Russia’s state-owned Rostec State Corporation announced on December 28, 2022, that another batch of serial production-standard Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters has been handed over to the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD).
While the number of Su-57s delivered in this latest batch was not disclosed, the aircraft were manufactured by the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) – a subsidiary of Rostec – at the company’s Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant (KnAAZ) in far-eastern Russia and were handed over as part of the 2022 supply programme. This latest delivery comes as the Russian government takes further action on the modernisation of the KnAAZ facility in a bid to increase its production capacity.
Commenting on the recent delivery of Su-57 fighters to the Russian MOD, Sergey Chemezov – CEO of Rostec – highlighted the importance of the platform to the future of the Russian Aerospace Forces (RuASF). “This aircraft is the future of Russian combat aviation, it embodies advanced technologies and design solutions. It has super-manoeuvrability, is hardly noticeable, can destroy air and ground targets, detect the enemy at long distances, and operate in a network-centric war,” he said.
At present, the UAC is constructing a number of new facilities at its KnAAZ facility in a bid to build up capacity and allow the firm to increase serial production of both the Su-57 and Su-35S multi-role fighters for the RuASF. The work also includes the construction of facilities that are specifically designed to help test systems and equipment for the Su-57, such as a boathouse for testing onboard radio-electronic equipment, a fuel box and a motor test station. Although the move is supported by the Russian government at state-level, the construction of these new facilities are being carried out at the expense of the UAC, which plans to deliver up to 76 Su-57s to the Russian MOD over the coming years.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, further elaborated on this: “Systemic decisions taken at the state-level to support the modernisation of the enterprise made it possible to launch mass production of fifth-generation aircraft in a timely manner. The expansion of production capacities continues, new high-tech equipment is put into operation, additional production personnel are involved. A modern final assembly production line is in operation.”
Commenting on the production progress for both the Su-57 and Su-35S at the KnAAZ facility, Yury Slyusar – Director General of the UAC – added: “Our aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur has completed the programme for  for the production of fifth-generation Su-57 aviation systems and Su-35S multi-role fighters for the Russian Aerospace Forces. We will continue to fulfil our obligations. Aircraft scheduled for delivery [in 2023] are already in production.”
Having completed its maiden flight on January 29, 2010, the Su-57 – Russia’s first fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter, which was developed to rival the US-developed Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor – has remained in testing for the majority of its life, with just ten prototypes and at least six serial production examples produced to-date. Having entered operational service with the RuASF on December 25, 2020, the type has seen limited combat service and, while it has been occasionally deployed for operations over Syria, it has not been used to support the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
When considering Russia’s initial acquisition plans for the Su-57, procurement has been scaled back and delayed considerably on a number of occasions, with technical issues and Western sanctions on the Russian economy following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 being key factors in this. The Russian MOD initially planned to acquire 60 production-standard Su-57s by 2020, followed by a further 150-160 by 2025. However, such plans changed after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that 76 examples would be purchased and delivered to the RuASF by 2028.