First Full Strength Su-57 Regiment Will Be Ready By Early 2024: How Quickly is the Production Scale Expanding?

The Russian Air Force is set to form its first full strength regiment of Su-57 next generation fighters in early 2024, out of three regiments which are expected to have been formed by the end of 2027. Although far behind schedule following multiple serious delays in the 2010s, the Su-57’s production rate has increased quickly over the past two years, and while only one was delivered to the Air Force in 2020, and three in 2021, this doubled to six in 2022 bringing the total fleet up to ten fighters. This number has been sufficient to participate significantly in operations in Ukraine, which has made the Su-57 the only fighter of its generation to be extensively combat tested in a protracted war with a state adversary. Deployments have included strike missions, air defence suppression, and according to some reports possibly air to air combat as well. At a conservative estimate ten new Su-57 airframes will be delivered in 2023, doubling the size of the fleet, which would allow the final four fighters needed to bring the fleet up to a full regiment of two dozen to be delivered in early 2024. The possibility also remains that as many as 14 fighters could be delivered in 2023, which would mean that the fleet would reach regiment strength before the end of the year. 

Aside from the Su-57, all other Russian fighter classes including the Su-30SM/SM2, Su-34 and Su-35 are currently in production at rates of around 14 per year, although significant investments made in expanding Su-57 production facilities at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant in the Russian Far East indicates that the scale of production is expected to be expanded significantly beyond this. While orders for fourth generation fighters were split between aircraft from multiple classes, and collectively the Su-35, Su-34 and Su-30 have been ordered at a rate of around 42 per year, as Russia’s only fifth generation fighter the Su-57 could see much more concentrated investments and be produced at 30 or more per year. This is particularly possible should the fighter receive large export orders, with India in particular seen as a leading potential client for a large license production deal – after it acquired Su-30s in over twice the numbers that the Russian Air Force has.

Despite promising increases, annual production numbers are expected to remain below half those of the Su-57’s direct predecessor from the fourth generation the Su-27, which was produced in the Soviet Union at rates of approximately 100 per year before the state’s disintegration. It is expected that Su-57s will first be commissioned to replace remaining Su-27 and MiG-29 units which Russia inherited from the Soviet Union, and which its air force still fields in their hundreds. Some reports have indicated that one of the three Su-57 regiments that will be commissioned before 2028 will be used form an entirely new unit, rather than replacing older fighters in an existing unit, as part of efforts to expand the Air Force’s fighter fleet.