Russia Has Doubled Production of Su-57 Next Gen. Fighters: Latest Batch Just Delivered to Air Force

The Komsomolsk on Amur Aviation Plant in the Russian Far East has delivered a new batch of Su-57 next generation fighters to the Russian Air Force, according to a statement by Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov. The fighters completed a full cycle of factory tests and trials, and are the first aircraft of their kind produced this year. President of the Russian United Aircraft Corporation Yury Slyusar confirmed that remaining Su-57s scheduled to be delivered this year “are in the final assembly hangars and at the test airfields.” The Russian Air Force received one Su-57 fighter in 2020, three in 2021 and six more in 2022, brining the fleet size up to ten fighters by the beginning of the year. The current State Armaments Plan, however, indicates that the fleet size will increase to 22 fighters by the end of 2023 meaning 12 fighters will need to be delivered this year. It remains uncertain how many fighters were delivered in the latest batch, but deliveries of six aircraft in two separate batches have been speculated. The fighter class is eventually expected to be produced at close to 20 airframes per year for both domestic use and for export, with Algeria widely thought to have placed orders for the aircraft while multiple other states such as Vietnam and India have shown a strong interest. 

Although far behind the rival American F-35 and Chinese J-20 next generation fighter programs in terms of production numbers, with both being built at well over 100 per year, the Su-57 has the advantage of significantly more usage in combat. The aircraft have participated significantly in operations in Ukraine, making the Su-57 the only fighter class of its generation to be extensively combat tested in a protracted war with a state adversary with deployments including strike missionsair defence suppression, and according to several reports  air to air combat as well. The fighter was designed as a successor to the Su-27 Flanker and its derivatives, and was designed with a strong focus on avoiding the massive lifetime cost increases seen in American fifth generation fighter programs which has made it impossible for the F-35 to replace fourth generation fighters without either major contraction in the size of the fleet or very significant increases in spending.

The Su-57 is expected to be a significantly more cost effective aircraft to operate than its predecessors, which will allow it not only to be widely adopted by frontline units, but also to form new regiments. Thus with Russia set to form its first full strength Su-57 regiment in early 2024, and with two further regiments scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2027, one of the three regiments’ worth of fighters is reportedly set to form an entirely new unit within the Air Force. The fighter class nevertheless remains far behind schedule following multiple serious delays in the 2010s, with the Soviet Union having been set to field fifth generation fighters from 2001 under the MiG 1.42 program before post Soviet decline set industry back very significantly. This allowed China and the United States to gain significantly leads with their own programs.