The Russian air force will soon get the first batch of its much-anticipated, supersonic fighter jets, but at least one U.S. expert is not impressed.
United Aircraft Corporation CEO Yuri Slyusar told the Russian news agency Tass that a pre-production batch of about a dozen jets, recently named Su-57s, will be made available to military pilots in advance of final design work. That's expected to be completed in 2019.
"The plane has got its name like a child after the birth," Air Force Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev told Rossiya 24 TV Channel. "Pilots will be learning to operate it."
Bondarev called the Su-57 a “wonderful machine” at an aviation expo last month, and the jet has received an extensive promotional push from Russian state media, Newsweek reported. Richard Aboulafia, vice president of the defense market analysis firm Teal Group, was not buying the hype.
"The Russians really like talking big, but the cash and technology just don't seem to be there," Aboulafia told USA TODAY.
Russian state media has reported the Su-57's maximum speed at 1,600 mph, which would be slightly more than the F-22 Raptor. Newsweek reported the Su-57's missile range, based on the information available, also exceeds the F-22.
“Every country probably wants planes such as this, and we have them,” Bondarev said of the Su-57.
Aboulafia, however, says Russia must create new technology, particularly engine technology, to meet reach the specifications it is claiming.
"They still need to find the cash to fund the development of the complete version of this aircraft," he said. "They've been trying for quite some time."
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