The Sukhoi Su-35C: Flanker-E


Pravda Report


Published on Apr 10, 2013

The Sukhoi Su-35 (Russian: Сухой Су-35; NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) is a single-seat, twin-engine supermaneuverable multirole fighter. It is a derivative of the Su-27 'Flanker', and was initially known as the Su-27M. Sukhoi was looking to upgrade its high-performance Su-27 in the 1980s. The resultant Su-27M, later re-designated Su-35, incorporates aerodynamic refinements to give it more manoeuvrability, enhanced avionics, longer range, and a more powerful engine. The first prototype, converted from a Su-27, made its maiden flight in June 1988. More than a dozen of these were built with some used by the Russian Knights aerobatic demonstration team. The Su-35 was later modified into the Su-37 with thrust-vectoring engines and used for testing.

In the 2000s, Sukhoi further developed the aircraft with the Su-35BM version. It features a reinforced airframe, improved avionics and radar, thrust-vectoring engines, and a reduced radar signature from the front. Canards and speedbrake are omitted on the new Su-35 version. Serial production on the new model, designated Su-35S by the Russian Air Force, began in 2010. The Su-35 has been offered to many countries, including India, Brazil, China and South Korea.

In the early 1980s, while the Su-27 was entering service with the Soviet Air Force, Sukhoi looked to develop a follow-on variant. This variant, originally designated "Su-27M", would be much more agile and feature greatly improved avionics than the aircraft considered to be the best contemporary fighter. It was also to carry more armament to improve its capacity as an air-to-ground platform.

Known within the design bureau as the "T10-M", development began in the early 1980s. The improved variant featured a host of changes regarding aerodynamic refinements, avionics and propulsion upgrades, construction methods, as well as increased payload carriage. High-strength composites and aluminium-lithium were used not only to reduce weight, but to boost internal fuel volume. Distinguishing features are the canards, which improve airflow over the wings, eliminating buffeting and allowing the aircraft to fly at a very high angle of attack of 120°, i.e., past the airflow direction. The canards are governed by a new digital fly-by-wire flight control system. It is outfitted with the Luylka Al-31FM engine, also found on the Su-34 tactical bomber. This powerplant is larger, more reliable, and with a thrust of 28,218 lbf (125.52 kN) is more powerful.

Also new was the fire-control system, at the heart of which is the more powerful N-011 Zhuk-27 pulse-Doppler radar. The radar can track 15 aerial targets simultaneously and guide six missiles towards them. To exploit the improved radar, two additional underwing pylons were added. The tail "stinger" houses the Phazotron N-012 rear-facing radar for protection from attacks from behind. The aircraft can carry a variety of bombs and both air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, along with napalm, dumb and cluster bombs. The cockpit was modernized, equipped with multi-function colour LCD screens, and the pilot sits on the K-36DM ejection seat inclined at 30° to improve g-force tolerance. Range is increased to 4,000 km (2,222 nmi) through additional fuel capacity; with the fitting of an aerial refuelling probe, range can be further extended. The aircraft is characterized by its twin nose wheel -- as a result of higher payload -- and larger tail fins with horizontal carbon fibre square-topped tips.

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