Turkey is close to buying 36 Russian Su-35 Jets following its purchase of S-400 air defence systems, pro-government Turkish paper Daily Sabah reported last Friday quoting government sources.
Ankara may need the aircraft to serve as part of a cooperative engagement capability (CEC) involving the S-400 and the Su-35 where the latter serves as an airborne radar to guide the S-400’s missiles to engage enemy aircraft or missiles, Russian sources told defenseworld.net.
Conversely, data from the S-400’s ground based radars could be networked with the Su-35s for it to engage in an air superiority role, a Russian industrial source explained to defenseworld.net. The S-400’s biggest advantage is its ability to network with other offensive and defensive systems such as fighter jets and the Pantsir low-level air defence system to form an ‘impenetrable’ defensive system, he said.
If this is true, then Turkey may need to buy Su-35 or similar Russian aircraft that could effectively be networked with the S-400 to form a multi-layer defensive system. Even if Washington de-froze the F-35 deal and allowed Ankara to continue with the purchase of the American planes, Turkey would still need contemporary Russian aircraft to serve in conjunction with the S-400 air defence systems.
While Russia has a dedicated early warning aircraft, the A-50M which is claimed to detect incoming aircraft 800 km away, their ability to network with the S-400 is not known.
Being the most modern fighter in Russia’s arsenal, the Su-35’s avionics suite includes data exchange links using which it can pass on and receive data from other aircraft and ground based radars. Its radar can detect air targets with RCS of 3 square meters at a distance of 350 km.
According to the Russian arms export agency, Rosoboronexport information, the Su-35 can conduct long range patrol missions, an assertion of its air superiority role.
According to the Turkish daily: "Sources added that officials are also discussing Turkey's possible involvement in the production of some components of the fighter jets, including its precision weapons and ammunition."
The Russian Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets were demonstrated to Turkish President Erdogan at the MAKS-2019 aerospace show in Russia in August. Following the visit there have been several contacts between the two sides where the possibility of buying the in-service Su-35 was discussed, the source said.