A Russian Su-57 stealth jet controlled a group of Su-35 front-line fighter in a teaming experiment designed to function as a ‘swarm’ in a coordinated attack mission.
"The experiment was carried out in real combat conditions. A group of Su-35 fighters was involved in the flock, the role of the command and control aircraft was performed by the Su-57," news agency TASS reported quoting sources from Russia’s ‘military-industrial complex.’
Sources explained to TASS that use of a "swarm” operating in a single information space, significantly increases the efficiency of combat missions. The place and date of the experiment was not specified.
The report did not describe what ‘real combat conditions’ meant. Whether the jet swarm was tested in simulated battle conditions at home or in Syria where Russia has previously conducted several tactical experiments involving the Su-57.
Russia has a sizeable military presence in Syria and controls two military bases and has the skies protected by it air defence systems. In addition, foreign reconnaissance and fighter aircraft regularly fly in or near Syrian airspace providing ‘target aircraft’ for a swarm experiment.
During the experiment, information is exchanged between fighters in real time: the information-control system of each aircraft automatically processes data from its own sensors and sensors of other aircraft providing a comprehensive battle space picture. The command and control aircraft then guides the course of battle.
While the Su-57 is not expected to be in Russian air force service till 2022, its manufacturer is ensuring that it offers topine features available in the best of Western made jets such as the F-35 and F-22 by the time it enters service. Another feature being studied is to have the aircraft control a group of drones.