What China Wants to Learn (And Maybe Buy?) from Russia's Su-57 Fighter

Michael Peck

Key point: Beijing wants more stealth fighters and Moscow wants more money. Perhaps a trade is in the offing?

China should learn from Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighter, according to Chinese media.

The article in Chinamil.com, the Chinese military’s English-language news site, was peculiar in that it both criticized and praised the Su-57, of which Russia has only built ten so far, with thirteen more slated for 2020.

“The Su-57, Russia's fifth-generation fighter jet comparable to China's J-20 and the US’ F-22, is usually considered not a true fifth-generation jet because of its ‘below-standard’ stealth capability, according to media reports,” said Chinamil.com. “This makes it at a significant disadvantage against Chinese and US counterparts, some military observers said.”

But the article then proceeded to cite praise for the Su-57 from Wang Yongqing, chief designer of the state-owned Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute, who said “the Su-57's overall capability is not bad at all.” Shenyang has developed several warplanes, including the J-11 and J-16, the J-15 carrier jet and the F-31 stealth fighter.

“Having an innovative aerodynamic design and capable of thrust vectoring control, the Su-57 attaches strong importance to supersonic cruise capability and super-maneuverability, and stealth is intentionally a second priority,” Wang wrote in China’s Aerospace Knowledge magazine, according to Chinamil.com. “The US concept of next-generation aerial battle stresses beyond visual range attacks, but missiles capable of delivering such attacks have to travel for a while, a time window far enough for the Su-57 to make super-maneuvers and evade them, Wang said, noting that the Russian fighter is also equipped with special radars designed to detect the precise location of incoming missiles. With long-range missiles out of the question, the final showdown will eventually take place at close range, where stealth loses its meaning and super-maneuverability thrives.”

“Another unique design is the world's first side-facing radars in addition to the front-facing ones,” Wang said. “Combined with other radars and infrared sensors, the Su-57 is expected to find enemy stealth aircraft as early as possible.”

Read the original article.