The F-35 Lightning II and the Sukhoi Su-57 (NATO reporting name: Felon) are two of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world.

In this article, we will compare their capabilities, focusing on the advantages of the F-35, as highlighted by Eric Wicklund, a former US Navy Operations Specialist.

Wicklund sheds light on the superior features of the F-35, showcasing why it stands out in aerial combat. From its advanced situational awareness systems to its communication capabilities, the F-35 demonstrates a range of advantages that make it a formidable force against the Su-57.

Distributed Aperture System (DAS)

One of the key advantages of the F-35 is its Distributed Aperture System (DAS), which provides unparalleled situational awareness. With sensors pointing in 360-degree around the aircraft, the pilot gains a comprehensive understanding of the surrounding environment.

F-35 Lighting II
(Image source: DVIDS)

In contrast, the Su-57’s InfraRed Search and Track (IRST) has a relatively limited Field Of View (FOV), restricting its situational awareness capabilities. The F-35’s DAS acts as an exceptional missile warning system, updating multiple times per second. Additionally, it enables the pilot to “see through” the aircraft, acquiring a lock and engaging an unseen enemy. This advantage gives the F-35 a significant edge in combat scenarios.

Electro-Optical Tracking System (EOTS)

The F-35’s Electro-Optical Tracking System (EOTS) further enhances its combat capabilities. While primarily designed for ground targets, the EOTS allows the F-35 to self-escort, meaning it can defend itself as a fighter aircraft even when configured for a bombing mission. This versatility sets the F-35 apart from the Su-57, which lacks a comparable self-escort capability. The ability to engage in air-to-air combat while simultaneously performing ground attack missions gives the F-35 a distinct advantage in dynamic warfare scenarios.

Low Probability of Intercept Radar (LPIR)

Another critical advantage is the F-35’s Low Probability of Intercept Radar (LPIR). Unlike traditional radar systems that emit signals on a single frequency, the F-35’s LPIR AN/APG-81 employs frequency hopping, rapidly changing frequencies thousands of times per second. This technique significantly reduces the chances of enemy Radar Warning Receivers (RWR) detection. The Su-57 pilot may remain unaware of the F-35’s presence, even when being targeted and fired upon. The F-35’s LPIR provides a stealthy advantage, allowing it to engage adversaries without being detected, giving it a decisive upper hand in combat situations.

(Image source: DVIDS)

Communication Capabilities

The F-35’s communication capabilities serve as a potent weapon in modern warfare. With Link 16, Freedom 550 radio, and Multifunction Advanced DataLink (MADL), the F-35 acts as a central communications node, exchanging critical information with other aircraft, ground units, and command centers. This seamless integration allows real-time data sharing and coordination, enhancing overall situational awareness and combat effectiveness.