Russia’s long troubled fifth-generation fighter, the Su-57, was recently brought back from the brink of death with the announcement that the nation intends to actually put the platform into mass production. Until recently, Russia’s token fleet of a dozen or so Su-57s was expected to be the extent of the nation’s fifth-generation fleet. Despite concerns that the Su-57 may not actually be nearly as stealthy as advertised, Russia is moving forward with plans to build 76 more of the fighters, likely as a part of their efforts to secure export contracts with nations like Turkey that are no longer in America’s good graces enough to secure their own F-35s.
But the Su-57 isn’t the only “stealth” platform that doesn’t seem as stealthy as it’s supposed to be that Russia has been touting in the international press as of late; There’s also the Okhotnik-B, or Hunter, unmanned combat drone. Thanks to the addition of a new shroud around it’s seemingly fourth-generation, afterburning fighter jet engine, the Hunter is expected to be stealthier than initial reports anticipated, despite lingering questions about Russia’s ability to produce platforms in quantity while keeping the tolerances between body panels tight enough to limit radar returns. In the big picture, neither the Su-57 nor the Hunter UCAV are expected to be able to match the stealth characteristics of America’s advanced platforms, but this first flight of the two together could indeed spell trouble for American defenses in a future hypothetical conflict.
“As part of the ongoing test program, the Okhotnik drone performed a flight in the automated mode,” the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement said. The S-70 will “broaden the fighter’s radar coverage and to provide target acquisition for employing air-launched weapons,” it continued.