Russia’s military may not be as well funded or as capable as it was during the heyday of the Soviet Union, but the nation has managed to keep itself relevant through strategic defense initiatives aimed at cultivating international sales and drawing headlines the world over. Russia’s financial woes may prevent it from fielding a conventional force with enough might to challenge the likes of the United States, but through specific high-dollar programs they’re able to convey the image of a global competitor and retain their seat at the table with formidable national forces fielded by the likes of China, the U.K., and, of course, the United States.
Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 is one such high-dollar endeavor. Touted as the most advanced Russian fighter ever to take to the skies, the Su-57 was designed with stealth in mind from the ground up. While some question the validity of Russia’s claims regarding the platform, it seems feasible that the jet boasts a significantly reduced radar signature when compared to fourth-generation Russian fighters like the extremely maneuverable Su-35.
In fact, according to the Kremlin, the Su-57 is such a capable and stealthy predator that it could go shot for shot with either jet from America’s fifth-gen duo — the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Unlikely as that may seem, Russia’s Su-35 is so maneuverable that some contend that even it would make a formidable opponent for American F-22s, despite the American jet’s stealthy advantage. It stands to reason, then, that Russia’s next new platform may put up one hell of a fight in a conflict with the United States.
Of course, that doesn’t really matter because Russia’s shoe-string budget allowed for the development of the Su-57, but not for its actual production. To date, Russia expects to take delivery of just 12 or so combat capable Su-57s — a token fleet meant to allow Russia the opportunity to claim to be one of only three nations on the globe currently fielding the latest generation of fighters. China’s J-20 and forthcoming J-31, and America’s F-22 and F-35 are the only other fight-generation platforms in operation anywhere else in the world. Even after losing a number of F-22s to Hurricane Michael, the United States currently has hundreds of operational fifth-generation fighters, with orders pending for more than a thousand more.
However, just because Russia can’t afford to build enough of these fighters to matter in a conflict with the likes of the U.S. doesn’t mean they aren’t one hell of a sight to see. If anything, the comparative rarity of these jets makes seeing them in their airborne habitat all the more impressive.
Based on the translated dialogue of the reporter in the video, a reporter is flying aboard a Russian military AN-12 at an altitude of just 300 meters — or 984 feet. Then, a formation of Su-57s approaches and flies beneath the reporter’s AN-12.
Image courtesy of YouTube