The Russian Aerospace Forces (RuAF) will receive two serial fifth-generation Su-57 fighters this year to complement the single fifth generation fighter currently in service with the RuAF.
"By the end of 2021, the second and third serial aircraft of the fifth generation Su-57 will be handed over to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Like the first serial fighter, the aircraft will be tested at the State Flight Test Center (GLITs) in Akhtubinsk," a source in the aircraft industry told RIA Novosti reported quoting an aircraft industry source.
Interestingly, the source said that the first Su-57 plane is still in the State Flight Test Center (Russian acronym - GLITs) and that they are not going to transfer it to the combat unit yet. However, it was officially revealed by Su-57 manufacturer, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) earlier this year that the RuAF received the first production Su-57 fighter at the end of 2020.
During the 2021 Victory Day parade last month, four Su-57 jets were photographed flying over the Red Square. Ahead of the event, UAC tweeted images of three Su-57 jets as rehearsing for the parade. These aircraft had fuselage numbers as 051, 054 and 058 and were seen together with another with fuselage number 01 flying during the parade.
Russian aviation enthusiasts claim that the number 01 represents a production aircraft while the ones starting with ‘0’ represent aircraft in flight testing.
On the weapons side, the Su-57 has been paired with a ‘Hunter’ drone to extend the attack range of the aircraft. In addition, a version of Russia’s latest generation air-to-air missile, the R-74M has been developed for use in the internal bay of Su-57 fighters.
Nevertheless, those looking forward to the Su-57 pose a challenge to western fifth generation fighter jets appear disappointed at the slow pace of its induction into the RuAF. It’s been over 10 years when the Su-57 first flew and is yet to enter full production. Its all-important second stage engine, which will allow the aircraft to exploit its full stealth features, is behind schedule by several years.
The UAC is fulfilling a contract to manufacture 76 Su-57 jets for which a new assembly facility has been set up at the Komsomolk-on-Amur aircraft plant in the Russian Far East.