Russia has commenced negotiations with potential buyers to export the Su-57 stealth fighter jet in several configurations including a twin-seat option.
A two-seat version of the fifth generation Su-57 fighter can be created in the interests of foreign customers. In addition, the Russian Defense Ministry is analyzing the need for such an aircraft, First Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission Andrey Yelchaninov told Interfax in an interview Tuesday.
Regarding exports, he said, "Negotiations are underway with potential buyers. Various delivery options are being considered: a separate aircraft and an aircraft with a full range of weapons, with an after-sales service system. In addition, at the request of the customer, the appearance of the aircraft can be finalized,” he was quoted as saying in the interview.
He did not name the potential buyers. However reports are going around that Algeria and Indonesia could be among the early possibilities.
The option of selling the Su-57 fully armed and with a maintenance package is interesting and seems to be inspired by how the U.S. conducts sale of the F-35. Since the learning curve in maintaining a latest generation fighter aircraft is steep, customers prefer the full package of aircraft + weapons + maintenance. Recent examples include sale of Rafale jets to India, besides F-35s to Japan and South Korea among others.
The Su-57 has commenced production to fulfill a Russian Air Force order for 76 aircraft. In addition, an export version, dubbed Su-57E was shown at the MAKS air show in 2018 in which the Turkish President, Erdogan showed interest.
Delivery of the first production aircraft to the Russian Air Force would be completed before the end of December and its state tests would be completed in 2021, Yelchaninov said.
Based on the Su-57 platform, a whole family of aircraft can be born, he said giving credence to recent reports that Russian state enterprise Rostec had commenced work on a single-engine aircraft concept to work on the manned-unmanned principle.
The long waiting list for the F-35 seems to have given the Su-57's manufacturers an opportunity to hardsell their aircraft in the world market. Several countries in Asia, South America and even Europe want the F-35 but have been offered the fourth generation F-16 instead.