The Russian military has been showcasing its latest fifth-generation jet fighter, but the U.S. will continue to maintain its advantage in the aerial battlespace. Lately, the Russian military deployed the Su-57 to Syria in an attempt to test its capabilities and performance in combat conditions. During the flights, the Russian pilots tested the aircraft’s on-board systems, data management and coordination software, and the overall performance (for example, arming a weapon in extreme temperatures).

The latest show-off flights were conducted to garner favourable public relations for the airframe. Why? Because its production schedule has been significantly derailed. The Su-57 was supposed to be in mass-production. Hitherto, however, the Russian defence industry has managed to manufacture only 12 aircraft (all prototypes). Hardware shortcomings, largely the result of budget limitations — Western sanctions on Russia have begun to generate results — have frustrated the production schedule.

The Su-57, which was initially designated as PAK FA or T-50, first flew in early 2010. It is supposed to be a peer-level competitor to the American F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. But some go beyond that and claim that the Su-57 is even better: According to the aircraft’s chief designer, Mikhail Strelets, the Su-57 combines the lethality of the F-22 and the diversity of the F-35 and thus outperforms both aircraft.