Russia’s Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter has been given the designation Su-57 as it nears production.
Initially, Moscow will only buy 12 Su-57 aircraft, which are expected to be delivered in 2019. Indeed, the Russian air force is not likely to buy more than 60 of the initial version of the Su-57 in total.
“In 2019, we should begin the delivery of a pre-production batch of [T-50] planes,” United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) chief Yuri Slyusar told the TASS news agency.
One of the reasons the Russians are less than enthused at buying the initial version of the Su-57 is because the stealth fighter is currently powered by interim Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofans producing 32,500lbs thrust each. That is the same engine as the existing Su-35S Flanker-E, which uses many of the same systems that the Su-57 will.
Indeed, with exception of stealth, the new Flanker offers much of the same capabilities as the new fifth-generation fighter. Thus, the Russians are unwilling to spend money on a system that offers only a marginal increase in performance in their view.