Russian Air Force has increasingly used the Su-57 for missile and bomb attacks against Ukrainian military targets. This fact highlighted Ukraine’s urgent need for F-16 fighters supplied by Western countries for its defense.
In January 2023, the UK Ministry of Defense also stated that it was “very likely” that Russia had used the Su-57 in its conflict with Ukraine. Although these claims lack conclusive evidence available to the public, they have raised serious concerns about the impact of these advanced fighters on the ongoing conflict.
The Sukhoi Su-57 is a twin-engine stealth multirole fighter developed from the PAK FA (Prospective Aviation Complex for Frontline Aviation) program, started in 1999. The program aimed to create a more modern and cost-effective alternative to the MFI (Mikoyan Project 1.44/1.42). Internally designated T-50 by Sukhoi, the Su-57 is the first Russian military aircraft to incorporate stealth technology and serves as the basis for a series of stealth fighter aircraft.
The Su-57 is designed for versatility, capable of carrying out air-to-air combat, ground attack and maritime attack missions. It features stealth technology, exceptional maneuverability, supercruise capability, advanced integrated avionics and a large internal payload capacity.
It is expected to replace older models such as the MiG-29 and Su-27 in the Russian military and has been offered for international export. The prototype flew in 2010, but the program faced several development problems, including structural and technical problems, which led to the loss of the first production aircraft in a crash before delivery.
After multiple delays, the first operational Su-57 entered service with the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) in December 2020. By the end of 2022, a total of 11 Su-57 aircraft had been manufactured, not counting test prototypes. However, this latest delivery has not revealed the specific number of Su-57s.
In 2022, despite international sanctions targeting Russian defense industries, potentially hampering the development of the Su-57 due to Russia’s inability to import semiconductors and high-tech equipment from the European Union, it appears that Russia has found a way to get around these restrictions.
Alain Henry de Frahan